Break the different aspects of the gate challenge down and you have:
- Parking nicely next to the gate to allow you to open it
- Manoeuvrability around the gate
- Calmness in the narrow gap of the open gate
Parking – practice standing calmly *right* next to things, close enough to touch them. If your horse won’t line up nicely for you to even open the gate, things aren’t going to go well. It doesn’t have to be a gate, you can use anything safe – fence, tree, xc jump, jump wing, boulder. This is also a useful skill to teach to help you get back on from any useful raised obstacle while you’re out on the POR.
Manoeuvrability – see this line dancing video – this is how responsive your horse should be in order to score well at gates on the PTV. Teaching verbal cues such as ‘over’ ‘around’ and ‘through’ can help them work out what you want when leg/weight aids may not be clear as you are holding the gate.
Calmness in the narrow gap – set up two jumps (or use roadwork barriers or similar) as if one is the fenceline & gatepost, and the other is an open gate, with a good gap between so you don’t risk catching a stirrup. First walk straight through, then try stopping right in the middle of the gap. Once those are done easily & calmly, then try manoeuvring through as if doing the gate, so your horse learns the movement pattern.