Special thanks to Carson Griggs for sharing this great resource- a Trail Schooling Survival Guide with obstacles you can set up to practice at home during the coronavirus quarantine!
Serpentines With A Twist
The first serpentine can be eastbound on the page for a traditional straight trot serpentine, but go the other direction for a harder line of travel. The second layout at the bottom of the page is one you may find in one of my courses, the double trot serpentine. I have seen some horses be able to “slice” both of the poles in the serpentine, a difficult and impressive move, especially during competition.
Building Tips: Make sure to keep the cones in play when playing around with these setups. It may save you from kicking the cone in the show pen, which probably isn’t anyone’s favorite part and not a plus on the scorecard. Running low on poles? The optional bumper rails can easily be replaced by flower boxes or really anything else you may have lying around in the barn.
Super Trot Serpentine Featuring Single Stride Lopes
What I like about this setup is that you get quite a few possible maneuvers out of a rather small amount of poles. The barrier poles around the serpentine help to keep you from swinging too far away from the next pole in line. If you ride from fan to fan, I wouldn’t worry too much about how the number of strides you get in the arc. Find what path works best for you and your horse, and focus on consistency.
The piece is simple to construct. Start with the serpentine, then the barrier poles on the sides. Make sure that in between the poles on the sides there is room for a cone. Then, continue on with the wings, 2-3 foot on the bottoms and 6-foot measured 3-foot down the high end of the poles.
Highly Modifiable- Another cool thing about this setup is that by simply enlarging the lopes on the top and bottom, and moving the serpentine poles, you can get a radically different obstacle. I highly recommend this obstacle in particular because of its ease to change and many different configurations of poles that can be created out of this fast and efficient build. It’s probably one of the best bang for your buck obstacles at home.
Three Stride Lope Parallel
While these obstacles may appear easier than some others featured in this literature, I feel the need to include a three-stride parallel formation for poles at the lope. I have heard many times that it can be difficult for shorter-strided horses to push through this 18-foot gap. While not something seen every weekend in Trail classes, I suggest the occasional schooling obstacle like this.
Some of the slower elements in Trail are often neglected practice pieces at home in some training programs. For some people, these elements are not as fun nor attractive and are often left out. Even if the slow stuff really isn’t your thing, everyone can benefit from just a few minutes of riding doing some of these obstacles. Plus it may help instill a little more patience in your horse.
The sidepass has made a comeback in the Trail pen. If early 2020 trends continue, watch out for the popular “sack of cans” at some shows.
Note from Carson:
Use care and safety when setting up obstacles at home. ALWAYS use a tape measure to ensure good practice. I hope you enjoy this free booklet with some ideas for Trail schooling obstacles at home. Some of them you may have seen or used before.
Don’t have many poles at home? This book may still be for you, with most elements featured employing 10 or less poles. Quality practice is essential to achieving consistency in the show pen. If at all possible, elevate your logs, and better yet if you can have someone on the ground to reset your DIY course, well that’s always nice.
If any of my friends or peers see this, please send feedback. It is always appreciated.
Most of all Happy Trails!
If you’d like to download these images in a larger format, click here for a dropbox link.