Barely Domesticated: We came, we saw, we spooked.




Being a Barely Domesticated soul, my Mustang Tim knows nothing about human-made obstacles, and really cares nothing for them at all. The guy will trudge through cactus in the desert no problem, but show him a flag….. not so much. Pool Noodles? Not even. Anything that crinkles, flaps, or shakes is suspect danger. I feel the same way about spiders…. I get it.

This is the reason we got so much out of the Open Trail Obstacle Challenge Weekend at Novato Horsemen’s in Novato, CA.   The obstacles were challenging, but safe. The competition was common sense and friendly.



Saturday’s obstacle challenge practice was set up in the big arena for everyone to practice. Lots of different obstacles were available; noodles, barrels in the cow shoot, bridges, poles, gate, mailbox, whirling daisies in cones, keyhole with a string of flags, etc. All of the riders were helping each other, working together, cheering each other on, and Cherie Cross was available for professional guidance.

One thing I know about Mustangs is they will tolerate A LOT. This does not mean they are accepting the training, or learning, but they will tolerate until they just can’t even. There were a few times during the practice and the competition where Tim told me he had enough. He started looking for an escape, and then taking an escape. Challenging him to learn, gently taking him outside his comfort zone is one thing, but driving him to madness is not my goal. I read my horse and go at his pace, not mine.

My goal for Sunday’s competition was to complete each obstacle safely. I really didn’t care what my score was, just getting through it safely with Tim would be enough to make me happy. He completed every obstacle other than the bridge, and I gave him a pass on that because the teeter totter bridge from Saturday’s practice had really freaked him out. We have something to work on, and we ended the day happy and healthy and ready to try again.



I’m listing the obstacles with a brief summary from Sunday’s competition. There were detailed instructions given to the judges and riders.  However, Cherie Cross is a creative and crafty lass, so count on something different the next time. The obstacles were each worth 10 points (5 points for the horse, 5 points for the rider).

  1. Mount/dismount – lead horse calmly and quietly up to mounting block, mount correctly, walk to a cone, dismount and walk out.
  2. Slicker – walk in, pick up a slicker, walk to a cone, lay the slicker on the fence.
  3. Gate – open the gate, walk through and secure the gate from both sides.
  4. Mailbox – open the mailbox, get the mail, walk out and return on the other side to put the mail away
  5. Cattle guard – walk through poles
  6. Side pass – side pass left, walk forward, side pass right
  7. Barrel back through – back through a serpentine of barrels
  8. Bridge – walk over 2 bridges, turn around, walk back over bridges
  9. Dry creek crossing – natural obstacle.  Go down an embankment and up the other side, then back again.
  10. Walk in the woods – natural obstacle with dead animal skins.  Walk counter clockwise around a tree and over logs, then turn around and go back again clockwise.

More information on the rest of the Open Trail Obstacle series, check it out!

All in all, I had a great weekend with lasting memories and things to work on with my dear willing partner. Now I’m totally hooked on obstacles, and looking forward to the  Equestrian Trail Sports (ETS) Wine Country Obstacle Challenge on June 4-5, 2016 in Healdsburg, CA.

I also have the memory of literally getting stabbed in the back by a bee while I was driving home. Et tu, Bee?

That’s about it for now, thanks for reading!  Go call your mom.