Horse agility: unmounted competition for you and your horse

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Chances are you’ve heard of dog agility, where owners test their animal’s prowess at tackling a series of obstacles. Now, a natural horsemanship trainer from Devon has adapted this to create ‘horse agility’.

And equestrians don’t have to be mounted — they lead their horse round the course.

“It’s like dog agility, but with bigger obstacles,” explained Vanessa Bee, who came up with the idea just before Christmas.

“The sport is great for people who can’t or don’t want to ride, disabled people who are unable to ride but can move alongside a horse as it completes the obstacle course, horses that are unable to be ridden due to behavioural problems or for physical reasons, and ponies that are too small for an adult rider.”

She has been “swamped” with people wanting to take part since she set up the Horse Agility Club six weeks ago and the first event is set to take place at Mendip Stud in Somerset on 21 February.

Dawn Westcott, of North Devon, will be competing with her five-year-old Exmoor stallion Hawkwell Versuvius, or “Bear”.

Ms Westcott said: “Horse agility is one of the most exciting new equestrian sports because a good ridden relationship starts on the ground.”

At the higher levels, horses compete at liberty without a lead rope. Competitors can then move on to “wild agility” in which horse and handler travel at least 5km across country against the clock, completing a number of natural obstacles along the way.

For more information visit www.horseagilitygb.com

This article was first published in Horse & Hound (18 February, ’10)

Originally published on horseandhound.co.uk