Obstacle Idea: Using Traffic Cone Bars

Traffic cone bars! Where have you been all my life? I had no clue until recently that they even existed. I stumbled upon them online and quickly acquired a pair.

I mentioned in previous posts my fondness for riding through obstacles. I love incorporating them in both riding and groundwork routines.

Unfortunately, the greatest difficulty for me in using obstacle is that I don’t have a riding arena. I have no place to set up obstacles and leave them. Instead, I set up a few items periodically in my round pen or in a corner of a pasture. I have to use light weight, simple to maneuver items. Things that make for easy set up and take down. Traffic cone bars fit the bill!

Most of the ones I see advertised are adjustable in size, retractable from about 4 to 7 feet. Weighing around a pound, they seem made out of a light pvc-type plastic. At about $20 a piece, they are more expensive than I would like. If you do a lot of obstacle work like I do, though, the cost might be worth it to you.

I only have two cone bars at the moment. I can see that once my collection grows larger, they could be used to design all kinds of fun little mazes. Luckily even with just the two cone bars, I can set up little chutes. If you’ve never tried to ride through a narrow area or send your horse through a narrow area out ahead of you during groundwork, you might be surprised at what good practice this is.

Shiloh is mostly getting the Winter off from work, but I try to periodically climb on bareback just for fun. Anxious to try out my new toys, I set up four cones and the two cone bars to make a little squeeze chute to ride through during our most recent ride. It was sunny, but cold that day, so I decided just to stay in the horses’ paddock since I knew it would be a quick bareback ride due to the temperature.

After our ride, I figured Shiloh would return to eating from his hay bag under the run in shed. Instead, he walked over to the cone bars and proceeded to walk back and forth between them all by himself. Funny! He then amused himself by rearranging the cones and bars with his nose several times.

When I eventually started to drag the cone bars out of their paddock, Shiloh faced my direction and placed his two front hooves on his tire pedestal that is near one of the paddock exit gates. Apparently he wasn’t done with our play session just yet.

This Winter, we’ve been working on “saluting” with one hoof when he’s on the tire. I thought I’d place a cone bar in front of him and see if I could encourage him to tap the bar as he came down from the salute.

He actually did it very easily but ending up taking the cones with him on the set down. Ha! The cone bars survived the day’s horse play, but I don’t think they are solid enough to withstand being stepped on or chomped. I wouldn’t leave them out unsupervised with horses for this reason.

Even Bear decided to get in on the fun and repeatedly tapped a nearby cone with his hoof while Shiloh was using the tire pedestal. I am pretty sure Bear remembers some of the work with cones we used to do together when he was ridden. We would ride up to an upright cone. Bear would hook one front hoof over the cone and pull it towards him so the cone was on its side. Then we would do a turn on the forehand to end up facing the other side of the cone. Bear would complete the maneuver by hooking the other front hoof on the edge of the cone to pull the cone upright once again.

I always thought he found doing that quite fun and thought himself very clever. I sometimes had trouble riding him away from the cone, because he kept wanting to play! I think the positive association with our bright orange cones remain in his memory even though he has been retired for about three plus years now. I unfortunately couldn’t find a full series of photos of him performing this trick from start to finish, but I did find a few snap shots that might help you better visualize it.

Long story short, I am very pleased with my cone bar purchase. They sure do make a fun addition to my pile of backyard obstacles. I hope to buy a few more this year and see how else I can incorporate them into my horse riding. If you would like to possess your very own cone bars, you can find them for sale at many hardware stores or Amazon.

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