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How to Build an Equine Obstacle using Framing Lumber and Pool Noodles

How is it the MIDDLE OF JULY already?? Honestly, I am thankful for the mild summer in San Diego, especially after last year, when it was hot AND humid for like, a million days. Maybe that's why I feel like I've been blind-sided? It cannot possibly be July if it's not hot, right? I got into the pool yesterday, for the first time this summer. That seems so weird to say! I understand if you don't have time to read all about my life. You can skip to the good stuff here.

We completed our first three-week couples workshop. I am thrilled to say that it went well. We put a lot of effort into the planning, execution, and curriculum. The week leading up to the last meeting was a busy one for me. During our last session, our couples had to work as a group to build their own equine obstacle course, which meant I had to build more obstacles they could choose from.


The couples also had to decide on the rules for getting through their obstacles, and consequences for breaking those rules... THEN clients had to halter a horse, (the horses were roaming freely in the arena as clients built their obstacle course), and walk said horse through the obstacle course as couples. I can honestly say, fun times were had by all, and we only laughed at folly a little. (That was a lie. We laughed a lot, but all in the spirit of fun!). Remember, this workshop was all about marriage. How is it that we can use a game/obstacle course as a metaphor for marriage? Marriage truly is about getting through an obstacle course. We need rules and consequences for breaking them. Oh, and HONEY was back from training, and now has her own collage on Pandemonium!! Check out the Meet the Herd page for her bio!

Not only was she back but she arrived around 7:00 a.m. the morning of the last session! She had never been turned out with Tbone and Zeus before, so I had all three of them in the arena at 7:15, when she acted just like the proverbial chestnut, Thoroughbred mare! Never, ever tell anyone that your horse is submissive. She will prove you wrong. Honey and Zeus started backing into one another and kicking like idiots. We ALL got a workout after that! I lunged horses like crazy - and in an arena, it's a lot of work because they know when they are far enough away from me that they can safely slow down and/or disobey completely. I had to run to keep up. It was only about 60 degrees, but I had sweat dripping down my back, and my hair was drenched. I DESPISE being sweaty. It is nasty. As with children, though, ya gotta do whatcha gotta do, and lunging to a horse is a metaphoric wooden spoon to a toddler. We never use a whip on our horses because we don't have to. We push them forward or back with our body language. The whip is just an extension of our arms because we are in open spaces and need to be bigger. (Neither did we spank our kids very often, but if the spoon was near me, they behaved better.) Clients arrived at 9:00 a.m., so it was a good thing they are relatively good horses! Moving on... You know how I digress... How to Build an Equine Obstacle Using Framing Lumber and Pool Noodles

pool noodles and lumber for obstacle course
Equine Obstacle Course Using Framing Lumber and Pool Noodles

Building obstacles for your DIY obstacle course is not difficult at all. Once you know how to build one of these pool noodle guys, you can build all sorts of things. I started with the following: 4"x4"x8' 2"x4"x8' 2 1/2 " coarse drywall screws Drill Spade or Paddle Bit Dewalt Miter Saw (Just buy it! You'll be glad you did!) Speed Square (It's really a triangle, but whatever!) 3/4" PVC pipe Gorilla Glue Clear I started by trimming my 4x4's to 84". It's much easier to work with for me, but I'm short. If you're tall, knock your socks off and leave it 96"! Next, I cut four segments of 2x4 to 18", and then beveled one corner to 45 degrees. Horses LOVE to spend money. If you have never had a horse, you are in for it! They happily spend a fortune in vet bills. If there is a way for them to hurt themselves, they will find it, so make sure to bevel the top of the 2x4's for safety's sake!! No, I've never seen a horse hurt themselves on the base of an obstacle, but if it's remotely possible, they will.

Remove one corner for safety!

Next, I laid the 4x4 on the tailgate and used my speed square to measure 8" increments so I could drill holes to receive PVC pipe segments. I used a 7/8" spade or paddle bit to make holes for 3/4" PVC pipe. I tried the 3/4" spade bit, but even with a rubber mallet was not able to make the pipe fit. You might have more luck.

a drill and lumber
Adding receiving holes for PVC segments

a spade bit and lumber with a hole
7/8" Spade Bit

Because I used a slightly larger spade bit, I added a ton of glue! I glued both, around the rim of the hole and the end of the pipe. If I saw a gap after, I added glue! I honestly don't want to have to do this again. That's part of the reason I used gorilla glue! That stuff is magic!

6" PVC segment inserted into 4x4 post

Finally! Time to assemble!

dog sleeping next to a pile of lumber, drill, glue and carpenter square
Adding the Base to the Horse Obstacle

My favorite work surface is the tailgate of my truck. It's just the right height for me. I am not building furniture, so squaring things by eye or feel is good enough. I square up the base with the bottom and side of the 4x4, and secure it with two 2.5" screws. Flip the 4x4 to the adjacent side and repeat this step till it looks like this:

2x4 and 4x4 framing lumber sitting in dirt
Base of Horse Obstacle for Equine Obstacle Course

Once the glue is dry, place the pool noodle on the exposed end of the PVC pipe. Build a second one, and place them pool noodles facing one another. The goal is to have the horse walk between the posts while being touched by the noodles. I've noted that children also like to go through this obstacle... I'm not sure what that says about them, or my parenting, but if they are dirty and tired at the end of the day, it was a good day.

If you make your own equine obstacles, please send a photo! I love to see how you improve on my very basic design. When we bounce ideas off of one another we make some awesome stuff!

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