Over the past few decades, an evolution in how we go about training horses has encouraged horse owners to spend more time handling their horse on the ground in order to achieve good behavior, mutual trust, and a healthy partnership—before they ever think about getting in the saddle. This has created a generation of horsemen and women perfectly poised to pursue the competitive and social benefits of the sport of Horse Agility.

Thanks to the International Horse Agility Club and its founder, Vanessa Bee, Horse Agility is now the fastest-growing new equestrian sport in the world. Horse lovers from North America, Europe, Great Britain, Australia, and indeed, all over, are discovering the joys and benefits of competing their horse from the ground, over obstacles. The sport is a natural evolution in today’s age of natural horsemanship: fun, exciting, competitive sport with the well-being of the horse in mind.

Vanessa Bee is working tirelessly to bring Horse Agility as an organized sport to new heights, and with her bestselling book THE HORSE AGILITY HANDBOOK and brand new HORSE AGILITY DVD, she provides clear, step-by-step instruction on how to get started with your horse.

Ready to give Horse Agility a try? Here’s how to practice one simple obstacle at home—and as an added benefit, this obstacle helps “bombproof” your horse so you have a more enjoyable and safe partnership, whatever you choose to do together!

Learn how to master The Curtain obstacle in THE HORSE AGILITY HANDBOOK by Vanessa Bee.
Learn how to master The Curtain obstacle in THE HORSE AGILITY HANDBOOK by Vanessa Bee.

Passing Through a Curtain


The goal of this Horse Agility obstacle is that the horse trusts the handler enough to pass through a curtain of plastic or fabric ribbons.



You will need a “curtain” of ribbons at least 4 feet (1.5m) wide supported on a frame at least 7 feet (2m) high. The archway I use is made of push-together plastic plumbing pipe with straight lengths and elbows to create a frame about 7 feet (2m) high by 5 feet (1.5m) wide. Ribbons can be made of plastic or fabric—I’ve used butcher’s shop fly curtains and also had great success with an old shower curtain cut into strips. Be inventive, as long as it is safe. Make each ribbon between 3/4 in and 1 1/2 in (2cm and 4cm) in width and long enough to reach to within 18 inches (30cm) off the ground.


How to Do It


1. The principles of leading your horse through a narrow gap really come into play here (I teach you the steps to doing this well and safely in THE HORSE AGILITY HANDBOOK). Always start by leading the horse on a lead rope.Begin by making the curtain really easy to walk through: Tie the ribbons back out of the way at first, and as he gains confidence, drop down one or two lengths of ribbon at a time so he slowly gets used to it.


2. When the horse is confident about going through the curtain on the lead rope, go right back to the beginning by tying the curtain back and ask him to go through “free” (I teach you how to work with your horse over obstacles at liberty—without a lead rope—in THE HORSE AGILITY HANDBOOK). Again, drop one or two ribbons down at a time. Don’t be tempted to ask your free horse to go through the full curtain straight from doing it on a lead rope. One of the keys to being successful in free work is to make it easy for the horse to do what you ask and build on his success.


Common Problems

The main thing that causes issues here is the “solid” look of the curtain, so be sure to work with the curtain open before dropping the ribbons down.

One of the things I’ve found is that a lot of horses don’t like the feel of the ribbons running over their sides and back as they run through the curtain, so you must be careful and keep yourself out of the way when you feel your horse is going to rush. Spend some time away from the curtain touching him with plastic, bags, or ribbons—anything—although be sure you don’t annoy him. You’re getting him used to the fact that the feel of such things isn’t dangerous.


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Vanessa Bee, Founder of the International Horse Agility Club, is touring North America in May and June 2013! Check out the International Horse Agility Club website for details. Here’s a current list of scheduled events.


17th-19 May

Horse Agility Training Sessions and Mini Competitions – Colorado with Vanessa Bee

17th May (evening)

Horse Agility Training Evening in Colorado with Vanessa Bee

18th May (evening)

Horse Agility Training Evening in Colorado with Vanessa Bee

25th May

Horse Agility Fun Day in Arizona, USA with Vanessa Bee

26th -27th May

Get Really Good at Horse Agility with Vanessa Bee, Arizona

1st -2nd June

International Horse Agility Clinic in Washington, USA with Vanessa Bee


7th – 8th June

How to Get Good at Horse Agility with Vanessa Bee

9th – 10th June

How to Get Good at Horse Agility with Vanessa Bee

HorseAgility SetTHE HORSE AGILITY HANDBOOK and the new HORSE AGILITY DVD are available from the TSB online bookstore.