For anyone who has struggled to float a horse, this can be an invaluable training game that will help your horse be braver in small spaces....making it perfect to help with float training....without the need for a float itself.
What do you need: 2 OLD LARGE TRACTOR TYRES and a shovel and about an hour's hard work digging.
Cost:approx $5-10 each tyre from a tyre dealer or farmer etc
TO MAKE IT:Just dig 2 slots in firm ground and insert tractor tyres upright like they were still on the tractor-pack firmly with the spare soil-there should be enough room between them for a horse to fit through as shown.
PLAYTIME WITH TYRES: Once they are in place PLEASE DO NOT FORCE YOUR HORSE STRAIGHT THROUGH THEM as this defeats the object of the game, which is to build his confidence in you and increase his ability to tolerate small spaces, as well as teach him to move his feet within a confined space to help him balance in a vehicle.
DO NOT LEAD YOUR HORSE THROUGH THE TYRES-this again defeats the object-you need to send him on his own gradually between this small space for this exercise to work.
We need to build up to going through these gradually so you should take your horse to the tyres for a look and perhaps a sniff-the moment his behaviour changes towards them take him away.....so for example if his head cocks to a side or he raises his head etc...all signs of worry-then you MUST take him away immediately to keep his confidence in tack.
This is called APPROACH AND RETREAT and works perfectly with his equine psychology...as if he is scared of something he will naturally run away from it and re-approach when he is satisfied the threat has gone, so by doing this you are working with his instincts....and every time you take him away and re approach you show him that you care more about HIS NEEDS over your goals to get him through the tyres, which makes him more confident in you and more able to want to try harder for you as he trusts you not to force him when he's scared, as you prove you are trustworthy to him each time you take him away when he's worried.
Each visit to the tyres should be progressive and it won't be long before he can accept being squeezed between this narrow space,and then you can do heaps more exercises around the tyres like asking him to stop in between them,then move left 50cm or right which helps him to understand balance within the float, or to back up which is almost a blind manoeuvre for a horse as he can't see under his legs when he is between the tyres so it puts a lot of trust in you, and simulates backing out of the float or to go sideways around them etc...which all builds his confidence in you, as floating is all about trust for horses.
Once your horse can accept being in this narrow and confined space you could even put a bar or rope, or chain in a hosepipe etc...across the back and front of the tyre to make it more like being in a float,again building up to how long he can tolerate this to teach your horse confidence to be in a confined space, and before you know it floating will be no big deal :)
Check out some of our horses in the tyres-
In the first photo Max shows Otto how its done....Max was once terrified of these tyres and now is not bothered by them as you can see, though by Otto's turned head it shows he is a little worried about it, so easy does it with Ots.
2nd photo:Gabby waits patiently with no pressure for a muddy Dash, then takes him away to retry again when he is feeling braver.
3rd photo:Gandalf shows off running through them as he has been completely desensitised to them with practice...and floats beautifully due to this exercise too.