Horses Get City Savvy

Urban obstacle course offers equestrians a place to train in Norco.

For Angelenos, trash bags, mattresses and traffic noise blend in to the urban scenery, but for their horses, that scenery can cause a frightened panic.

Some local equestrians are helping to change how horses see our city environment.

The Press-Enterprise reported that in Norco, equestrian event coordinator Liza Rogers recently opened Rancho Santiago Obstacle Course, a place where riders can lead their horses around a bevy of potentially scary obstacles, allowing riders to desensitize their horses.

"Anything they see is potentially a monster that's going to eat them," Liza Rogers told The Press-Enterprise, "It's all that stuff that's on our streets."

For $10 a day, trainers can expose their horses to a combination of the 57 obstacles that Rogers has set up including a mattress, hula hoops, noisemakers, plastic bags, tarps, a shaky bridge, leaf blower and inflatable decorations.

"Works like a charm," Molly Jenks told the Press-Enterprise, a horse trainer whose mustang, Yeager, needed almost eight tries before it conquered a simulated unstable bridge Wednesday. "You may not always run into a mattress, but you need to feel confident that you can get him by without getting into the street."

Rogers also plans to add new obstacles to anticipate seasonal frights to horses. She plans to build a giant snowman around Christmas and pop balloons to simulate fireworks for the next Fourth of July.

According to Rogers, the idea is spreading. She says that other equestrian urban obstacle courses have also opened in Hemet, Perris and Moreno Valley.

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