Setting up a packgoat obstacle course
I've been to a few packgoat obstacle course competitions by now and have also set up a few myself and I'm starting to learn what works and what doesn't, so I thought I'd start a thread with a few pictures of things we've seen and done with explanations in case anyone here ends up competing in or running a packgoat obstacle challenge. This might give you an idea of what to expect if you are competing, and it might also give you ideas if you have to design a course for a show. I would love it if folks who have competed in or run a packgoat obstacle course would also submit pictures and descriptions of other types of obstacles they've done. I'll add to this thread in future as I get more pictures and encounter more obstacles. 

Jumble Poles (easy): 
Make a pile of poles on the ground that the goat must walk through. High score for going smoothly through the middle and not knocking the poles. Deduct points for balking, skirting near the edge, hitting poles, stumbling.  

Bridge (easy): 
This may be set on a tarp to simulate a creek. This is very easy for most goats, but points are deducted for balking, stepping off the side of the bridge, jumping over the bridge, not touching all four feet to it, or scooting over in a hurry.  

Ducking Under Foliage (easy):
Set a pole about 4 feet above the ground and hang "foliage" from it. The foliage can be as fancy as real (or fake) tree branches and ivy, as "spooky" as foil streamers, or as basic as strings of baling twine. The pole should not be less than 3 1/2 - 4 feet above the ground to accommodate tall goats wearing crossbuck saddles. While it might seem a fun challenge to make a goat crouch and scoot under, this would not be safe in a simulated setting since the pole could fall on the goat and/or handler. Points deducted for balking, bumping the pole with head or horns, chewing the streamers. 

Campsite Etiquette (easy to moderate): 
Set chairs around a campfire ring and put tasty food items on the chairs. Set pokers with marshmallows on the chairs and stick them toward the center to make this obstacle more challenging. You can get creative with a tent and tent stakes, a table full of food, etc. The handler and goat must successfully navigate a path through the campsite. Points deducted for goats raiding food, knocking into chairs, pokers, or other obstacles, tripping on tent pegs. The goat should demonstrate carefulness and ability to negotiate tight turns.  

Truck/Trailer Loading (easy to difficult): 
This is one of the more practical obstacles encountered on a course and it can either be one of the easiest or the hardest depending on how it is set up. A trailer is easy for most goats. But loading in a truck bed can be very difficult depending on how high the tailgate is and whether a step or ramp is provided. If a truck with no step is used then this obstacle demonstrates more than any other whether the goat has previously been taught to load at home. For novice classes, always use a trailer or a low vehicle. If using a full-sized truck for a novice class, make sure to provide a secure step that is tall enough and wide enough to make the jump inviting for young handlers and inexperienced goats alike.  
Jump (easy to difficult):
This obstacle is fun because the difficulty can be chosen by the handler. I like to set one end of the jump at 2' 6" - 2' 9". The other end sets at ground level or up to 6". The handler chooses which part of the jump to cross. More points are awarded depending on how high the goat jumps. Points are deducted for balking or hitting the jump. No points are awarded if the goat knocks the jump down. 

Trot Obstacle (moderate): 
This practical demonstration obstacle can be set up any number of ways. It may have trot-over poles evenly spaced apart, weave poles/cones, or just a straight distance from one cone to another. If you are setting up this obstacle, make sure to leave plenty of distance to demonstrate a nice trot. This obstacle is often not given enough space. If using weave poles/cones, make sure they are set far enough apart that a big goat can successfully negotiate them at a trot. High score goes to goats who trot willingly on command without being dragged or struck from behind with the leash.   

Narrow Bridge (moderate): 
A narrow bridge can be set directly on the ground or elevated above it using a 2" x 12" board about 12 feet long. Above-ground bridges are psychologically easier for the goat but must be safely constructed and not too high (I heard about one that was 5' off the ground and a goat fell off it!). Straw bales, cinder blocks, and log rounds all make good end supports. The board should be supported in the middle so a heavy goat can't crack it. If a suitable board isn't available, this obstacle can be set up using two 12'-long poles set about 12" apart. The goat must walk between the poles without stepping on them or outside them. Some goats will demonstrate a natural ability to walk on top of one pole for the entire length. While certainly amusing, this is not worth extra points.   

Standing Still for Spooks (moderate to difficult):
This obstacle can be presented many different ways. The photo here is of a girl who has put on a raincoat and opened an umbrella while her goat ground ties next to her. The coat was set on one of the cones, and the handler had to walk around the goat with the umbrella opened. This is a difficult obstacle because the goat is required to stand ground tied while the handler walks around him. Simpler obstacles should not require ground tying. Another way to do this would be to have a raincoat or tarp placed in the packsaddle before the start of the course. At some point the handler would have to stop the goat, remove the "scary" item and shake it out/put it on while the goat stands. You can also have a handler remove and then replace a packsaddle, throw a tarp or blanket over a goat, etc. The main objective is to demonstrate that the goat will stand still and not spook at the item that is being presented. 

Ground tie (difficult): 
This is one of the more practical demonstrations on an obstacle course. It shows that the goat has been worked extensively at home and is obedient to the "whoa" command when not restrained. I have had contestants park their goats near a cone at most shows, but the inconspicuous nature of a single cone meant that the obstacle was often overlooked. So for the last show I used a hula hoop which worked very well as a visual aid. Handlers had to park their goat's front feet inside the hoop, drop the rope, and walk around the cone. The goat's front feet must remain inside the hoop to get points. Points are deducted if the goat moves or if the handler rushes. 
Sled Drag (moderate): 
Have the goat drag a sled weighed down with about 15 lbs. so it doesn't slither and bounce. Putting firewood or camping gear in the sled makes this obstacle feel practical. Make sure the drag rope has a handle loop and is long enough that the sled can't hit the goat's back legs. Goats with packsaddles should have the rope looped around the front crossbuck. If the goat does not have a saddle, the handler should lead the goat with one hand and drag the sled with the other. Have them pull the sled around a marker and back, otherwise the obstacle will have to be reset after each contestant. You can vary this obstacle by having the goat drag a tree branch or other item. Just make sure it's something a child can easily pull. You can also make the obstacle more difficult by having the goat drag a "spookum" such as a bunch of empty milk jugs tied together, or a bag full of rattling aluminum cans.  

Stepping Stumps (moderate):
Set up a series of 3-5 stumps and have the goat step from one to the other without touching the ground. This obstacle seems easy, but most goats have a tendency to step down between or abandon the stumps entirely in favor of walking on the ground. Make sure the stumps are large enough to accommodate a full grown goat and that they are short and wide enough to prevent wobbling or tipping. Space them at such a distance that the average goat can step from one to the other without jumping.  

Hoof Care (easy to moderate):
This is an easier version of the ground tying challenge because the handler never has to leave the goat. Place a marker on the ground with a hoof brush on it. The goat should stop next to the marker while the handler picks up the hoof brush and drops the goat's leash on the ground. The handler then picks up the goat's left front foot and brushes it clean. To make this obstacle easier, have the handler hold the leash over one arm or grip it between their knees. To make it harder, have the handler clean all four hooves. The goat should stand still and be obedient about lifting his feet.

Water Crossing (moderate to difficult): 
Depending on how you set it up, this can be one of the most challenging obstacles on any course. Fill a plastic paddle pool with water. Add dirt to the bottom for traction. To make this obstacle easier, put a stump in the center so the goat can hop across the pool without getting his feet wet. For an advanced class, the goats should be required to walk through the pool. This obstacle is often presented in amateur classes without the stump as an amusement for the audience since most goats absolutely will NOT step into the pool willingly and often both goat and handler end up wet. This isn't very fair since smaller goats can be dragged in and complete the obstacle without training because they haven't got the physical strength to avoid it. Adding a stepping stump reduces the spectacle, but it shows which goats lead willingly over water and which don't. Advanced competitors should be required to walk the goat across without the stump. The goat should step all four feet in the water as he crosses. 

Teeter-Totter (easy to moderate): 
A teeter-totter is a fun obstacle and usually easy for the goats depending on how it is constructed. An easy, low teeter-totter can be set up using a piece of plywood nailed to a round log. Make sure the teeter-totter goes smoothly back and forth. To increase the challenge, use a narrower board and raise the height of the fulcrum. Make sure that any teeter-totter you build is sturdy and can't fall over or collapse under the weight of a full-sized packgoat. Also make sure it is not slippery. The steeper the teeter-totter, the more important this is. You can add wooden traction strips to the board and/or paint the board using sand in your paint mixture.
Some cool ideas there for my little home obstacle play area. Thanks for sharing!
Have a nice day, & hug your goats often!   Heart 
I plan to keep adding obstacles as I get photos. I really don't like posting obstacles unless I have a picture of it, because descriptions don't always cut it. You can feel free to post photos and descriptions of any obstacles you see or invent as well! I'd love for this thread to be a great ongoing resource, and I can always use more ideas as well.
I finally edited and published this video Phil took of me and Sputnik doing the "all natural" obstacle course at the NAPgA Rendy in 2019.
That was a fun course, the video is well done. My goats would not jump up on that rock for anything, any other day they would have been all over that rock.
Thanks! It took me a while to get Sputnik up on that rock, but in his defence he had already done the course at least twice before we shot the video and he was beyond ready for a break. In the bit where Sputnik jumps over the little log rails to the left of the big rock, the proper obstacle was to jump up that big rock face. Sputnik had already done it several times and he was DONE by the time we got around to filming, so I just had him jump the little low logs instead. Smile

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