|This horse is unsure of stepping onto something he is not familiar with....
|...once in the saddle the horse is happy and confident to complete the task without hesitation!
Importance of Ground Training
There are two distinct extremes when it comes to a persons attitude to getting
a horse to do something:
STICK ATTITUDE – used by people who beat and intimidate a horse to make him do something
CARROT ATTITUDE – used by people to try to persuade the horse with tip-bits and pleads to be good –
how many times have you heard people say “good boy, good boy” as they’re being dragged out to the field
on the end of the rope – the horse is definitely NOT being a good boy and has no respect for the owner. The
owner on the other hand is hoping that the horse will be a good boy at some point!
My attitude is to be consistent, firm but gentle - to do things for the horse and with the horse not to the
horse. I am in no way saying that your horse should act as a zombie or not
show his personality – but he should be safe to handle, work with and ride – this of course only comes from a
mutual understanding and respect between you and your horse. You may
not think that your horse is a “problem horse” but that he can be “cheeky” or “at it”
from time to time. Remember though that consistency is key here and that if he gets away with something trivial
it could open the gates to bigger problems in the future. A well mannered horse
is a pleasure to own and work with. Working with an ill mannered horse becomes a chore and can be dangerous.
Good basic managers are essential. You should be able to:
The value of groundwork, in-hand or on long-lines, is a fantastic training
tool and is an excellent way of resolving both handling and ridden problems.
work around him in the stable safely while he stands still
and does not attempt to bite or kick you
lead your horse without him pulling away or walking all over you
enter his stable without having to push him out of the way or stop him barging out over the top of you
- tie him up without him pulling
back or beaking free
all over his body - there should be no "no-go" areas. This is especially important if you have to administer drugs
or treat wounds etc
load him calmly and quickly – if your horse has problems in this area DON’T wait until an emergency arises
and you NEED to load him
tack up, fit bandages, rugs
etc without any problems
clip him without sedation or
pick up his feet easily and allow a farrier to work with him without any problems
on a hack on roads or bridleways etc and be able to deal with any hazards you meet safely and calmly.
is essential to establish a good relationship with your horse on the ground. You can introduce new exercises and
tasks in-hand before trying them under saddle. This helps to smooth the way to success and is an ideal way of teaching
horses without the worry or burden of a rider on their back.
a horse from the ground also gives you the opportunity to observe his way of going. Is he using himself efficiently
or is he finding something difficult?
Effective and consistent groundwork will produce a more confident, supple, co-ordinated horse that
understands the handler’s requests and can perform the required movements easily. Once you have achieved this
safely on the ground these skills can then be transferred to your ridden work.
Groundwork can be used:
a teaching tool to help start young horses
a teaching tool to help horses learn to carry themselves without the burden of a rider
to create a safer horse to be around and handle
as an aid in the rehabilitation of horses that have become sour
help solve a high percentage of ridden problems
to build confidence in a horse frightened by life's experiences
to rebuild a bond between you and your horse if you have lost your confidence or are just starting out
to maintain fitness and suppleness in your horse if you are unable, perhaps through an injury to yourself,
or unwilling to ride
to bring a horse back
into work after an injury or time off
- to keep a retired horse supple and maintain your bond
with them, therefore keeping them happy and interested in life