building confidence on the ground

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building confidence on the ground

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  • Horse confidence on ground
  • Horse confidence through ground work

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    12-10-2009, 11:52 AM
Super Moderator
building confidence on the ground

All of my horses (Other then Riley - my 3 year old) are older (10 - 25 years). Riley is a very well behaved young man but he is only 3 and on occassion, he does what 3 year olds do, mostly on the lunge line, you know, a buck or silliness. Pistol is my tallest horse, as a youngster he was around 15.2, his withers are level with my nose. I think he's shrunk over the years and probably around 15 hands now. The rest of mine are 14.3 and 14.2

(I'm not counting Sierra, she's 5 and probably 15.3 but has a very old soul and with her walking horse heart, she'll never misbehave).

ANYHOW, Riley doesn't misbehave very often. He's over 16 hands, I havent measured him recently but I can not see over his withers anymore. They are above my head, I'm 5'2 ish.

My issue is that at shows, on the ground, I get really nervous. I am not an inexperienced person. I think it's Rileys pure size that is bursting my confidence on the ground. I'm used to handling horses that I can see over. When I walk beside Ri, I can't see anything to my right. At home he walks just behind me but at shows he's up, just enough to walk with his shoulder next to me. At home, he walks with his head level with my head. At shows, his head is much higher. I get nervous when he bucks on the lunge line at shows, not at home. He never is aggressive or aims at me. He is just being a baby. When I tack him up and I'm on him my confidence is much higher. But I've always felt better on the horse then on the ground, like I know how to react better on the horse then on the ground.

What types of excersizes can I do at home to build my control and confidence? His behavior is really good at home so I can't really practice reacting to situations but maybe I can do showmanship patterns or something?

Any suggestions?
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    12-10-2009, 01:15 PM
You should check out this article at - there is lot's of good advice on here and she posts new articles all the time!!
    12-10-2009, 01:19 PM
I have a friend that loaned me a book by Clinton Anderson - Downunder Horsemanship - she got me started with a series of ground exercises, and there were many, and I worked my mare up to the chapter on Leading Beside - it says in the book that this exercise teaches your horse to take responsibility of staying with you -- JUST WHAT I NEEDED! I started from the beginning of Chapter 6 - Essential Groundwork Exercises - some seemed a bit elementary to me, but I didn't want to skip over exercises to find myself back at square 1. The book was easy to follow, but I did have my friend there to help me because I felt a little clumsy with some of the exercises (trying to hold the horse, the stick, the long rope) - anyhow, the exercises really did help my pushy mare - I was faithful with working her - she's is big and powerful and she knows it - get in a group and she wanted to take charge (heck, she wanted to take charge whether we were in a group or not!). I will tell you, the rope halter worked wonders!
I never liked a rope halter, but decided if that's what it took to gain my mare's respect, so be it! Her behavior did change - I gained confidence (and I had been around horses since I could walk!) - and even though she would try me from time to time, I could bring her around to my way of thinking fast! Clinton Anderson's book teaches you to gain THEIR respect AND that helps raise your confidence level! It was tough to take my mare out and watch her act silly and fresh - made me look like I couldn't handle her but I really could - I just needed that nudge to begin working her and brushing up on the manners stuff. I had never followed one clinician - I sort of liked to pick something up here and there, but I will say that I think I made the right choice for my mare by using Clinton Anderson's book.
You may want to check it out and see if it's something you might be able to work with! I wish you the best of luck -- I know exactly how you feel and what you are going through!
It sounds like you have a wonderful horse - you know exactly what you are doing - it might only take a few simple exercises to get Riley just where you want him! And, you will feel all the better for it! You guys have a lot of fun years ahead of you!
    12-10-2009, 01:39 PM
Super Moderator
I will check out the blog and I'm really interested in the clinton anderson book. I'll have to go to barnesandnoble and see if I can locate it! Thanks. I hate feeling this way. I am not really ... AFRAID of him because he's not a mean horse but it's like, he does something and I know I'm supposed to hold my ground and advance towards him but my mind says... he's bigger, back up... and the bad thing is, I don't think he's "fighting" me when he does stuff... I think it's really 3 year old antics. I hate that it makes me nervous.
    12-10-2009, 02:38 PM
I might have a couple for you that will help.
A lot of the nervous feeling seems to come from the proximity of the horse to the handler and the size of each.
A person can feel(for whatever reason) a loss of control.
I have a few ground exercises that I have folks do to kind of warm up.

Stand in the middle of a round pen with you safest horse and just be next to him with no halter,lead rope,or whip.
After the both of you are calm,relaxed, and BREATHING,Face the horses neck from his left shoulder.
Look out like you are looking through the horses neck,put your hands out in front of you and just walk slowly forward.
You have to believe that the horse is going to move out of your way and you have to walk straight with your head up.
You can't push the horse and only project yourself in a straight line.
Hold your left hand up high enough so the horse does not throw his head over yours(put it in his eye sight).
Sometimes the horse needs a small tap on the shoulder with the right hand.
Your horse will tell you if you are going too fast or too slow and just keep doing the exercise.

Now reverse it from the other direction.
You just want the horse to get out of YOUR road!
This can ease your feeling of the horse being above you.

I have several other and will try to take some pictures.

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