Is groundwork the answer to all? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 19 Old 09-22-2010, 10:18 PM Thread Starter
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Is groundwork the answer to all?

So I took my green horse to a clinic for beginner riders this weekend. Ive ridden her for almost 2 years now, so I just took her for the experience of being "out and about". She has always been nervous, and was skiddish for the first half of the clinic. (This was her fourth time off the farm Ever, and shes nine now). A lady then came in to teach groundwork. The others were using school horses, and didn't have to do anything to get thier horses to stand still. Fria was antsy, and so the lady took her to exemplify things. She claimed to be "teaching her" the groundwork she already knows, such as turn on forehand, haunches, back, and sidepass. She claimed that because of this groundwork, the horse was now much calmer, and doing groundwork was the answer for any hyper, hot horse so that they can be worked. I knew she only settled because being in the center of the indoor let her see everything, and not just a corner at a time while walking in a circle. The lady then pulled me to the side, and told be I should do groundwork with her everyday before we do anything because it was the way to go, and it helped her so much.
What are your opinions? Is groundwork the answer to all, or are there other factors that need to be added in. Shouldn't this plan change with the temperment of the horse, or the amount of activity the horse is in? I have my opinions, I just want to hear others. :)
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post #2 of 19 Old 09-22-2010, 10:24 PM
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For each person and horse it will be different. I personally don't do much (if any) groundwork with a horse past the very green, first few rides stage. However, I have the knowledge and ability to deal with almost anything under saddle. While I don't particularly agree with catering to a spookish horse, not everyone has any business trying to actually get on one that is acting like that. Groundwork can help with a lot of things but no, it isn't an answer for everything. If the groundwork helps your mare to be calm and relax, then that's what's important. You need to do what you think benefits you and your mare. If you aren't interested in doing groundwork every day, then don't. If you want to give it a shot, then do. Whatever you do, if done correctly, won't hurt your mare at all.

Always remember that feeling of looking at a big, open country over the ears of a good horse, seeing a new trail unwind ahead of you, and that ever-spectacular view from the top of the ridge!!! Follow my training blog:
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post #3 of 19 Old 09-22-2010, 10:28 PM
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Personnally I don't think ground work is the answer to everything, and some horses don't need to be worked on the ground before riding. (Some do but not all). I use ground work to teach my horse how to do things that are new (ie, lunging, turn on the haunches, free jumping). All of the horses I have don't need to be lunged or worked before I ride, including my young green horses. The only time I will lunge before riding is if I haven't been able to ride for months on end or they have been in a field where they can't move much, but even then I usually forgo the ground work and just get to it under saddle.

Now some horses do need to be worked on the ground before being ridden (I'm just lucky enough not to have one of those). I used to ride a 12yr old clyde x TB 17.2hh jumper. He HAD to be lunged for a good 15-30 min before being ridden as he needed to get some of his extra "spunk" out. He could buck (to the rafters) with his head touching his chest, he didn't need to put it down between his legs. He was a SUPER well trained horse, just needed that extra time working before hand to be safe.
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post #4 of 19 Old 09-22-2010, 10:30 PM
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Too many people rush past solid groundwork. Building a solid groundwork foundation will make everything else so much easier. When I got my draft he was 2 years old and over 16 hands but my vet said no riding until into his 4th year.

So I spent the next two years doing nothing but groundwork and bonding. I did everything from the ground I knew I'd be doing in the saddle. We did on the ground trail obstacles, we did on the ground dressage, walked all over the property and out on the trails by hand.

The day I decided to finally ride I still hadn't found a saddle or bridle to fit him so I fashioned up a couple of reins, put them on his halter, hopped on and rode off into the sunset. Never had a problem with him other than some growling and tail swishing when he doesn't want to work.

Groundwork should not be rushed or passed over completely. There are hundreds of threads on this very forum where people present a problem and the majority of the replies are generally - get off and get the groundwork going again.

It's one of my pet peeves about people that train. I always say, if you want a horse you can ride right now, buy one that way. Don't get a young or green horse if you don't want to put the time into the horse. It's way more rewarding.

Groundwork does not have to be a boring thing. I always found ways to keep my boy engaged and that is the key for both the horse and person.

Unless it weighs a ton... it's just a horse. Draft horse motto.
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post #5 of 19 Old 09-22-2010, 10:31 PM
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My teacher says that the horse at the end of your lead rope is the horse you are going to ride. Meaning; if the horse at the end of the lead rope is agitated, or scared or ignorant of respecting human space, or just lazy, tuned out or switched off. or whatever. That emotional being and it's relationship to you doesn't change because you are on top of it. So, if you like the way your horse is on a leadline, the level of response and connection and obedience you have with her, then why bother to do ground work? Is there something about your horse , when you are riding or leading her that you think needs changing? or does she meet your expectations now? IF NOT, then ground work could be beneficial. It can improve the horse's attention to its' rider and your attention to the horse. It can provide physical suppling with bends and stepping under, backig up. But it's the quality of those movements and how the horse is emotionally connected to the rider that is more importat than just getting him to back up a certain number of steps.
Say, take backing up. If the horse backs up slowly and only with a ton of pressure on the leadline and his response to your "ask" is glacial, that is the way he will back up UNDER you when you ride. So, do you want that? I want my horse to back up lightly and not DRAG his front feet along the ground, not throw him head up in resistance, and I want him to be thinking about backing up just as soon as he feels me put pressure on the line in that direction. That starts building his mental connection to me, and mine to him because I have to be in tune with his "try" so that I can reward promptly, just as I should be doing when in the saddle.
What do you think? Could you see some value in ground work? Or do you like things just the way they are? It's up to you whether you need it or not.
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post #6 of 19 Old 09-23-2010, 12:13 AM
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I think that groundwork is very helpful in creating a bond, trust and respect, as I don't plan to show in halter classes, I do not go nuts with it.
But I would want a horse to respect me on the ground before I rode it.
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post #7 of 19 Old 09-23-2010, 12:26 AM
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I think groundwork has its place. I am not very diligent with it though. And as far as it helping a spooky-skittish type...I think the only thing that helps those horses is WORK. Ground work/saddle work/harness work. Get him/her sweating 6 days a week and I bet that nervousness goes away. A tired horse is a good horse.
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post #8 of 19 Old 09-23-2010, 12:48 AM
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Originally Posted by corinowalk View Post
Get him/her sweating 6 days a week and I bet that nervousness goes away. A tired horse is a good horse.
LOL, ain't that the truth. It's amazing how quickly a crow hopper or a snorty booger will walk around like an old kid pony after you finish loping the 6th mile on them. Like my Dad always said "When you're riding a horse that wants to booger at everything and act like a fool, then get on them and pick a spot on the horizon. Lope them to that then pick another spot and lope them to that. When you cannot get them to lope anymore without shagging their ass, then you are starting to make headway."

Do that for 4 or 5 days in a row and, holy cow, they walk when you want them to walk, don't spook at everything, and are content to just stand when you don't tell them to move.

Always remember that feeling of looking at a big, open country over the ears of a good horse, seeing a new trail unwind ahead of you, and that ever-spectacular view from the top of the ridge!!! Follow my training blog:
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post #9 of 19 Old 09-23-2010, 12:52 AM
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I like your Dad, smrobs! I betcha he had some great horses in his day!
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post #10 of 19 Old 09-23-2010, 06:35 AM
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Groundwork is a way to get a horse to pay attention to you. Yes you can hop on and forgo the groundwork and get them to pay attention in saddle but sometimes its good to go back and refresh them and see if there is anything needed to work on. Depends on the horse.
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