How to make ground work interesting?

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How to make ground work interesting?

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  • Fun ground work for a horse
  • Make my groundwork with my horse more interesting

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  • 4 Post By Red Gate Farm

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    10-24-2011, 10:52 AM
How to make ground work interesting?

I am doing a lot of ground work with my horse and I am looking for ways to make it more interesting and fun. He already has perfect ground manners but I want to just play around with him and get him more used to situations he might encounter on the trail. I do a few minutes of lungeing and practice getting him to move in the direction I am pointing. Then we go for walks and I have him following me around and over a fallen tree without a lead rope. I am also working to get him to go ahead of me in some situations. What can I set up or make to help make it more interesting and varied for my horse and I? I am doing a lot of ground work while I am getting my confidence back (I had a very bad accident on another horse in July) and I am also sending this horse to a professional trainer for a month in a couple of weeks. He is saddle broke but I want to make him better.
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    10-24-2011, 11:11 AM
I love doing stuff like this!

Set up a trail class and lead him through it. Expose him to a bridge, water, cones, poles on the ground, mail box, put on a slicker and take it off, drag something, etc.

If you don't have a bridge built, you can use a 4 x 8 sheet of plywood (ensure it's not slippery!) or a tarp staked down to walk across. The tarp can also be the "water".

The cones are set up so you can weave him through them, or back him up around them.

Set up the poles in a straight line, stagger them, raise one end a bit, mix them up each time and lead him over them so he doesn't anticipate the pattern. Set them up in an open L shape and back him through them. Set them up in a box and lead him in, turn him 180 degrees without stepping outside them and lead him out. When he's got that, turn him the full 360 degrees.

If he's good for you taking mail out of the mailbox, rig it up to squeak a bit when you open it and try him again. Get him used to the mail dropped on the ground.

To drag something, you hold the rope and walk beside him. You're actually dragging the items, but he sees it close to him, following him and gets used to it.

For a gate, if you don't have one, two standards with a rope between them will work.

Have fun!
    10-24-2011, 01:46 PM
Does this horse have good lateral flexion and does he know how to back?those kind of things will help a trainer be able to get things done easier and faster.
    10-24-2011, 01:54 PM
What Red Gate Farms said! I did nothing but ground work with my Aires for the first two months I had him. We did the trail course in the arena, we went for trail walks out on the back streets behind the barn. Anything that could expose him to as much as possible and put us in as many interesting situations as possible. As a result, I now have a two-year-old who will go over anything I ask him to without hesitation, will stop in weird places (had fun with the trail bridge in the arena last time we rode...stopped him with just his front feet on it, then made him go forward and stop with just his back feet on it...gonna work on backing over it next time), and doesn't spook at anything. Heck, he was plowing through bushes and trees the first time we went for a trail ride while my friend's 9yo arab gelding who is an endurance horse was freaking out at just about everything. Lol Oh, and Aires now has an obsession with mailboxes because I introduced him to those on one of our first trail walks. Now he will drag me over to a mailbox to investigate it.
    10-24-2011, 02:43 PM
Super Moderator
Think about what you want your horse to be able to do once you are in the saddle; Stop , back, disengage hindquarters or things that come to mind.

When you send your horse over a log, can you get him to go over, then disengage hind and stop, turn and come back over?

Will he stop promptly when you lead? When you stop, does he stop pronto?

Can he sidestep over a log?

Can you send him into a stall, have him turn around and come back out? (on a line)?

When you free lunge him, will he really , honestly go forward when you say go!

Can you move just one foot at a time? Can you put a rope around his fetlock and have him pick up that foot? Is he ok with wandering around with a leadline dragging on the ground? Can he ground tie?
    10-24-2011, 10:25 PM
Hmm lots of questions he does know how to back and has pretty good lateral flexion, more on the left side than the right side. I haven't tried to disengage his hind quarters when he is going over a log, or side passing over a log (never thought of that but its a good idea) Without holding a leadrope (as long as he is tacked up and realizes he is working) he will walk when I walk, turn when I do, speed up, or slow down to keep beside me and will stop or back when I do. If I have a lead rope on him and step away from him he will turn to face me and then will go in the direction I point. He yields hind quarters at a touch on his side and is starting to understand to move his front quarters over with a touch on the shoulder, he is starting to pick up sidepassing from the ground but finds it much harder in one direction than in the other) . I can't say he is completely ground tied because he will stay only about 60% of the time. I never tried moving just one foot at a time............. how would I teach that? I would like to be able to send him into a trailer on a line but we are not there yet. We have also walked over tarp and plastic feed bags that I put out to blow in the wind. Red Gate farms you have some great ideas and I am going to start settings some things up like the poles and patterns .
    10-24-2011, 11:10 PM
Super Moderator
Moving one foot at a time is good for you to try to really feel how you would need to set the horse up to be able to do this. For example, if you want him to move his left fore, and you are facing him, you have to position him so that he has weighted his right fore, because in order for him to move a foot, it most be unweighted, so the opposite foot must BE weighted.

Sending him into and over things is good preperation for trailer loading, though I confess to not be any sort of pro there.

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