Lets talk ground work!

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Lets talk ground work!

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  • Ground walking horse balks
  • Horseforum groundwork

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    05-18-2012, 04:26 PM
Green Broke
Lets talk ground work!

Ok, soooooooooooooooo. I have read many, many threads on multiple things and it always comes back to ground work. So, I would like to hear ideas on what groundwork is to you???

Is it, round penning in circles, hand walking, backing, what??

Take me through from beginning to end what a ground work session or sessions would be to you. Please be as clear as you can so we can all understand.

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    05-18-2012, 04:27 PM
SUBscribing :)
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    05-18-2012, 04:46 PM
Green Broke
This could take awhile lol but when i'm working on the ground (let's say with a new horse) I start by getting them used to myself and my equipment.
I use a 12 foot lead and a training stick. I get them used to having the ropes thrown over them and around their feet, waving through the air, etc.
Sometimes when a horse is nervous, a good way of getting them used to this is to lead them forward (allow them to hang as far back as they feel comfortable) and throw the rope ahead of you.
Same goes for getting them to approach you. It can give a horse confidence if you back away as they are coming towards you.
Then I teach them to yield every part of their body, first from direct pressure and then rhythmic pressure.
After they are doing this well, I also teach them to back up first with direct, then rhythmic pressure as well until they will do it with just the wiggle of a rope.
Then I move onto circling.
I ask them to back out and then move off from pressure from the stick behind them or a smooch.
And ALWAYS, when they do something I want I remove all pressure. That I believe is the best reward for a horse. Even WAY better than treats.
I also believe that if a horse's mind is engaged you should not have to exhaust their body to get them to settle down and listen.
My mare is used to these groundwork steps so now it only takes me five minutes MAX to get her calmed and paying respectful attention to me.
    05-18-2012, 04:52 PM
Green Broke
Thank you, id like to hear about respect for your space and also you as a leader. Any thoughts on this?
Crescent likes this.
    05-18-2012, 05:03 PM
Originally Posted by nvr2many    
Thank you, id like to hear about respect for your space and also you as a leader. Any thoughts on this?
Horse I am working with right now for a boarder had NO idea of the 'bubble' he was supposed to leave for his handler. Two weeks ago sent his owner home with a black eye.

To teach space I use a halter (with chain if necessary) and a dressage whip and we walk. And walk and walk. I stop, the horse stops. I back, they back. I step into their space, they turn away (think pivot if I am that tight in their space.) To get them to understand I will push them away and say 'space' or 'step'. I will tap with the dressage whip if necessary. I teach to stand while I walk all around them.(equine sit/stay) I change my energy so they will stand when I walk up to pat or halter, etc. If I push into their space, they learn to step away.

It's important to also remember to NEVER pull the horse towards you during the training process. It might seem like the long way to turn a horse around to walk into a stall or paddock but it reinforces they cannot step into your space. (on your toes)!

One week and afore mentioned horse will not invade my space. I do not give him an inch. Until the space and respect is more ingrained as a natural response for him, it will not get a break when attached to a human via lead rope, lunge line or bridle.
    05-18-2012, 06:17 PM
Whatever it requires to relax the horse and get control of his feet so that I have a chance of getting along when I get on.
    05-18-2012, 06:38 PM
Green Broke
Ok, I will share MY delima. I have horses that are buddy sour. I am going to work them from the ground to gain respect. Just wondered what others have to say about ground work. I can get on and go, any time, but alone??? Not so much! He balks, turns, spins, sucks!!!
Crescent likes this.
    05-18-2012, 06:46 PM
For me ground work is everything and anything that happens between me arriving at the gate to turning my back as I walk out the pasture. So that's catching, leading, grooming, tacking, mounting, doing gates if needed, dismounting, untacking, spounging, feed time, and turning out again. Everything is potentially a training exercise, partly because Alli needs reminders every now and again she isn't the same unhandled, boysterous mare she was allowed to be 2 years ago.

Then theres things like backing, turn on the forehand, lowering the head- and raising it (useful when worming), stepping onto things. Learning how to release herself from pressure basically. She is naturally very resistant in high pressure situations so its all about asking her to think things through before reacting.

Start with simple back and forward, then ask for turn on the forehand. I expect her to do this perfectly now so if she doesnt for being too nervous about something I get her attention back by insisting on perfection as this demends her attention back on the task in hand, not on the bird flying out the tree or whatever. After turn on the forehand I might put her into a circle on the end of her 6ft rope (dont have anything between 6ft and 24ft lolz) and use body language to ask her to stop/walk/move arse out/move head out/stand perpendicular to me/ anything that pops into my head really. If she doesnt understand I break it down into smaller chunks.

I also ask her to walk over wierd stuff and raised things to keep her quite literally on her toes. Crates, feed bags, crappy rugs, sideways along poles, sideways along shavings bales. And I ask her to wak between things that physically put pressure on her like two jump stands, or under low branches. Its all about pressure, thinking it through, trusting me and doing it.

And lungeing and longrein stuff is of course ground work. I use lunging in a headcollar to encourage her to go off voice aids only, and work in a bridle to enforce pressure-release when she gets a little too eager, but also to encourage her to go off lighter bit pressure by responding to voice aids along side gentle bit pressure. Then theres work in the pessoa (new fav bit of kit!) which supples and strengthens her. All forms of lunging enforce my leadership and teach young horses how to balance themselves on different sized circles.

Longreins are good for teaching horses to go forwards into the unknown without the support of the handler next to them, and lead horses would drive the other horses from behind in the wild.

Ground work always enforces my leadership, trust, and teaches the horse there is always a better thing to do than panic and freak out!
nvr2many and Ripper like this.
    05-18-2012, 06:52 PM
With spinning etc your signature is key! I ride through it because that's where the problem occured for me- under saddle. When the horse spinns instantly apply pressure on sides and bit to bring the horse into a tight circle until you can get them to stand facing the direction you want. Instantly release all preasure, and praise. Start up a monotone of gentle words. Ask forwards softly with no pressure on the bit at all. Keep talking when they respond correctly. Spin? Repeat above.

Eventually spin=pressure, direction you choose=nice comforting voice, gentle aids and a nice atmosphere!
nvr2many and Horsealot like this.
    05-19-2012, 01:56 AM
Green Broke
Thank you!

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