Need ideas for making groundwork more fun - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 13 Old 03-16-2012, 10:03 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Arkansas
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Need ideas for making groundwork more fun

I've been doing basic groundwork with my guys for a while now. We work on leading, backing, and yielding but both me and the horses are getting bored with the repetition.

I had though maybe set up some cones to back through or something? Does anyone else have ideas to make it more interesting?
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post #2 of 13 Old 03-16-2012, 12:05 PM
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Work with a tarp too. walking over it and standing on it. Set up cones to go through, as well as do patterns with. walk from one to the next, trot in hand to the third one, stop, square up, pivot, and trot back to the first cone. It gives them something to think about. Also, work on flexing to the left and right.

If you have ground poles go over those too, walk and trot. We use pvc poles and pool noodles haha. If you have an arena to yourself, work on walking off the lead. My guy walks beside me and turns when I turn, stops when I stop, trots when I jog, etc. It also helps create a bond with your horse.
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post #3 of 13 Old 03-16-2012, 12:06 PM
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Ground work is so esstential and, as you said, as fun as you make it for you and your horse.

I'll set up barrels for teaching them to move off pressure. I stand on one side and by using a lunging whip, ask them to move around it.
You can start by having them walk around it, and if you work on getting your sidepass on the ground, you can get them to sidepass around it.

Set up a tippy bridge. Start with a flat level one as most horses don't like walking on different grounds. When they are comfortable with it, put a big fence post in the middle so it tips down as they cross it. You find these in trail classes and if you ever find yourself in a spot when the ground starts to slip and they lose balance, this is great for teaching them not to panic.

Sometimes even just going for a walk is superb groundwork. Take them out and them used to traffic going by (I always start with controlled traffic - my sister driving past ), people and dogs walking by, wildlife, etc.

Walking over and under tarps.

I always start my spins, turn on the forehand, and sidepassing on the ground as well.

Swing a rope around them to get them used to that. Under, over, and around.

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post #4 of 13 Old 03-17-2012, 09:22 PM
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I do a lot of "Circling Game" as Pat Parelli calls it, but it is pretty much just lunging...only simpler. Teach your horses to go in a circle around you on a regular 12 foot lead rope. You don't need a whip or anything, just use the end of the rope if you need to wave it behind the horse or smack him with it. Once you teach your horse this, you can have a lot of fun making him go over stuff (tarps, water such as puddles and streams, logs and other jumps, etc.)...the possibilities are endless. Its a great way to train them for certain stuff, such as crossing water, and I always do it for a minute before I mount my horse so I can get the cinch tight enough. I find it a ton of fun to teach your horse this... my mare is tought that if you just point in one direction and cluck to her, she starts circling around you in that direction. If you shake the lead rope and point the other way, she changes directions, and if you cluck while she's walking she picks up a trot. You don't need a lunging cavesson, a lunge line, a lunge whip, or any of that... just a halter and a lead rope. Its also a lot of fun to teach your horse the "YoYo Game", another Parelli game... you stand in front of him and shake his lead rope until he backs up, and then take on a submissive posture (slightly bent over, head down, licking and chewing) and "comb" the lead rope until he comes to you. If you do this enough, you can teach your horse to back up when you wiggle your finger at him, and come when you stand submissively and make the rope-combing motion with your hands. Then when you go out in the pasture, you can make him back up and come without even touching him, or bringing a rope or anything. I tought my mare all of this, and it was a ton of fun! I would recommend getting a DVD on the Parelli Seven Games. The excersizes make your horse trust you a lot more, and make him more responsive, bombproof, etc. They are also a lot of fun for you and the horse, and are all great groundwork excersizes. I learned a lot from them, and so did my horses.... hope this helps. :)
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post #5 of 13 Old 03-18-2012, 09:43 AM
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If you put two barrels, upright and the distance apart that your horse can fit, it will show you how much it takes to get your horse to back through them. Also, put a barrel with enough room to get through, next to the fence and send him between it and back between.
You may have to widen the space at first when you find out horse won't go.
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post #6 of 13 Old 03-18-2012, 05:57 PM
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If you google trail patterns you can come up with a zillion suggestions for trail that are designed to be either ridden or done in hand. With a little ingenuity even the trail patterns that are meant to be ridden can be done in hand. No matter what sport you plan for your horse to do later in life these patterns will be great experience for your youngster.

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post #7 of 13 Old 03-18-2012, 06:14 PM
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have horse step half way over a cavaletti, front legs only. then teach sidepass along the pole.
back him over polls (pretty low ones) .

get him to "chase" you as you drag a tarp. then see if he can pull the tarp with a rope over his back. you can get creative on how to rig that up, but the first few times make sure you can have the rope let go really quickly , if he freaks.

Oh, and RIDE! don't wear your horse out on the ground work.
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post #8 of 13 Old 03-18-2012, 11:26 PM
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Subbing....I want to learn too!
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post #9 of 13 Old 03-19-2012, 10:28 AM Thread Starter
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Location: Arkansas
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Sorry I took so long to get back. My dad found a "free" donkey this weekend and I had to help him with it since I am the equine person in the family. I think he is sad I am taking eyore to my place soon and so wants his own donkey.

Unfortunately I'm not able to ride any of them at the moment. Baldur is going to training later in the year to be trained under saddle.

Thor's little story: Thor was sent a few years ago to someone who was recommended to me and he came back a nervous wreck and was injured, took six months to heal his withers/shoulder area. I grilled the guy after he called me to come take my "psycho horse" home. It seems that Thor was good at first but the longer the guy rode him the more resistant Thor got. He didn't want to be saddled or mounted and ridden and he got worse every day. He bucked the guy off one day and didn't want to be caught, the next day he bucked the guy off and charged him (completely out of character for this horse). When I got him home I could not touch his withers/shoulder area without him breaking out in a sweat and shaking. Every time someone moved he jumped and started shaking. His withers were very hot so I called the vet out and he thinks the guy used an ill fitting saddle and caused the soft tissue damage. Vet said he could probably be ridden now, but would need to be monitored for signs of pain very closely. For now he is just a pasture pet.

Well, Baldur was completely unimpressed with the tarp which is good I guess, he's not spooky at all. He walked on it, wore it, got it flapped at him. I decided to walk him down to the mailbox and see how he did on a "trail". We actually have a small real bridge on our property on the way to the mail box. He didn't bat an eye going over that, although going through the creek anywhere with more than a few inches of water met with a bit of resistance. No fits, just a very unhappy looking face and slow feet.

Cars seem to be something that he needs a bit of work with apparently. He does not seem scared of them, just gets exited and wants to race them. Never had a horse that did that before. I just started asking him to do some of the groundwork we had been doing previous and he got his attention back on me.

I have an old jump course behind the barn I can use the poles from for some of the exercises mentioned here. I will also be looking up trail patterns today.
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post #10 of 13 Old 03-19-2012, 06:07 PM
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Try setting up some fun patterns and pretend you are competing in a show. Try doing some different obsticals, like setting up a tarp on the ground. Have you tried pivits yet? those are fun to teach a horse to do. Just come up with some creative funky stuff. You can also have the horse do a lot of stuff you do while riding while you are on the ground.
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