The theory behind working a horse from th ground
 
 

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The theory behind working a horse from th ground

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    08-24-2012, 07:13 AM
  #1
Started
The theory behind working a horse from th ground

The method Canterbury has outlined on another thread for dealing with a horse fresh to our yard is almost identical to that which myself and my friend employ when we take on a newcomer. We simply don’t trust all of what has been said about the animal by the previous owner/handler. Sometimes we are presently surprised but often we can see a problem in the horse that we have not been told about. It is up to us to seek out any problems the horse may have acquired – perhaps through accident, incident or poor schooling.

Working the horse in hand in the arena – and we have a full sized sand arena - is the only way for us at the beginning. We might not have a saddle that fits; we won’t know about which bit to use. We are well aware that the horse may be nervous in new surroundings away from its mates. The only way to go forwards is initially in hand and then, as soon as appropriate, on the lunge line either off a bridle or a head collar as seems to be the best way for that horse. The eventual use of the pessoa helps to encourage the horse to work itself properly and thereby to help build up muscle Mostly we have to teach the fresh horse how to respond to lunge work. So little and often is an appropriate expression. I personally, seek for the horse, whilst on long reins, to respond to voice commands and gestures as well as the reins.

It will be planned to work the horse seven days a week at around the same time of each day -in order to give the horse the concept that it is ‘going to work’. This work becomes an essential part of the horse’s daily routine. Yes, sooner or later the horse has to be mounted – but not before we have some indication and confidence that it will behave itself. The idea is constant progress – forwards - we want no regressions. Most cuts of English saddles are not designed for rodeo riding.

Eventually we shall work mounted from the saddle but by then we shall know the level of control we are likely to have by using the mildest of bits – invariably a linked snaffle.
One day – maybe a few months down the line- we shall take the horse out of the yard and onto the lanes. I always prefer to do that in hand, so that the horse can see me alongside him/her. My friend usually moves up a step and does it mounted in company with another horse – but we are aiming in different directions. She seeks a dressage horse which will carry itself in a rounded outline, whereas I am seeking a horse which can cope with the outside world.

I’ll usually walk for the first time with two of us holding lead ropes attached to a cavesson or a stallion halter. We shall go into the village and cope with whatever is thrown at us – lorries, dogs, garden machinery, noise, washing, plastic bags, etc , etc, etc. If we encounter serious trouble then we will cut the walk short and return to the yard.

Eventually when the horse has been re-backed and has a properly fitting saddle, I may well walk the horse under saddle into the village – accompanied by a helper. If I can arrange it – I’ll be the helper and a good rider will have ‘offered’ to sit the horse for its first walk into the community. The purpose of this exercise is to give the horse the confidence of my presence. To tell it that it is not alone and that there is nothing to fear. Of course, I am lying to the animal. There is a lot to fear if it breaks loose from me. What I need to find out is what might cause the animal to even hesitate, so that I can work on it.

We proceed in stages – occasionally reverting to earlier procedures, but every now and again we will drop something completely new into the horse’s training.

At some stage, I am going to have to ride the horse for the first time – unaccompanied. I recognise that something will most likely happen which will frighten the novice or rescued, or recently backed horse. Nevertheless I shall have to cope on that first ‘solo’ ride into community with whatever occurs.

The horse has eventually to become confident enough to be ‘bomb proof’ – or the nearest we can achieve to that much miss-used term. There’s no such thing as a alive bomb proof horse. Some of the sharp sports horses never make the grade. The best for my purposes is a horse with some common cold blood in its veins – preferably a cross breed of warmblood/TB with a cart horse’s cold blood. I seek a kindly horse with confidence and common sense.

I am well aware that every time I take a horse into the community I have to have as close to 100% control as I can obtain. At some stage in a walk out, I might find my self clinging on to a frightened horse in a village street. So far I have managed. There have been a few incidents but only one worthy of being called a disaster – but that’s another story.

We still have one horse on the yard which ‘sailed’ thru his indoctrination to the outside world. We have had a couple, each with a fancy pedigree, who took time to school and in truth are fit only for work in the enclosed arena – for the time being.

As a horse and rider in Britain I have virtually the same legal status on the highways as a cyclist –who rides an inert machine with pedals, brakes and handlebars. But if we, as a horse rider wearing day-glow jerkin, on a horse bedecked with day -glow and wearing a large red L (for learner) plate get it wrong, then the horse will be liable for third party property damage. I might even pay the price of over optimism by a trip to the accident and emergency department of the local hospital. Whilst hopefully some bystander will have caught the horse and returned it to the yard.

Most of the adverts placed nowadays in the UK by aspirant horse owners seem to ask for ‘ a bomb proof’ ride – “how?” I often ask myself do they think you create a horse fit to ride in a twenty first century semi urban environment.

Sitting a runway horse out on a moor or common presents the hazard that the rider might fall off – however get it wrong in a village community when the horse, whirls and bolts is a different deal all together. Luckily most horses with the temperament for hacking learn with age and experience but someone has had to give them the fundamental training. Horses aren’t born traffic proof. I don’t care if someone thinks I am chicken for not jumping on a horse’s back straightaway – I believe the horse gains confidence by being able to see me and recognise me at horse head level. Teaching that same fresh horse to recognise the aids I give it when mounted, is another chapter in its education.

I can see it becoming a legal necessity in Britain to having a licence to ride in the community and to have public liability and personal health insurance. I suspect that all that holds up the legislation is the fact that the police do not want to know the problem of enforcement.

All of us horsey folks who ride, have to adapt to the environment in which we ride and for the reason which we ride. We also have to cope with the varying temperaments of the horses we choose to ride. What suits one trainer, will not fit with another trainer who seeks a different outcome.

The biggest problem in handling a horse from the ground, is that it calls for the skills of doing so to be acquired – just like most things with horses.
     
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    08-24-2012, 07:31 AM
  #2
Showing
Excellent.
     
    08-24-2012, 08:12 AM
  #3
Banned
Barry,

I don't thinnk anyone objected to the method presented in the other thread, per se, but with the evangelical zeal and smugness with which it was presented, and the implication that doing otherwise was wrongheaded and dangerous.

Almost all training methods have SOME value or some limited application, most good and well rounded horsepeople have a lot of different tools in their toolkits, rather than one method that they adhere to religously.

I am out of time this AM, but will post my thoughts and experience on groundwork's place in a training regimen later.
     
    08-24-2012, 08:37 AM
  #4
Yearling
Aye, I think decent, experienced and well-rounded horsepeople can assess a horse and will do as much or as little groundwork as suits them or they feel the individual horse requires. With my own horse, I'd rather be on her back should she freak out (luckily, she rarely does) than on the ground, as I feel that have far more control when I'm on her.

The novices or those lacking in confidence should probably not be leading or riding a nervous horse in traffic anyway.

Sort of an amusing (to me) tangent...years ago, one of the instructors at the barn I boarded at acquired a 17hh or so warmblood. The horse was in his mid-teens and had been shown up to Intermediaire I with a Young Rider before doing in a suspensory and consequently, his dressage career. So needless to say, the horse was schooled to the nines. He was donated to our barn to be a therapy horse in the equine therapy program, as he could not be ridden at more than a walk or maybe an easy trot due to his injury. But he was a lovely, gentle, well-mannered chap. The instructor in question had never worked much with warmbloods, just small Quarter Horses and Arabs. So whenever she was working with this horse, even leading him from one place to another, she and her assistant walked on each side of him, each with a leadrope, and I think at least one had a stud chain. When asked why they always worked with him like this, she said, "Oh, he's a really big horse." Horse was as much of a gentleman as you'd find; he wasn't spooky, aggressive, bolshy, or anything. There was just 17hh of him. Go figure.
     
    08-24-2012, 09:01 AM
  #5
Trained
If I bought a strange horse that I know nothing about, I'd probably do something similar. However, if I've seen the horse ridden by others or am buying it from someone I know, then I would not. Probably the biggest difference between when I bought a horse on a whim 4 years ago & now is that I would want to see the horse ridden outside of a round pen or small arena. If the seller refused to ride the horse or would only ride it in a 30' pen, I'd know to go elsewhere...or assume the horse had not been broken to ride. That wouldn't stop me, but I'd add in my expected costs for training into my analysis of the horse's value.
     
    08-24-2012, 10:23 AM
  #6
Showing
Quote:
Originally Posted by maura    
I don't think anyone objected to the method presented in the other thread, per se, but with the evangelical zeal and smugness with which it was presented, and the implication that doing otherwise was wrongheaded and dangerous.
This, exactly.

There are many roads to Rome, and just because someone doesn't take YOUR particular road doesn't make them any less of a real horse person, nor does it make them stupid, neglectful, or abusive.

If someone thinks only their method is The Way The Truth and The Light, then they're the stupid, pigheaded one.

Any good horse person knows that what may work for one particular horse may not work for another, and will adjust their training accordingly.

As long as what you want to do isn't harming the animal, it's your business how you train. Just don't try to tell me I'm wrong because I don't think I need to bore my horse to death before actually getting in the saddle.
     
    08-24-2012, 06:35 PM
  #7
Foal
Quote:
Originally Posted by Speed Racer    
This, exactly.

There are many roads to Rome, and just because someone doesn't take YOUR particular road doesn't make them any less of a real horse person, nor does it make them stupid, neglectful, or abusive.

If someone thinks only their method is The Way The Truth and The Light, then they're the stupid, pigheaded one.

Any good horse person knows that what may work for one particular horse may not work for another, and will adjust their training accordingly.

As long as what you want to do isn't harming the animal, it's your business how you train. Just don't try to tell me I'm wrong because I don't think I need to bore my horse to death before actually getting in the saddle.
I quite agree here. We all have a training and indeed a riding method that is somewhat unique..

The bottom of most of my posts if you care to read have often stated that this is MY WAY of encouraging MY HORSES to become safe, reliable mounts..

Again, I am not trying to say, any way is better than another... as I have stated earlier if you again care to read SPEED RACER..... I came onto this site for another reason and started reading of the page after page of problems folks have with their horses.....

As you will see if you also read... many problems stem from either inexperienced people and.. (we all have to start somewhere.....) riders who are nervous... and again some perhaps are nervous because like me and you, have experienced "human unaided flight", and it hurts at times..

With almost 40 years riding and working horses its not unusual to learn a thing or two and in doing so was suggesting on the side of caution with horses, folks don't know about... such as buying from Auction..


But then SPEED RACER you would'nt need to take in any advice with all your post suggesting you and your horses are well trained with your QUICK method..(smilies)

Time to slide back behind my little old tree here and await to reply..(smilies)
     
    08-24-2012, 06:40 PM
  #8
Foal
Quote:
Originally Posted by thesilverspear    
Aye, I think decent, experienced and well-rounded horsepeople can assess a horse and will do as much or as little groundwork as suits them or they feel the individual horse requires. With my own horse, I'd rather be on her back should she freak out (luckily, she rarely does) than on the ground, as I feel that have far more control when I'm on her.

The novices or those lacking in confidence should probably not be leading or riding a nervous horse in traffic anyway.

Sort of an amusing (to me) tangent...years ago, one of the instructors at the barn I boarded at acquired a 17hh or so warmblood. The horse was in his mid-teens and had been shown up to Intermediaire I with a Young Rider before doing in a suspensory and consequently, his dressage career. So needless to say, the horse was schooled to the nines. He was donated to our barn to be a therapy horse in the equine therapy program, as he could not be ridden at more than a walk or maybe an easy trot due to his injury. But he was a lovely, gentle, well-mannered chap. The instructor in question had never worked much with warmbloods, just small Quarter Horses and Arabs. So whenever she was working with this horse, even leading him from one place to another, she and her assistant walked on each side of him, each with a leadrope, and I think at least one had a stud chain. When asked why they always worked with him like this, she said, "Oh, he's a really big horse." Horse was as much of a gentleman as you'd find; he wasn't spooky, aggressive, bolshy, or anything. There was just 17hh of him. Go figure.
Thank you.. just love it..(smilies)
     
    08-24-2012, 06:50 PM
  #9
Yearling
I should start a thread... Things My Horse Doesn't Spook At (even though I didn't do a years' worth of groundwork).

Today, I heard a car behind me -- fair enough, as I was riding on the road -- and I glanced over my shoulder, to see a lad spread-eagled on his stomach atop a Ford Fiesta going at about 35mph. The fella on the top of the car said something like, "Oh, there's a horse." As it whizzed past me, the lad crawled back into the car through a window, James Bond style, as it cruised along and around a curve, still at 35mph. Yeah. My horse pricked her ears and looked at them, as if to say, "What the hell...." I had the same thought.
FaydesMom likes this.
     
    08-24-2012, 08:51 PM
  #10
Foal
Quote:
Originally Posted by thesilverspear    
I should start a thread... Things My Horse Doesn't Spook At (even though I didn't do a years' worth of groundwork).

Today, I heard a car behind me -- fair enough, as I was riding on the road -- and I glanced over my shoulder, to see a lad spread-eagled on his stomach atop a Ford Fiesta going at about 35mph. The fella on the top of the car said something like, "Oh, there's a horse." As it whizzed past me, the lad crawled back into the car through a window, James Bond style, as it cruised along and around a curve, still at 35mph. Yeah. My horse pricked her ears and looked at them, as if to say, "What the hell...." I had the same thought.
No.. your "horse" thought.... I could do that.... and yep.. I could climb back inside that car window while it travelling along...... and canterbury,,,,,, I...(the horse speaking still here ) could do it with my rider still on my back so there...."P"

Hehehe... Tony is a bugger..!
     

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