Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: South of No-where
I use groundwork to start all my young horses but my older horses don't get as much. Once in a while to get their focus back on me or work on a specific issue that has come up, but for the most part my older ones are jump on and go.
My ground work includes: Yielding forequarters and hinds which eventually leads into things like a sidepass on the ground, backing up, standing patiently, lunging, "sending", go through and over obstacles, leading properly (no hanging back or trying to charge forward or invade space), ground driving, pulling things behind them, desensitizing to scary objects, and even walking the woods and down the road in-hand for the young ones to get them used to different things. I'm sure I'm missing things here, but this should give you an idea.
As to who does more ground work - professional vs. backyard owner - I really don't think anyone can make a general comment on that. It really depends on the theory of training/horsemanship that the person subscribes to. I believe (and I may even be wrong on this) that it is safer to say a trainer who is a NH trainer is going to do a whole lot more ground work than say a classical dressage trainer - just for an example.
One thing to keep in mind with trainers though - they don't magically have their horse's respect. It may seem like it to the casual observer, but they have to earn it just like everyone else. But they have enough experience communicating with a horse and knowing what the horse needs that they can do it faster than the average horse owner. Think of it like two people going to a different country that speaks a different language. One is fluent (the trainer) and the other has taken several classes and has a good understanding but is not yet fluent (backyard owner). Both will be able to communicate on their trip, but who will be able to do it faster and more effectively? The fluent one of course. Same concept - only we are dealing with horse body language. But that is why they are professionals and why we pay them, is it not?
All I pay my psychiatrist is cost of feed and hay, and he'll listen to me any day!