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Groundwork ideas for building trust with new horse

This is a discussion on Groundwork ideas for building trust with new horse within the Natural Horsemanship forums, part of the Training Horses category

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    08-20-2013, 04:09 AM
I was just in another thread about Clinton Anderson. I really like all his stuff. He has some books that are pretty cheap which have exercises in them. I can't think of what book in particular at the moment.....hold on I'll just go look.....................Clinton Andersons Downunder Horsemanship Establishing Respect and Control for English and Western Riders. There are 11 groundwork exercises and five of the exercises have from four to two essentially it's 23 groundwork exercises. I found the book at a Barnes and Noble. There is also a website called the no worries club which is a membership site. It's a commitment for an entire year but it's only 20 bucks......there are a TON of videos on there where you could learn many exercises. There not as thoroughly explained as they are in his fundamentals kit, but you would still learn a LOT.

Some exercises you could do......

Backing - a really good exercise for a pushy horse. All exercises that are done will establish you as the leader, but for some reason this one is said to establish it the most.

Lateral flexion - Good for building the foundation of a very soft horse that doesn't pull on the bit. And this is the beginning stages of creating a horse that naturally wants to travel in a collected gait.

Yielding the hindquarters - making the horses but move away from you is always good. If you've ever watched horses....they will back up into one another with their butt to say, move it or else I'm going to kick you.

Desensitizing exercises - the idea is you want your horse to stand there falling asleep as you are making a ruckus around him. Plus this is a great way to teach your horse to not be afraid of you or any of your tools such as whips, sticks, ropes....whatever else you may use.

Sending your horse between you and an object such as a fence or the side of a building. The goal is to create a gap just small enough for the horse to fit through between you and the object and have your horse just calmly walk through the space......I'm mentioning this exercise because it's one that you can do with a wounded ankle because you won't need to move nearly at all........BUT if your horse isn't quite trusting you as his leader then you may want to hold off on making the gap really narrow or else he may kick out at you in fear.....or just hold off on the exercise all together until he's trusting you, and then start with a large gap and work on making in narrower.

Sidepassing - this would be good and wouldn't require a lot of effort on your part. You will still need to walk a little bit but you shouldn't be hustling around.

I'm just trying to mention a few exercises that you could do with a hurt ankle that won't put lots of stress on you. Though all of these exercises could use some very thorough explanations that could fill a book....and they have.
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    08-20-2013, 07:53 AM
Thank you so much for all of your suggestions everyone. Some of them are ideas that I'm really excited about! Once I'm able to go out and visit him, I'll definitely try a few and I'll let you all know how it goes. Some of the desensitizing is a good idea, especially since Andy is a TB and he definitely has his TB moments! I also think I'd really like to work on lateral flexion and yielding the hindquarters, as I'd like to teach him the one-rein stop. I have some soccer cones which I can use to make some obstacle courses out of. And I'll probably try to lunge him with side-reins at least twice a week, which hopefully will build up some muscle on his back, since he has practically none!
    08-20-2013, 12:23 PM
You've probably looked all this up already but I'll mention it in case you haven't yet.

On building topline.....backing is supposed to be very effective at building topline. The trick is to get your horse to back with his head down low, which only seems to happen once the horse has done lots of backing. But especially backing up a slight incline while the head is low is supposed to be the best way to do it.

Walking over raised poles is also a good one to build topline. If you're going to lunge him and you have poles, then set them up in a circle pattern.

Then there are tummy raises??? Not sure if that's the correct name, but you basically put your fingertips on the center line of the horses abdomen and push and the horse will pick up his back, hold for five to ten seconds and release. Do this all along the center line to get him to lift his back all the way from his psoas muscles to his withers. Build up to holding more than ten seconds. This exercise causes him to work his abdomen muscles. April Battles has some good stuff on youtube, I think it's under holistic horse works. There's also a point on the horses rump just to the side and slightly up of the base of the tail that you can push on that will get your horse to suck in his abdomen and lift his back. I like to start here and then move to the abdomen under the psoas muscles and work my way forward.

Oh there's also one other groundwork exercise I was thinking of....getting your horse to lower his head when he is near you. Make a C with your thumb and pointer or middle'll actually be a backwards C if you're using your right hand. And touch the horse just behind the poll with your fingers in the C shape. And release the touch the instant your horse lowers his head. You'll likely need to up the pressure, but always start with just a touch, and if he doesn't lower his head......then push.....then press harder......and finally if he's still just standing there or pushing back against you then DIG. But remember release the instant your horse lowers head. This is a good one for getting your horse more relaxed and helps build that foundation of getting your horse to carry himself in a collected gait which is good for building topline.
    08-23-2013, 06:37 PM
The horse I'm working with is a six year old quarter horse. I don't own him but I am allowed to train and use him for barrel racing (eventually). I've only known him for 5 months and in those five months i've handled him about 6 times.
Join up was fast...I'm not kidding. In his 2nd session we were joined up.
Lunging in the round pen (so far I worked with him for 5 sessions), disengaging the hind quarters, giving his head...this week it will be more desensitising with plastic bags.) this past session when the trainer/mentor was desensitising with a bag on a stick that horse moved and stood behind me watching this spooky thing fly about the place.
I can go out to the pasture and catch him so easily. Even had a guy that went out to catch him and Lil Boy (that's his name) walked off. I called to him and walked up to him and he didn't even move. He followed me over to an arena that's set up in the pasture area.
I made a video or two with me lunging him without any rope/halter, he goes in the direction I point to and stops with little effort from my part. He will follow me around the pen like no other. I purposely will stop him right where some grass is to see if he'll graze instead of come to me.
I'm a beginner trainer in training under the wing and guidance of a good old veteran cowboy who trains with natural horsemanship. He's always there to ensure I'm doing a good and consistent job. When it comes time to get him under saddle, my mentor will be getting in the saddle. No exceptions. He's years of rough and tumbles under his belt.
I believe that every owner of a horse is a trainer. I've never trained a horse till now. Reading books isn't enough for me, I'm a hands on type of person.
You're lucky to own a horse! I have to drive an hour away to get to this horse and I do it three times a week religiously!
    08-23-2013, 10:55 PM
I absolutely LOVE Clinton Anderson methods! And he's actually fun to watch! Good luck with your horse!
    08-25-2013, 05:15 AM
Originally Posted by shelbyhagler    
I absolutely LOVE Clinton Anderson methods! And he's actually fun to watch! Good luck with your horse!
I'm going to part two of his clinic tomorrow though a lot of the stuff he's teaching are stuff that I've been taught. Can't wait to see tomorrow's work though!
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    09-02-2013, 08:37 PM
I just had Andy's back checked by a chiropractor, and I'm very glad I did! Poor Andy was quite a sore boy! She spent a good hour working on him. It's my fault for chopping and changing saddles, having him in saddles too narrow, and stuffing pads beneath them to try and make them fit. We also checked the saddle he's in now, which fits him fine. I'll get his back checked again before I'm healed enough to get back on him, but his soreness would certainly explain his bucking!
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    09-02-2013, 09:34 PM
Dawn, google horse agility. Set up the course with whatever you have on hand. It helps fine tune the horse's responses.
    09-17-2013, 10:34 AM
I had quite a battle with Andy today ... I'm pretty sure I won though.

I haven't been able to work him as much lately - between the bad weather, my own lack of time, and the fact that I can't ride with my ankle being the way it is, he's been spending a lot of time in the paddock. I've been lunging him about twice a week, but the ground's very deep at the moment and there's horses grazing in the only good riding paddock, so I haven't been willing to work him too hard or do anything more than canter.

Today I got him ready to lunge. Put his saddle on, then I ran my hand over his withers and realized that with the girth done up tight, it presses him far too much in that area on either side of his withers. He was visibly concerned with the added bulk of my hand there, which leads me to think he's sore again. He's in a medium gullet English saddle but I think I'm going to need to go for a wide!

I put away the saddle and decided not to lunge him. We did some groundwork, he's getting very good at flexing his head when I ask him to! Then I thought I'd take him for a stroll around the paddocks, just to have something else to do I guess. I only had a little bit of time to spend with him.

When I took him out of his paddock, his head went up and he began to get excited. His stride got quick, he was blowing through his nostrils. He wasn't scared, just full of energy like a shaken up soda bottle and he was excited to be going somewhere. I'm not going to lie, I felt a little bit scared. We were in a narrow raceway between paddocks, and I didn't want to get into a fight with him in there.

After a few metres, I turned him to walk back to his paddock. He immediately began to barge and strike out with his forelegs (not at me, just like he was attempting a Spanish walk), angling his hindquarters in towards me and turning his head away from me. I was getting pretty scared, ok, because he was being unpredictable and I really thought he would kick me. We made it to the gate, I guided him through it, and turned to close it behind me, keeping a close eye on him the whole time. It was well that I did because he REARED, and he had the stubbornest look on his face, like "what's the holdup, hurry up, I want to go back now and you're slowing me down." That's when I realized that I couldn't take him back now. He was being one disrespectful ****e and I needed to deal with it right now.

I got my lunge whip and line and I sent him away. I was angry. The dominant kind of angry, that allows me to look a horse in the eye and do whatever it takes to get them to listen. Andy fought me. He turned his bum towards me and took off. I held on to the rope, leaning my weight back and yanking back with all my might. He was in a rope halter, and it probably saved my life. He yanked me forward, but with my weight and the added weight of my pulling, he couldn't drag me for more than a few strides. If it were a nylon halter, he would have been able to run right through the pressure, but he couldn't with the rope on his nose. I got his head around and tried again, and this time he went where I sent him, off around me at a canter with no boots on. Forget the mud; he was being a spoilt, dangerous horse and he needed a good lesson. Plus he had energy to burn. That was half the problem, he was a Thoroughbred, full of spring grass, and no outlet.

This played out again several times until he decided to be a good boy. I just want to add that his nose was ok, I'm not strong enough to break it! There were no rope burns on his face afterwards, either. My hands however are another story. Lesson learned, wear gloves! The nylon lunge rope tore my hands to shreds. :( I worked him until he got a sweat going, making him change directions often while on the go. After he stopped paying attention to the horse in the next paddock and began listening to me, I quit lunging. I wasn't satisfied though. I began backing him and making him yield his hindquarters round and round, both ways, until he would begin moving if I only looked at his hindquarters with purposeful intent.

I took him for a walk down the raceway again, back and forth, and he went as quiet as a lamb.

Sorry for the long post. Just thought I'd update you all with our progress! He's normally such a well-mannered guy, but I guess he's never really challenged me that way before. I'd say that most of the issue was his high spirits, but energized or no, it was unacceptable the way he was acting on the ground. I'll add pics next time, I promise!
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    09-17-2013, 12:19 PM
What are you feeding this horse? TBs are very responsive to the amount of supplemental feeding they get. These horses were bred to run and he needs liberal turnout to blow it off, not in a roundpen but a good size arena or pasture.

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