Need New Ground Work Ideas! - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 11 Old 08-10-2013, 07:29 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Vermont
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Need New Ground Work Ideas!

I recently (three months ago) bought a super sweet and willing gelding who was abused pretty badly by men and is now fearful of them, whips, and the saddle.

We have been spending countless hours on ground work to build up our relationship, and his trust in me. He now picks all four feet up by voice command and from one side, ground ties, long lines, and does most of the seven games by Parelli (we are still working on desensitizing him to the whip, he will allow you to direct him or play with him with the end of the lead rope).

I am just looking for new ideas as to how to gain his confidence in me on the ground - for example new exercises, things you do with your horse on the ground, exercises you know about from other trainers. Things of that nature! He learns rather quickly, and while repetition is great for training, he is getting pretty bored! Thank you!
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post #2 of 11 Old 08-10-2013, 08:30 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Vermont
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I am *not* strictly Parelli or Anderson or what have you, honestly I don't follow any trainer 100%, I take bits and pieces of what I like from everywhere. So please don't get the wrong message that I only want Parelli advice just because I mentioned that we do employ some of their techniques! Thanks again!
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Be dominant, not violent. Be assertive, not aggressive. Take in all the information you can get your hands on, but only give out what works, what is true, and/or what is genuinely useful - and only when asked.
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post #3 of 11 Old 08-10-2013, 01:03 PM
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I have a rescue horse who was also abused. I did similar things like you. I feel what really helped her, especially since she is an arab and already on high alert all of the time, was tons and tons of desensitizing. Whether doing it with objects or trails and other locations, she learned that I was the leader and one in charge. If a deer jumps out, her instinct would be to haul back to the barn. By encouraging her to continue forward, she either a) doesn't listen to you and still acts on instinct or b) learns to trust you and take that next step forward on the trail. Eventually, she will not even have the first choice in her mind being to run back to the barn. She will listen and trust you enough to know you won't do anything to put her in harm. This is especially good, because horses feel comfort in herds. Since it is you and the horse alone, he will have to find that comfort in you. Horses needs that guidance, but you can't force it upon them. They need to see for themselves how much they need to turn to you. It sounds like your horse is really starting to come around to you. He has definitely been opening his trust to you with the whole whip too. Very good work!

One other suggestion I have is try setting up trail courses (bridge, gate, 'L', etc). That is fun for the horse, yet they really have to think about what you're asking of him and what he has to do.
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post #4 of 11 Old 08-10-2013, 01:29 PM
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I love using obstacles to change things up. I don't know your situation if you board or not so it may be impractical to have to many obstacles, but if you can put up small things it breaks boredom and builds your relationship. You can put down ground poles, and raise alternating ends, put up little jumps, tarps are great to walk over and flap around them, send her through a ditch, make a little bridge out of a pallet and plywood to cross, get a mattress to walk across. I have 3/4 of an acre set up with obstacles all over, we never get bored. There are lots of ideas on line if you google obstacle ideas for horses.
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post #5 of 11 Old 08-10-2013, 07:51 PM
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google horse agility obstacles for ideas. You just adapt what you have.
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post #6 of 11 Old 08-11-2013, 06:31 AM Thread Starter
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Location: Vermont
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Has anyone ever made their own obstacles? I'm seeing the tractor tire pedestal, bridges, pool noodle curtain, etc. but wondering how to go about making the last two and more?

Be dominant, not violent. Be assertive, not aggressive. Take in all the information you can get your hands on, but only give out what works, what is true, and/or what is genuinely useful - and only when asked.
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post #7 of 11 Old 08-11-2013, 10:59 AM
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There are several different possibilities for the noodles. One is to make a frame out of PVC that slips over a metal fence post, and attach the noodles with zip ties to the frame. They typically do not hold up well in windy areas, like outside. Another possibility is to use 1/2 noodles and attach them to jump standards so that the horse goes between them. You gradually move the standards together so that they eventually touch the horse.

I have also seen "car washes" (which is what we call the overheard noodles) made from tarps cut in strips or indoor outdoor carpet strips mounted between 2 trees.....we have one on our trails.

OP-I agree with doing all different obstacles, including balloons that touch the horse ( work up to that), bridge, as has been mentioned, but if you build one that is an arc, it also serves as a teeter tauter. I would also be trying to hang things off the horse (tarps, gallons, raincoats), make him drag stuff (kids sleds, logs, bags of cans)......get him used to things touching him. I have a feeling that will be difficult for him, and may take you some time. I also use hula hoops to practice moving one foot in a certain direction.

THe tires that you step on are great, and the latest I have seen is actually several in a row, ranging from small to large, all filled, that sort of form a bridge you walk across. It is an interesting challenge.

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post #8 of 11 Old 08-11-2013, 12:06 PM
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Pat Parelli's groundwork games are very good tools to go by. That is pretty much all I do with Pat and his games work nicely.

I also follow Buck Brannaman. he is amazing with horse's.
But make sure to do those games often.
Also, just take a walk with him. This helps to get the horse to be alert and to trust you as well.
As you walk, randomly, at different times, pick up or slow down speed. Then randomly pick up or slow down speed to where you were or higher or lower than you were before. Then randomly stop at times as well.

So I will be walking along with my horse, then I will stop. The horse should also stop with me.
I continue walking, but very slowly. So should the horse.
I quickly pick up speed and start jogging, the horse should also keep up with you.

Every time you speed up or slow down, the horse should always have slack in the rope and should respect you and your space as well as be alert and focused on you.

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post #9 of 11 Old 08-12-2013, 09:31 PM
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post #10 of 11 Old 08-17-2013, 07:49 AM
Join Date: Jan 2011
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Something I've discovered, at least with my own horses, is that the more they seek my leadership, the importance of desensitizing to obstacles diminishes.
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abused , exercises , ground work , horse training , natural horsemanship

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