How are your horse’s ground manners? I hear so many stories about people getting bitten, stepped on, kicked, or frustrated about trailer loading. The truth is, many of these accidents are avoidable with simple groundwork exercises! The key is to practice and control every step your horse takes – before you have a “problem”.
Spending a little time every day teaching your horse to respond on the ground will establish a relationship of trust and harmony. It keeps you and your horse happy. And, believe it or not, groundwork encourages your horse to listen to your aids when you ride, setting you up for success.
In this week’s video, I will be going over five ways to test and assess your horse’s ground manners. There is also a free Ground Manners Worksheet you can download and print out to help you score your horse’s ground manners. Get and print out the worksheet here and take it with you the next time you go to the barn!
Here’s a sneak peek at the five exercises to test your horse’s ground manners that I will be going over in the video:
1. The Poll Release: This simple poll release is an important test of relaxation, submission, and trust. It teaches your horse to give to pressure. In order to safely and efficiently halter and bridle your horse, they must lower their head.
2. Stop! Do they stop when you stop? When you stop moving, your horse should instantly stop to avoid running on top of you and getting in your space! Your horse must follow your body language and respect you. It is important that your horse respects your space so that when they get scared they move around you instead of on top of you.
3. Can you get your horse out of your space? Getting your horse to back up out of your space is a clear sign that your horse trusts and listens to you. For safety, your horse must stay out of your space bubble so they don’t accidentally bump into you!
4. Move sideways: Will your horse move over when you’re tacking up? This test is important because as you’re tacking up, you need to access both sides of your horse for grooming and saddling. Your horse should respectfully move over and allow you to access each side. This also starts to teach your horse the lateral leg aids.
5. Feet: Will your horse pick up their feet? Picking up the feet, requires that your horse is trusting you and focused because they’re giving up their ability to move away quickly. Often when horses are tense, distracted, or not paying attention to their handler, picking up the feet can be nearly impossible!
Watch the video where I demonstrate each exercise and score my horse’s ground manners. Make sure that you print out the Ground Manners Worksheet so you can assess, score, and improve your horse’s ground manners too!
I hope these tips help you and your horse develop a better more trusting relationship! Be sure to download and fill out the PDF and let me know how the test goes with your horse in the comments below!