When we establish clear communication and trust with our horses, the time we spend together is much more fun. No one wants to get kicked, stepped on, bitten, or run over. Don’t fret through! Doing simple groundwork exercises can help solve these problems, and prevent bigger problems from developing (like trouble trailer loading and meltdowns in new environments). Groundwork will even improve your horse’s response in the saddle!
One great groundwork exercise to help improve your horse’s responses on the ground and in the saddle is practicing leading your horse. This may seem like such a simple exercise – we lead our horses every day after all, and it’s not that hard! However, when we lead our horses, we want to work on leading them with feel. As soon as you catch your horse, pay attention: Are they focused on you? Or are they looking off into the distance? Do they immediately pull you to the grassy patch outside their paddock?
Before I dive into this exercise, I wanted to quickly remind you that my new course, Groundwork Essentials, is open for enrollment this week only! Inside this new course, you will learn how to see the world through your horse’s eyes so that you can effectively communicate with your horse, manage their reactions and energy, develop their confidence, and more! Build confidence, trust, and communication with your horse in any situation so that you can stay safe and enjoy the time you spend together. If you enjoy this video from today, you’ll love Groundwork Essentials. Check out the course here.
When you lead your horse, you want them to be paying attention to you the entire time. Here are some tips for leading your horse:
- Lead your horse forward. When I want my horse to walk forward with me, I first lean my body forward, then lead my hand with the rope forward, and begin walking forward. If your horse doesn’t follow you, then you can tap them with the tail of your lead rope where you would give your leg aid.
- Stop your horse. Once you’re walking forward, stop your horse by stopping your feet and raising your outside hand. Send energy down the rope if your horse doesn’t stop with you.
- Your horse should mirror you. When you bring your hand forward and take a step, your horse should follow you. When you stop, they should stop too. If you step backward, they should back up with you. Try some walk-halt-rein back transitions, paying attention to how responsive your horse is. Your goal is that your horse mirrors you and follows your body language!
Practicing leading and getting your horse responsive to light aids on the ground will help you stay safe and have a good time with your horse. When you get you lead your horse from their stall to the cross ties this week, try practicing your walk-halt-rein back transitions. This may seem like a simple exercise, but I think you will be amazed at the difference you see in your horse when you practice this groundwork exercise!
I hope these tips help you and your horse! Check out the video where I demonstrate all this with Luigi, and talk more about how you can use groundwork to help improve your relationship with your horse.
P.S. Want more help with your horse’s ground manners? My new course, Groundwork Essentials is now open for enrollment! Even if you’ve never done groundwork before, this course can help you! Join us inside the course to learn how you can strengthen your relationship with your horse by understanding their behavior and learning how to manage their stress, reactions, and energy in any situation. Open for this week only! Learn more about the course here.