Have you ever considered all the different ways you communicate with your horse, every day? All of the aids you have at your disposal to ask your horse to do things the way you want him to do things. Imagine if you could become a little more mindful about what you are doing and how you are doing it…
When you are with your horse, there are so many different aids you can use, such as:-
- Body Language
- Artificial aids
Each time you begin working on a new aid, it has to learn how to blend with all of the aids you have been previously using. You have to learn how to blend it, and your horse has to learn how to understand it.
Learning Takes Time
So many riders expect to be able to begin using a new aid or applying an older aid in a different way and for it to just ‘work’. They become discouraged when they meet the enviable resistance, both from the horse and their own other aids, towards this ‘new aid’.
As you develop as a rider, you must be open to learning new things and new ways of doing things. Different horses will require different approaches. Understanding that there is a Balance of Aids and it is your job to try and keep it actually alive and well in your riding is key.
I am going to suggest that, in order to really see how this balance plays out, begin playing with your new (or different application) of aids while on the ground with your horse.
So many riders see groundwork as being ‘with’ your horse. Yes, you can use groundwork as a way to build your relationship with your horse, particularly natural horsemanship. However, I would love for you to begin playing with groundwork in a way that will encourage more conversation in your riding as well.
Using what you are doing on the ground, while beside your horse, to really enhance the conversation you then have in the saddle, while riding your horse.
Becoming mindful regarding what you are saying and how you are saying it when on the ground has the potential to literally change everything in your riding. Remember, this is something you do every single time you get in and out of the saddle. It is also something you do on the days your not even riding your horse.
Start with Bringing Your Horse for a Walk
Think about when you are leading your horse, there is a mutual agreement in place. You are walking and expecting your horse to walk with you. Hopefully, you’re not having to pull or drag your horse along and your horse is also not pulling or dragging you along! It cuts both ways.
Just having that simple unwritten agreement in place is a foundation you can build on in your riding. If this is not the case, I strongly suggest you give THIS EPISODE a listen and start there.
But assuming that you and your horse are happy to walk with each other, why not begin playing and experimenting with your aids there? Soft, gentle and subtle changes in your aids can make a huge difference in your overall conversation with your horse.
Turning your shoulders slightly can either invite your horse to ‘walk on’ a little more, especially if he is not feeling very confident. And, similarly, a twist of your shoulders the opposite direction can have a ‘whoa’ effect on your horse’s walk and energy as well.
Pay attention to Your Position and Language
Your eyes and where you are looking can have a huge influence over your horse’s way of going. The same with your core. If you apply a little ‘half-halt’ to your core, in the walk on the ground beside your horse, begin looking at how your horse notices and responds.
You can only begin refining your aids when you truly commit to becoming mindful about your aids themselves
Look at how your horse responds and then play with how you can influence that response by approaching the conversation a little differently. Try a different aid. Or change the balance of the aids you are applying. Play and experiment and then commit to being consistent enough that your horse can actually begin taking part in this new, more refined conversation.
Your horse is literally waiting to have a conversation with you; let groundwork be the place where you can really begin taking that conversation to the next level.
Groundwork for Riding
I would love to help you to take this to the next level with your horse. I have a program ‘Groundwork for Riding’ which will give you exact exercises you can begin applying today with your horse.
The exercises are for use before or after your usual riding, so that you can really begin complementing what you are working on in the saddle with what you are doing before you get into the saddle.
If you are looking for fun ways to engage your horse, without having to spend more hours in the saddle, this program will do just that for you.
Happy ‘working with your horse from the ground’
Other Episodes, Posts, and Resources on This Topic
- Groundwork for Riding – Successfully Take the Conversation from the Ground into the Saddle
- Groundwork; The Bookends in Your Riding
- 4 Ways to Work with Your Horse When Time is Short
- Groundwork – Pressure & Release
- The Daily Strides Podcast
- The Free Group filled with other like-minded riders
- 2020 Equestrian Fitness Challenge