Rhythm is genuinely one of those things that can seem so simple on the surface. And, don’t get me wrong, rhythm is a fairly simple concept. However, when we begin applying it to horses and riding, it is truly eye-opening just how deep we can go with the idea. A little like groundwork for horses…
And, because rhythm is something we can approach from different perspectives and filters, the possibilities are pretty endless. So when we combine rhythm and groundwork for horses, we can really begin to develop and train. Both ourselves, and our horses.
When working with your horse using groundwork, you can actually begin to both ‘see and feel’ how important rhythm is.
Syncing Your Body with Your Horse
I am a firm believer in modeling or demonstrating things for your horse. To do this, we must first become aware of our body and how we are using it to communicate with our horses. Become aware of your actions, breathing, rhythm, and energy in general. Once you are aware of your own physical presence, you can begin to ‘sync’ this with your horse.
Try to coordinate your legs and footsteps with your horse’s hind legs and hind feet. Similarly, your shoulders with your horse’s shoulders. This is both for movement and, often, placement as well.
Start in the walk. As you walk, move your feet in sync with your horse’s hind feet. Once you are both ‘in sync’, you can begin experimenting with how you can influence this part of your horse. The rhythm and the length of stride.
You can also begin to influence how the weight is carried by applying the half halt while on the ground, next to your horse.
Half Halt and Rhythm
Rhythm, in and of itself, is generally pretty easy to establish. Finding a repeating sequence of footfalls is not too difficult. However, very often the quality of the initially easily discovered rhythm can leave a lot of room for improvement. And this is where, as riders (whether in the saddle or on the ground) we must work on improving our abilities to ‘balance’ things a little more.
Improving your skills as a rider means that you improve your coordination, your feel, and your understanding so that you can have a greater positive influence over your horse.
A half halt is a key tool when you’re working on this. Being able to walk beside your horse and effectively ask for the half halt is a skill that takes time to refine. Doing this in a way that your horse understands is also pretty important! So, it makes sense that you understand your aids, and how to time them correctly. I have a full episode on this topic “Your Half Halt on the Ground with Your Horse” that goes deeper into this topic.
When you can use a combination of your aids, including your weight aids, at the right time to ask your horse to half halt while beside him/her on the ground, you can begin to ask bigger questions
Groundwork for Horses
Once you can begin to identify what is moving concerning our horse’s legs and bodies, and we understand how it is moving… We can place more focus on our influence over the movement. And the options are limitless for how to develop this further. I am a firm believer that most of what we can do in the saddle, can be worked on while on the ground, whether this is true groundwork or lunging.
And just like riding, groundwork takes dedication, consistency, time, and focus. It requires both you and your horse to learn new things and is a great opportunity to grow your partnership together.
From working in the stable while grooming and tacking up, to working in the arena, groundwork for horses is as versatile as it gets from a training perspective. In fact, I am pretty sure that if there is something you are struggling with in your riding, by finding a way to work on it, directly or indirectly, through groundwork, you can improve or transform it in your riding.
I have created a full 4-week self-study program for you to use to really begin achieving results in your riding – and all while on the ground. There are audio horse riding lessons for you to use each day to develop your horse and improve your skills as a rider. And all are created with the intention to improve your riding as well. All of the details are HERE
More on Groundwork for Horses
- 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
- Why Enforcing Your Boundaries on the Ground Will Improve Your Riding
- Square Halt on the Ground
- Your Half Halt on the Ground with Your Horse