Just last week, I noticed a rider literally dragging their horse from the stables towards the arena. The rider was about a meter in front of the horse’s head. Her face was red with effort! And her horse was literally going nowhere slowly. It occurred to me that so many riders make things really difficult for themselves by not having a few ground rules in place when it comes to their horse and their expectations.
And what better place to work on ground rules than on the ground? Beside your horse. Groundwork is an essential part of training your horse. It is where you can set expectations, create boundaries, explain ‘rules’, and develop partnerships.
Groundwork exercises also help you to refine your own skills as a rider. By simply having to figure out a slightly different way to ‘say’ something to your horse, you get to explore your own knowledge of the subject.
So, all of that being said, here are 3 groundwork exercises you can use this week when working with your horse…
Groundwork Exercise 1 – Backing Up
Going backward when asked is something that can benefit all horses and their riders! When you can ask your horse to reverse, it makes doing some of the daily activities so much easier when you ride. It also gives you more flexibility and options when it comes to moving your horse.
Backing up in a straight line will also work your horse physically and mentally. The key word is straight…
By working on improving this on the ground, and then later practicing while in the saddle, your horse will develop both sides of his body. By remaining straight, the symmetry will ensure equal development.
Groundwork Exercise 2 – Flexion
Flexion is one of those things that, as you and your horse begin to go deeper into training, will become very important. It is also something that you can begin encouraging while on the ground. And this will, again, have a positive impact when you are in the saddle.
Flexion is often the key to transforming the work you and your horse are doing together. When you begin paying attention to correct flexion, it leads to an increased softness…
It is also important to remember to work both sides with your horse. Again, that all-important symmetry that is necessary to develop, stretch, and work your horse equally. Focus on the flexion of the head and neck initially. Keep in mind that any ‘movement’ in the right direction should be rewarded :)
Groundwork Exercise 3 – Pressure & Release
Applying pressure is how we ask questions and communicate what we want to our horses. We can use so many different aids, singularly or in combination, to apply pressure. Even your voice can apply pressure. However, pressure in and of itself is not enough.
In order for our horse to understand what we want, we must let him know when he does the thing we want after we ask. This is the release. Apply pressure to ask the question. Release pressure to say ‘affirm’ the response.
There are lots of groundwork exercises you can do that focus on this topic. One of my personal favorites is turn on the forehand. And, in both asking and working through each turn on the forehand, your horse also gets to put some of the flexion work to good use.
A Step-by-Step Groundwork Exercise
If you are keen to find out how you can begin using the “Increasing Suppleness Through Flexion Groundwork Exercise” to develop and train your horse today. Get the free guided audio training to use before or after your ride, to really begin introducing and increasing your horse’s flexion. And you will also get a bonus audio horse riding lesson as well to use when in the saddle to ask put some of your work into practice while riding.
The”Increasing Suppleness Through Flexion Groundwork Exercise” to develop and train your horse is 100% free and you can get yours when you CLICK HERE
Additional Links on Groundwork
- Groundwork for Riding 4 Week Program
- Groundwork for Horses and Rhythm in Training
- 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