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  • Writer's pictureLouise Stobbs

How does groundwork translate to ridden work?

Groundwork can be about so much more than fixing behavioural issues and getting horses to run patterns. It makes so much sense to me to teach a horse something from the ground first so they already have some idea of what you’re asking once you get on.

Want to teach your horse to move away from the leg? Teach him from the ground and shape it into a cue you can use on board while you introduce the leg to the equation, or even better have someone on the ground to help you train them. Much more pleasant for both of you than thumping away at their side until they guess the right answer. We often see people getting really frustrated at the horse “ignoring” the leg when in actual fact we haven’t taught the horse what we want the leg to mean.

I use groundwork with every horse to help them with emotional regulation. Isn’t it better to have them work through things calmly on the ground, set them up to succeed before we get on, rather than jump straight on and “ride them through it”? I will always choose the path that causes the least stress. Stress is the enemy of learning, think about the associations you are creating.

If we’re trying to improve our horse’s strength and way of going doesn’t it make sense for them to be able to do it without the interference of carrying a rider first? If your horse can’t trot round in balance by himself there is no way he is going to be able to do it with a rider on board. Self carriage does not require a rider, if anything we’re a hindrance 😅

There is so much more available to us than just lunging circles in a fixed contact and hoping for the best, using groundwork to develop your horse is a skill but it doesn’t have to feel so complicated, anyone can learn to work their horse in a helpful way that will support their development and it will improve your riding too. 🐴

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