1. Proper preparation.
Preparing for groundwork exercises with your horse is an important step that should not be overlooked. Before you begin the exercises, it is important to make sure the horse is calm and relaxed. Spend some time grooming and brushing your horse to help them relax. This can also help build trust between you and your horse, which is essential for successful groundwork.
2. Establishing a connection.
Establishing a connection with your horse is key to successful groundwork. Spend time grooming and petting your horse, as well as talking to them in a soothing voice. Take breaks during the exercises if needed to give your horse time to process what you’re asking them to do.
3. Teaching the basics.
Once you have established a connection with your horse, it’s time to start teaching the basics of the groundwork. Start by teaching your horse how to lead correctly; this includes teaching them when and where you want them to stop and go, as well as how they should respond when asked to move forward or backward.
4. Practicing safety.
Safety is an important part of the groundwork and should always be the priority. Make sure you are aware of your horse’s body language and reactions to ensure you are not putting them in a dangerous situation. Consider attaching a lunge line for added control over your horse during exercises, especially when introducing new commands or obstacles.
5. Working on transitions.
Transitions between commands are an important part of the groundwork, as it helps your horse move from one task to the next with ease and confidence. Start by teaching your horse simple transitions, such as going from a walk to a trot or turning around in circles. As they become more comfortable and confident with these movements, gradually increase the complexity.
Longeing is an important part of the groundwork, as it allows you to work on your horse’s movement and obedience skills without having to be in direct contact with them. Start by teaching basic longeing commands such as walk, trot, canter, turn right and turn left. As your horse becomes more comfortable with this exercise, gradually increase the distance between you and your horse.
7. Ground driving/lunging.
Ground driving or lunging is a great way to help teach your horse how to respond when asked to move forward and backward from a distance. This exercise also helps build trust between you and your horse, which is essential for successful groundwork. Start by teaching your horse basic commands such as walk, trot and stop, then gradually increase the complexity of the exercises.
8. Introduce obstacles.
Introducing obstacles to the groundwork is a great way to challenge your horse and refine their obedience skills. Common obstacles include poles, jumps, mazes, and other tactile objects that can help teach your horse how to move around them safely and confidently.
9. Review & reinforcement.
Regularly reviewing and reinforcing what you have taught your horse during groundwork helps keep them motivated to learn new skills. Reward them with treats or verbal praise when they successfully complete an exercise or transition between commands.
10. Vary the exercises.
It’s important to vary your groundwork exercises to keep your horse engaged and motivated. Introduce new commands, obstacles, or transitions regularly to ensure your horse is learning something new each time they practice. This will help them build confidence in their abilities and develop a stronger bond with you.