15 Minute Groundwork Exercises That Work
 By Kaori   •   1st Aug 2013   •   18,095 views   •   2 comments
15 Minute Groundwork Exercises That WorkOne of my many pet peeves are people who constantly complain about their horses having bad manners, but doing nothing about it. Any horse can learn basic manners if the owner is willing to put time, effort and commitment into a bit of groundwork. Good manners can make everyday chores such as grooming, tacking up and leading so much easier, and it improves the communication between you and your horse, therefore strengthening your bond. It can take as a little as two 15 minute sessions a week, plus it's fun and engaging for both horse and rider. These are just a few of the many groundwork exercises to try with your horse.

Free Schooling
Free schooling could best be described as lunging without a lunge line. The idea is that a horse will walk, trot, canter and change direction around an enclosed area, listening only to your voice commands. It can be a real test of obedience and trust, and requires the handler to pay close attention to the horse, so they can prevent the horse misbehaving before it actually happens. If you have a bargy horse who likes to get into your space, free schooling will teach it that you are to be respected, and your space is not his to share. Some horses may require you to hold a schooling or lunging whip to reinforce the fact that you are in charge.

Using a rope to apply pressure
A horses natural instinct is to resist pressure, so this exercise requires trust and obedience from the horse. It also puts you in a much more dominant position, and is a great exercise for young horse who are about to be backed for the first time. For this, you can use either a long rope or a lunge line. Lunge lines can be a bit fiddly, with makes the rope a more popular option.

Start by clipping the rope to the head collar/halter and placing it along their bodies, around their bum and then back to you. While standing by the horses head, gently apply pressure to the end of the rope that you're holding. The horse should respond by bending their neck around and doing a full turn to unwrap the rope, which should result on him finishing in the same position that he started, except without the rope around him. You can also loop the rope under the fetlock and apply pressure. The horse should respond by lifting his leg.

This is typically done to familiarize horses with potentially scary objects, however it has an added bonus of reminding the horse that he can rely on you to be a good leader and that he can trust you. This will give him much more respect for you, which will prevent most of his bad manners.

There are many ways to desensitize you horse, as a horse can find almost anything scary. My personal favourites are plastic bags tied to schooling whips (as seen in the video), colourful beach balls, rugs or sheets being flapped around or left on the floor and sweeping brushes or balloons. Be creative and make the most of the random objects that you own, but never use. With these objects, you need to show your horse that they won't hurt them. Shake them around, touch the horse all over with them, put them on his back, free jump him over them, etc.

There are loads of other things to try, such as agility or free jumping. Both Monty Roberts and Parelli have developed great groundwork exercises to help connect with your horse, so why not give it a try?
Horse News More In This Category:  Horse Training      Horse News More From This Author:  Kaori
Thank you so much for this article! Ground work's always been a weakness of mine, I never really knew what to do.
  Aug 2, 2013  •  20,341 views
Thank you!Thank you!Thank you!Thank you! So much for this article!!!!!!!!!!!!!!I have to do groundwork with my new horse Izzy and thanks for all the tips and ideas!!
  Aug 11, 2013  •  20,057 views
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