I wanted to take this time to write about the importance of ground work with your horse. With winter fast approaching many Equestrians don’t get to ride as often as they want and ground work is a way to help your horse mentally and physically. I know that some feel like ground work is a waste of time but in my opinion it is very important.
Why I believe in Ground Work
There was a time that I did not do as much ground work with my horses like I do now but after my riding accident I realized how important it is. In 2000 I attended a clinic and took a horse that I had owned for a very short period of time. My first thought was to take my Arabian gelding that was very well trained but then I decided against that as I wanted to take one that needed work so I choose this new gelding.
The clinic was going great I had ridden all morning and the gelding was doing very well then it happened. We were working on simple turning exercises using both hands on the reins. One of the other students horses bumped into my horse and it set him off into an explosive buck. The buck was so hard that it put me into a position where I was balancing using both reins and when the horse went up in the air he was buckling with his hind legs and I was pulling him with both reins. This went on for what seemed like forever. The clinician was hollering “one rein”, “one rein” but I did not hear that then I finally heard the clinician say “get off”. I knew something was really wrong for the clinician to say this. I remember everything like it was in slow motion I kicked my foot out of the stirrup and swung it up and over to jump off of the horse, finally I am on the ground. Well to make a long story short I tore my ACL in half and had to have reconstructive surgery and went through months of painful rehab. So now I do lots of ground work, no exceptions!
What it teaches
For me and anyone I teach we work on building a solid foundation on the ground as I truly believe it helps the horse and it also helps to keep you safe. I will not get on a new horse until they’ve gone through my ground work program and during the winter I use it for several of my horses. I’ve taught a lot of things from the ground such as stopping, turning on the forehand, disengaging the hind quarters, side passing, backing, lateral and vertical flexion, neck reining, cantering slowly and more. Doing all of this from the ground transfers to when you are riding and makes life so much easier and safer.
My students in the Horse Agility courses are so grateful that they went through my program as they found their horses to be more responsive and safer. They’ve also told me that it has made a difference in their riding as the horses are lighter, more responsive and have more confidence.