Horse as Teacher
Horse as Teacher
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Wintertime Groundwork Review (Part 1 of 3)

The beauty of groundwork is that you can use it to fine-tune the relationship between you and your horse at any time, especially if the weather is foul or you don’t have time for a full riding session. These basic groundwork exercises set the stage for work under saddle and allow you to introduce new concepts to your horse in a safe environment. Be sure to do all of them from both sides. As you do these exercises, it is important to introduce variety into your work and avoid dwelling on exercises your horse has mastered. It is equally important to break difficult exercises into smaller steps that your horse can more easily handle.

You can spend an entire session just on groundwork or eventually incorporate these exercises into your daily routine with your horse. Many top trainers do groundwork as they lead a horse in from the pasture, as they tack up, or as they walk from the barn to the arena. After a while, groundwork can become second nature to you and your horse—like a graceful language that you both speak without words—and the benefits are immense and amazing. Before you decide that groundwork is either tedious or boring, give it a try. You’ll be quickly surprised by the positive results. The exercises covered in this Basic Groundwork section include:

  • Leading
  • Longeing
  • Rolling the Hind
  • Bringing the Front End Around
  • Backing
  • Backing in Circles
  • Transitions

My thanks to Buck Brannaman—many of these exercises are adapted from and based on those described in hisGroundwork book. Please refer to his book for excellent pictures of many of these exercises.

About the author

Madalyn Ward, DVM, owns Bear Creek Veterinary Clinic in Austin, Texas. She is certified in Veterinary Homeopathy and Equine Osteopathy. Memberships include American Veterinary Medical Association, American Association of Equine Practitioners, American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association, Texas Veterinay Medical Association and the Academy of Veterinary Homeopathy. She has authored several books and publishes the monthly newsletter, “Holistic Horsekeeping.”

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