I do not love groundwork. I pretty much never lunge my horses unless I think they are lame. I think I have resistance about it for a few reasons:
- When I was in my late-teens my barn family was taken over by the Parelli
culttraining methods. Blue had recently been diagnosed with navicular and I was repeatedly told that it was my fault because I jumped him, rode him a lot, and didn’t do groundwork with him. I tried to join in on the groundwork party (because I couldn’t ride then anyway with my lame horse) but honestly Blue hated it so much and we did not have any fun. I don’t hate all Parelli people (some of friends IRL do Parelli stuff) but the attitude that began to exist towards people who actually rode at my barn was not cool at all, I should have beat those motherfuckers with their carrot sticks.
- I boarded Apollo for a year at a barn that was very natural horsemanship-focused, the coach kept me on the ground for all my lessons. She pretty much convinced me that I was so lousy at groundwork (true story) than I shouldn’t be riding (um no). Eventually I had to sit her down and tell her that every time I need to ride to build my confidence about riding (which was at an all-time low). She finally let me ride and told me that I was much better in the saddle than on the ground… k.
- If I don’t ride I start to convince myself that I can’t ride. Any stretch of time off from riding more than three days and I will get nervous about it. Making sure than I get my butt in the saddle (or bareback horse as it were) is very important to me, more important than groundwork.
I did do a fair bit of groundwork/desensitization stuff work with Mystic and Henry when they were small bbs. So I don’t totally suck at groundwork.
See? And look at that adorable bb Mystic (She's like 1.5 here)
But lately my back has been bugging me a lot. And there are some issues with my horses that could use some work. The last time I loaded Mystic into a trailer we had words. Henry can be pushy on the ground. I also want to teach Henry to carry the flags at the barn and would prefer to start that from the ground. I’ve also always wanted to try some “cowboy challenge” type events with my horses (once I have saddles and wheels). I think devoting some time to groundwork would be a huge benefit for all of us as I try to get my back sorted again.
Bareback trail horse because my back hurt too much to lift the western saddle
So please share with me… what are you favorite ground exercises to do with your horses?
So far my greatest hits are free lunging/join up stuff, schooling turn on the haunches/forehand, and walking over tarps. I’ve been searching youtube to add a few things to my repertoire but would love any suggestions from blogland. J