Groundwork is key to communicating with your horse. cont

You need to be able to ask your horse to move forward, backward, left, and right with all of his four feet. When ever you get a chance put a halter and long lead rein on and go play with moving the horse around, remember to take it slowly and break the behaviors down into different stages. Do not ask for too much too soon, and remember that the safety of yourself and the horse must come first at all times. Do not put yourself in the horses kick zone when working until you have gained plenty of hours of experience with it on the ground. If you are unsure of where or how to start, then simply put your horse on a halter and go for a walk together. Ensure that your lead rein is without tension and that you are not holding your horse too close to his halter; you want a nice loop hanging in the rein when you are walking. Work on stopping and moving off again, walking over trotting poles, asking your horse to simply stand still. And as the horse and you start building confidence start turning left and right and asking the horse to take a step back after you have stopped. It is important to aim at leading your horse with your body language and not be dragging him along on the lead. Similarly you should not be being dragged around by your horse!

You will soon start seeing the benefits of working through these few simple exercises with your horse. One important point to mention here is that lunging your horse round and round in mindless circles in a lunge ring doesn’t count as an exercise for this work. Teaching your horse to move around you in circles without a ring does. So go out and get “talking” with your horse on the ground, I promise you will do less “debating” when in the saddle.

Doing groundwork also has the benefit of adding variety to your horses training schedule, which in turn increases motivation and interest. It can be done anywhere and anytime you get a chance. Enjoy playing with your horse as well as get a better method of communication going between you.