You may have heard about the movie ‘how to train your dragon’ but let’s move a little off the track. Today, let’s learn about the ways you can train your horse. One of the most popular ways of training your horse is groundwork exercises.

What Are The Groundwork Exercises?

Groundwork exercises consist of exercises you do with your horse. Generally, you have to take the lead and guide the horse using a rope like equipment. Groundwork is extremely crucial to horse training. There are many different groundwork exercises and they are divided into five major groups.

Lead Exercises

The name conveys the definition. So basically you have to lead your horse from point A to B using a halter and a rope.

  1. Leading from the lead position: Clearly, you are showing your horse who the boss really is. You clearly define your leadership level and your personal space. The horse learns to respect you and your personal space. You choose the path and speed.
  2. Leading from partner position: you walk along with the horse, shoulder to shoulder. The horse learns to stay close to you. This position gives you the power to lead and drive the horse simultaneously. You must advance to this exercise once you have mastered the lead position. Your horse must learn to switch between both positions when required.

Touch Exercises

Here we form a personal bond with the horse. We touch the horse, stroke it and make it feel loved. When we do this the horse, it understands and grasps the concept of trust and acceptance.

  1. Stroking: stroke its whole body. Give attention to its sensitive parts like the groin, nipples, stomach, sheath, ears, mouth, eyes and tail. If you feel uneasy stroking your horse over its private parts you can use a cloth, whip, stick or a bag. The horse will eventually learn to trust the objects you use on it.
  2. Grooming: scratch and rub the pleasure spots of your horse. Usually around the withers and the mane. Many horses also enjoy being rubbed around the tail, shoulders, and loins too. Grooming represents friendship, the horse will enjoy it and so will you enjoy the bonding time. You may also try massaging its tense muscles, only once it trusts you completely to avoid being kicked hard.

Direct Pressure

These include soft physical pressure, generally done to give direction to the horse. You must remember that the pressure applied to the animal’s body must be firm but soft enough not to hurt the animal. The horse submits to the pressure and moves its body accordingly.

  1. Head down: pressure behind the ears.
  2. Nose to flank: pressure on the side of the head.
  3. One step backward: pressure on the nose.
  4. One step forward: pressure behind the ears
  5. A step back: pressure on the chest
  6. Step to the side forehand: pressure on the shoulder

There are many more pressure directions given to a horse. You could look it up on google.

Circle Work

You ask your horse to move in circles. Through appropriate body language, you instruct it to start the circle, slow down, speed, stop or change direction. You must train the horse more than just a couple of times.

Circle work is an amazing method for both parties to understand each other’s body language. You can identify if your horse is tense or nervous or calm just through its body language.

Groundwork exercises are great for both the horse and you. So remember to go step by step, the entire purpose of groundwork is to train your horse properly not hastily.