Friday, June 13, 2008

Love ground work!!!

What else could we do on a rarely beautiful Friday morning but drag our poor horses out of the pasture for a grueling session of ground work? I'm a big fan of this activity, though it is not popular at my boarding barn. It is "that natural horsemanship stuff" and regarded as inferior to riding the kinks out of any behavior problem. But I enjoy the game aspect and I think horses do too.

So this morning three of us barn friends got together and worked on all kinds of exercises: backing, sending, bending, side-passing down the wall, and even ground-tying:

We had a blast. One of my friends has a Halflinger:

And this cute horse is gifted in the hair department:

And there's also a totally cute Spotted Mountain Horse (related to Kentucky Mountain Horses of which my John is one):

This horse and Johnnie are partners in crime in the pasture.

We worked on the Dreaded Plastic Bag of Horse-Eating Pop Cans, and had some pretty good progress here:

The other horses including my pretty-in-pink TB had to come and see what was so fun in the arena:

And by the end of the hour our horses were so quiet and happy; we just have to do this more often and more consistently.


Pony Girl said...

Hello, I was blog surfing and found yours. Is that Haflinger's forlock and mane for real? WOW!
I really liked that you were doing groundwork. I so believe in it,e ven more so after attending a Parelli event in May. There are days where I do not feel like riding. And a lot of people can't ride horses, or there are horses that can't be ridden, so doing something interesting with them from the ground is a great addition to working and learning with them!
I want to teach my horse to ground tie. Any pointers?

Flying Lily said...

Yes that hair is real - can you believe that forelock??

Ground tying: Here's how we work on it. Get your horse in a quiet place with not too many distractions. Drape your lead rope over his neck and let go, and just quietly stand there beside him. He still has the "feel" of a rope in this stage 1. Then ask him to "STAND" & take a step away. Horse theoretically stands there. You step back and rub his neck or whatever your usual reward is, but no treats as they make the horse want to follow you. If he should move you gently put him back where you started and do over.

Then you move to dropping the lead rope on the ground in front of him (take away the feel of the rope on his body). Same thing; step away, stay a bit, come back. Put him back in the same spot if he moves away; this is important.

Gradually increase your distance from the horse, and keep reinforcing how grand he is for standing there as you move away and return.

Work on this a little every day and you will be surprised how quickly they get the idea, Oh, my rope is on the ground, better stand here.

I so agree about the fun aspect of ground work. If/when I am too old to ride I still could get a kick out of this type of equine interaction!

sue said...

Oh my goodness... my trainer is NUTS about ground work!!! if you "can't get it on the ground.. why do you think it will come up thru the saddle"!!! besides, I agree that the horses find the work different and interesting.... good for you.....don't you love those rope halters?? they're my fav......

Flying Lily said...

Sue, I envy you the trainer who likes this stuff. I am totally in agreement - if you can't do it on the ground, it ain't gonna happen under saddle. Basic obedience. Love the rope halters too!!