something that is done at an early stage and that makes later work or progress possible
Ground work can be art work in itself.
For most of us, ground work is a path to getting to know our horses better, without riding. There are unlimited types of ground work, starting from simple lunging to work without the rider to the "high school" movements of the classical variety.
I used significant ground work techniques when my horses were too young to ride. From just getting them used to being handled, to developing communication, to in-hand work to introduce them to the bit, to ground driving, to trailering practice, to "round penning", to walking over tarps and de-spooking - I did it all. Then before their first ride, I used lunging to get the horses moving well without a rider in the first place. We worked on developing gaits, conditioning and voice cues before I ever leaned over my horses' backs for the first time.
But that's not all I use ground work for. I've had people ask me to ride their horses for them even though they hadn't ridden in months . Though I knew the horse had been ridden in the past, I used ground work to "meet" the horse and see what he knew and how he was going to respond.
I love ground work for the excited or nervous horse. I am always cognizant of my surroundings and try to maintain a high level of safety for both myself and the horse. So if there is a horse that seems out of sorts, I go right back to ground work to settle him while allowing him to move
And finally, I have used ground work to develop myself as a rider. You can do so many things on your own two feet that replicate what you need to do on horseback, but you still have balance standing on the ground. In particular. I've explored and developed my hands and quality and feel of contact while working with the horse on the ground.
Ground work is not only for beginner horses or riders. In fact, many of the "masters" use increasingly intricate ground work exercises to develop their horses mentally and physically throughout their education. Learning the higher level movements takes time and experience and the guidance of a good instructor. Just as with anything else, becoming effective at ground work takes dedication and repetition.
What have you used ground work for? How does it complement your riding life? Comment below.
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