Introduction to Groundwork

Hey Folks,

Have you heard about ground work? What is it and why do we do it?

I believe ground work is very important for all aspects of working with horses. You are able to gain the horses trust and respect through perfecting different exercises from the ground. Maybe we should call these exercises “games” instead. Working with horses is suppose to be fun right?!.  Well, in order to gain the horses trust, you have to prove to the horse that you are worthy of his trust by being calm, fair, and providing steady leadership while also listening to what your horse is trying to tell you. There’s a fine line between when to apply “trusting” type of games and when to apply “respecting” type of games.

So where do we start in gaining a horses trust and respect? Lets start by figuring out the horses personality in a herd, by himself in a pen, and lastly with a human present (but without physical contact).

1. Within the Herd:

  • What ranking is the horse within the group?
  • Is he playful?
  • Is he interested in his surroundings?
  • Is he the first to spook at a something?
  • When he spooks, will he stop shortly after or does he just leave?
  • What does his body language say?
  • How does the herd interact with him and how does he interact with the herd?

2. By himself:

  • Does he stand around or just mosey around?
  • Does he start habits such as cribbing?
  • Does he become mischievous or more playful?

3.  With people:

  • Is he curious or timid around people?
  • Does he walk right up to any person or just one person in particular?
  • Does he crowd space?
  • Is he mouthy with people?
  • Does he ignore people and do his own thing?
  • Is the horse aggressive towards people?

Determining how the horse behaves in these different environments will help determine how we go about ground work with this horse.

With each horse we have to teach them how to give to pressure. For some horses we have to overcome the fear they may have and others we have to work through their resistance. Going slow and taking your time will gain more progress than pushing a horse too hard, especially in the beginning.

Stay tuned as we get started with the “Ground Work From the Beginning” booklet. We will cover how-to’s, trouble shoot problems, and give you new idea’s for playing with your horse.


Kate with OCHS

Joe trusting and following his leader.

Joe trusting and following his leader.


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