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Groundwork continues building on “liberty Training” and so it is the second element in Horsefulness Training. Groundwork is the collective term for all exercises which involve the horse being lead and guided by a halter (or neckrope)and a rope. To extend your body you can potentially use a whip or a trainingstick. During groundwork exercises you continue to work on mutual trust, respect and clear communication through which contact with your horse will not only become safer, but also more fun and easy. Groundwork with horses horsemanship

During both liberty work and groundwork the most important communication is your own attitude! Can you stay calm and deal with your horse without judgment? Do you work with the right intentions?

If so your horse will like to be with you and your bond will become stronger. The exercises, during which you are always aware of this positive intention, are amongst others: lead exercises, bodywork, yielding for physical and driving pressure, circling, etc. working up to exercises with obstacles, the neckrope, …

Groundwork teaches the horse to deal with the “human world”

So during groundwork we also start “training” the horse. This means: we start teaching him things that aren’t so natural anymore, for example yielding to physical pressure. The horse needs to understands this concept because in the human world their will be al lot of unnatural physical pressure, for example pressure behind the ears when tied up to the wall, going forward on a legcue in riding, stepping backwards of a trailer, …

groundwork yielding for pressureGroundwork helps the horse to better deal with life in the “human world”. Think of trailerloading, hooftrimming,  traffic, treatments by the vet , etc.

In all of these acts the horse has to know how to cope with it and except it.


Above all groundwork will contribute to an even better communication, because now you can also ask your horse things it wouldn’t naturally understand.

It is enjoyable to watch the penny drop for a horse and see it think: “Ooooh, now I get it!” And from that moment on your horse just understands what you ask of him.

Do horses like to be trained?

Yes, my experience is that horses do really like “training” and learning new, unnatural things, IF you convey it in an honest, respectful and understandable way!

I just compare this to learning the alphabet when you’re 6. If no one teaches this to you you can be really happy and not lack anything, but if you do have to be able to read this will make your life in our society a lot easier… Horses are forced to live in a “human world”, no matter how naturally you want to house them and take care of them, so some exercises we teach them during groundwork are a little bit like learning the alphabet when you’re 6.

groundwork with obstacles

Other reasons to do groundwork!

  • you prepare your horse for Gymnasticizing Groundwork: work in hand and lunging.  That will go a lot smoother when the horse enjoys spending time with you and trusts you, sees you as its partner and a natural leading figure and yields to physical aids and driving aids.
  • you prepare a young horse for riding
  • you help fearful or traumatised horses overcome their fears
  • you help inconfident horses gain more self-confidence
  • you develop yourself to be the best trainer possible!
  • In the wild horses have a lot to think of and a lot to do in comparison with a domestic life.  By doing groundwork you challenge your horse physically and mentally and that is really necessary for domestic horses.  Thus by doing groundwork you keep your horse healthy in every way!
  • And very important: It’s fun to do for both!
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One thought on “Groundwork

By Kas on 22 October 2014

I really enjoyed your book. I thought it was very true, and I am definitely going to use those tips. Thanks for writing it.

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