Much of what we do with our horses comes down to groundwork. Groundwork exercises are a very useful tool to understand each other better. Moreover, of course it makes for a nice change in your horse’s work! Here we give you 10 tips on how to approach your groundwork training.
- Change it up. By not always structuring your training in exactly the same way or doing the same thing every time, you can add variety. Try to prevent any training or exercise from becoming boring or predictable for your horse (and yourself). This ensures that the horse stays focused on you and continues to be motivated in responding to your cues.
- Think outside the box! Use different materials to make the exercises more fun and challenging for you and your horse. Take, for example, an umbrella or flag that you have lying around at home. Or fabricate something with old materials that you already had at home.
- Make a plan in advance of what you hope to achieve. Making a plan in advance can be very helpful in keeping the goal you are working towards clear in your mind. Break your big end goal down into small aims so that you can train towards the desired behaviour one small step at the time.
- Pay attention to the volume of your cues. Every horse will require a different intensity with which you should give your cues, but always try to keep them as small as possible. This sometimes takes a bit of trial and error at the beginning of your training. Look for the point when the horse begins to respond, and then try to make your cues smaller each time.
- Always be safe. Always start your training by checking whether your environment is safe. Do you want more tips on how to properly prepare for your training? Click here …
- Non-verbal communication. Always try to be aware of your non-verbal (body) language when communicating with your horse. Paint a clear mental picture of what you are asking from your horse in your head, and try to find the best cues that fit this exercise.
- Make it as easy as possible for your horse to give the correct answer to your questions. As a result, the horse will be quicker to understand the exercise and you can gradually increase the difficulty of the exercise.
- Look for changes in the environment. Did the exercise work all the time, but suddenly doesn’t work anymore? Changes in the environment can have an effect. Maybe another horse has just left or is just entering the arena? Of course you shouldn’t go out of your way to avoid these, but it is always good to realize that changes in the environment can affect your training.
- Always try to end your training on a positive note. It is very important to ensure that you finish each session on a positive note. Do you want to end the session but have you not really achieved the result you would like yet, or do you notice that your horse is getting tired? Then take a step back to something your horse has already mastered. Ending on a positive experience will help you in your next training.
- Try something else. If something fails several times, try not to get frustrated. Instead, try to look at what cues you are giving and try something else. Sometimes the horse doesn’t understand what you mean and you have to be creative in presenting the question differently.
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