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Groundwork and Leading – The First Things to Teach Your Horse

March 21, 2024

Leading your horse on the ground can present challenges in some situations especially where safety becomes a concern. 

In this article, we will share with you the teachings of US horsemanship expert Dana Glass from his videos in the Ridely app. We will walk you through the basics of groundwork, to help you build principles of trust and understanding to improve leading your horse in different environments.

Be aware of the space between you and your horse

The most important takeaway from this session is that you need to make sure there is space between you and your horse. If you hold the lead rope very tight and close to the horse’s halter, the minute that he sees danger or takes a look at something by moving his head up, he will hit the pressure on the lead rope. Dana says that it is important to allow him to be a horse and to be able to look at things. 

By having a big space between you and your horse, your horse gets to take a look and make his own judgments rather than relying on you. This is a key part of groundwork: letting your horse make his own decisions while still finding you for guidance, instead of relying on you. 

Keep your horse’s feet moving

Another fundamental part of groundwork is to be able to keep your horse’s feet moving when you need to with small movements. Dana is able to ask his horse to move left by holding his hand out to the left without any pressure. It might take a lot of work to get to this point Dana shares some tips in the video.

Get in sync with your horse

If you have a good space between you, and are able to make your horse move, this should help you with leading. This is because your horse will respect your space while focusing on your movements for guidance. 

When you stop the horse should stop, when you walk forward the horse should walk just behind you keeping a good distance. When you ask your horse to move to the left they should move and so on. With this training, you should find leading your horse much easier and safer.

Some tips to keep in mind while creating space: 

  • Try to keep a rectangle of space between you and your horse
  • Don’t let your horse invade your space and come to pet you
  • Use the slack of the lead rope to create space if your horse intrudes it
  • Apply pressure to get the horse’s legs moving and then release as a reward
  • Be patient! Groundwork takes a lot of time and patience but it absolutely pays off

If you want to see all this in action and continue your groundwork journey towards better horsemanship, join Dana’s Training Program in the Ridely app. This is only from the first session out of four in total, which all focuses on the importance of good groundwork.

  • Train with 11+ Olympians from home.
  • Learn and make the most of your equestrian life.

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