Thursday 28 July 2011


There is a lot more to groundwork than just putting your horse on a lunge line and getting he or she to run round in circles, so I thought I would do a post with some interesting things you can do in hand with your horse.

First of all you will need an assortment of equipment for groundwork, but for the basics you will just need a cavesson, lunge line, whip, and a hat, you should wear gloves as well, you may also need brushing boots or bandages if your horse brush’s or over reaches.

To start with your horse must be happy with the whip and have no reason to fear it, if for some reason your horse does fear the whip you can try getting them used to it by placing the whip on the horse’s hindquarters and slowly bring the whip backwards and down the horse’s legs till you reach his or her fetlock, then bring the whip away and reward your horse, give them a moment and then repeat. If your horse should try to move when you are performing this let them, but keep the whip where it was when they started to move, when they stop continue to move the whip down to the fetlock, and then reward them. When your horse is happy to let you do this you can start to move the whip to his or her front and other areas till they are completely happy with the whip and have no fear of it. As you can see Madeline is more then happy around the whip and is playing with it as if it were a bit.

When working in hand you should use a piaffe whip, but if you do not have one a normal lunge whip will do, the whip shown in the photos is an ordinary lungeing whip. Groundwork is a great way to build up friendship with your horse and at the same time build up your horse’s fitness. To start your session of schooling you should perform a quick and easy exercise that anyone can do, halt your horse, pat them then take your horse’s head gently by either his or her rein’s should they be wearing a bridle, or if not use the lunge line, holding the left rein bend their head around gently to the left. Then when holding the right rein bend their head gently around to the right, if correctly performed this will help to soften the poll, mouth, and neck, if your horse has a bit check to see if he or her is chomping the bit and lowering their head, if not you can use a sugar cube to help encourage them to chomp the bit.

A horse can be taught to perform all lateral movements in hand, but of course it takes a lot of practice to do the more advanced ones so start simple with probably the easiest to perform, turn-on-the-forehand. During turn-on-the-forehand the horse should move their hindquarters in a big half-circle around his or her forehand, the forehand should pivot on a smaller circle. Now to perform this in hand ask your horse to halt, pat them, then point your whip at his or her hindquarters, keeping the whip pointed low to start, as you do this remember to hold the lunge line close to your horse’s nose, so as to allow you to control the horse’s forehand. Well that’s all for now good luck and have fun.

If you have found this post interesting why not consider buying the August edition of Horse & Rider it has a very interesting article on the Spanish Riding School and some of their in hand work, click the link to visit the Horse & Rider web site.


Sherri B. said...

You lost me at Whip...Yikes! I know, you have to do it to train, if I had a horse it would be so spoiled, I'm sure...They do look like they don't really mind it though.

Have fun with this.

allhorsestuff said...

Arg..comment eaten..

Hi you, I'm trying to catch up with my friends.
This is an excellent post. You are so right about groundwork and a connection to your horse. Everything you do on the ground translates into the saddle later. I love that you use a cavasson many people skip this and use something that is not as.balanced, twists or even digs into the horses sensitive poll and nose. The point of the line and the horse is steady, accepted contact. With other devices, this may hurt or become a huge distraction, negating the sessions Intension.

Love the shot of your mare, mouthing the whip as you described getting a horse calm with one- too funny!

Nice work Edward, and creative editing of yourself ..out of the frames.
Love your great header!

Edward said...

Thanks for the comments.

Sherri, oh don’t worry about the whip it isn’t use to hit the horse, if anyone ever tells you to hit a horse with a whip there is something wrong with them, it would really hurt and might even do damage, the whip is just used to ask the horse to perform movements and stuff like that. A crop is used to hit the horse, not hard I might add, if I use a crop I prefer to hit my boot rather than the horse it gets the point across and there is no need to cause the horse any discomfort, but I don’t use a crop much anyway.

Kac, who or what ate your comment? Thanks, glad you like the new header. I thought it best I edit myself out, I try to stay out of the photos as much as possible for now. Yes it is very true everything make a little difference which is why it’s so important to have a lot of patience with them.