We all know ground work is one of the key elements to building a bond and total trust with your horse or pony, but it is one of those things that we either love or hate. Plus for many of us either us or our horses have to be in the mood for it, then we have to have the ideas of what we will do, so often riding is easier as it takes less brainpower beforehand and less stuff to set up sometimes.
The last few times we have shared groundwork ideas they have proved super popular so I thought I would share a few more to inspire you for over the next couple of months.
Plus not all groundwork has to be done by adults, with the right instruction and supervision many of these can be done by children to build their bond with their ponies too.
1.Cross a bridge – Exactly as it says you just need to build a bridge, this can be from wood (although make sure its strong enough to hold you and your horse), it could be a tarpaulin, stones, bark chips, matting. Anything that is unfamiliar. This is great for trust building. However the key is to allow time and not rush. You need to allow your horse to explore, to take their confidence from you, your actions and your ques. If you can also add in a vocal aid you can then translate this confidence giving vocal aid into your riding to give confidence in those scary situations. As we all have those.
2. Go for a walk. Yes take them somewhere different in hand. Spend time allowing them to graze, sniff and see new things, to have new experiences. This is not only a good relaxation technique for you and your horse to just be together, it also creates that bond without any pressure. You can use this time to introduce them to new objects or situations. While grazing and relaxed, having a positive experience means what they are being introduced to will be more positive.
3. Water for play – find any water and just allow your horse to see what it does, try it, play in it. It could be a stream, lake, paddling pool, hose pipe. Whatever you have access to. Often they love for you to play in it to and make this into a shared experience. Water fights between my kids, horses and a hose pipe are a firm favourite here as much as it sounds crazy they all love it.
4. Worming or sedating practise – We have all been there trying to get that syringe into our horses mouth, angle it the right way, push the plunger……and our horse throws it all over us! Now is a good time to practise this. Fill an old (clean) syringe with something yummy (ours love homemade apple sauce) and show them it isn’t really so bad, or try putting it in the middle of a carrot or apple to get them used to opening their mouths .Then work on reducing whats around it or in it and adding in a vocal command until you can put the syringe in easily without any aids. Always make sure you reward their efforts.
5 Learn your horses normal vital signs – their pulse, temperature, breathing, etc and teach them that it is OK to have this checked. Often this is only checked when there is something wrong and our horses then associate it with them being hurt or unwell. Making this into a normal fun thing to do, again rewarding their efforts will make life so much easier if they do get hurt or become unwell.
6. Teach them a trick just for fun – Our horses are meant to be fun, otherwise why do we have them. There are so many tricks you can teach them all with varying difficulty, get on YouTube and find something to try out. One of ours, Tom pulls funny faces on command! A totally useless trick but very funny when the kids have friends round. We have also recently started learning about liberty and how we can use that alongside natural horsemanship, so I will keep you updated on that.
I would love to hear some of your top groundwork tips too so head to our instagram page and drop me a message, I cannot wait to hear from you.