"Fun" With Groundwork

Getting some serious side-eye from EuroPony
Since my footing is still a total hard, nasty mess, I don't have time to ship over to my trainer's this week, and we have no snow cover to speak of, riding is still out at the moment.

Groundwork it is, then.

Dino actually gets a kick out of groundwork because it's different from what we normally do, so while I'd rather be riding, it's actually kind of entertaining to mess with him from the ground. Plus it sometimes involves snacks, so he's all about that.

I started off with some basic walk/halt/jog maneuvers, making sure Dino was focusing on my cues and stopping and starting when I was. I had to tap his shoulder with a dressage whip a couple times to reinforce the go button, and then wave the whip in front of his nose to engage the stop button, but after a few reminders he was foot-perfect.

Then we added in the Reverse gear, and he actually did REALLY well with this. Backing up - under saddle or from the ground - is always tough for Dino, and he usually puts up a little resistance. Between his dominant personality and his somewhat weak stifles, going backwards is not his favorite.  But yesterday he was really into his work, and I only had to remind him a couple times by tapping the whip on his front legs. After the reminder, he backed up nicely just from me stepping towards him. Good pony!

After going in reverse came the hard stuff: lateral work. Dino is pretty much a champ at turn on the forehand in-hand, so I started with that. Then came turn on the haunches. This is a lot trickier, since sitting and turning on his butt is hard, so Dino tries to walk forward or backward out of the movement. But yesterday was our day with the in-hand work, and the pony gave me some great cross-over with his front legs and minimal walking-away!

Lastly I introduced a leg yield along the wall in-hand. This was confusing. And hard. But D had his concentrating ears on, and he tried his best, and ended up 'getting it' in both directions. It was so cool to see his ears go sideways, thinking hard, and then the licking and chewing that happened when he did a movement correctly and I released him. Watching horses think is one of the best parts of training!


  1. this is awesome - glad he did so well with it!! i really really need to do more focused practice with this stuff... so hard to motivate tho!

    1. I find that the only time of year I'm motivated to do in-hand work is during the winter when I can't ride!

  2. Must be the season. I too did some ground work last week, turn on the forehand, easy, turn on the haunches.... was attempted. But didn't end well.


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