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Ground Work

Ground Work is a very important thing to teach any horse. There are many reasons that one would use it with their horse or donkey. There are a variety of ways to do it. So many that it takes years to learn them all, but here's my version of it.
The best way to explain this version is with the Who/What/When/Where/Why explanation.

Who uses ground work?
Any horse owner looking to establish who is the boss with their horse. Ground work is important enough that even the top horse people use it before riding or shows. Also, people breaking their horses will start with ground work.

What is ground work?
Ground work is a series of "games" you do with your horse. Like: backing your horse, stretching their neck, walking, trotting in a circle around you, lunging, pivots, putting the head down (Pictured below), and any other thing you might do with your horse on the ground to establish who the boss is. Ground work is meant to prepare the horse for what ever you will be doing to lower chances of spooking.
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When do you use ground work?
Ground work is done before riding the horse, the horse may or may not be saddled. This is very important in new surroundings to tell them that there is no reason to behave differently. It is also used to bring the horse's full attention to you not the distractions. By working with them before riding they become LESS likely to buck because they know who the boss is. However it doesn't mean that they won't buck, I know from experience.

Where do you use ground work?
Ground work can and should be used anywhere, I recommend teaching it at home and them using it before riding at a new place. Doing that brings the attention away from the distractions that might be around. Horses get easily distracted at shows, and can get out of control very easily however doing ground work immediately after arriving can help the horse calm down and make a less worry show.

Why use ground work?
Ground work is very important to establish who the boss is. It can also be used when trying to teach a young horse. It prepares horses for a variety of things. Ground work can be a good reminder to ignore to other things happing for the horse that they may not be used to. When you haven't gotten to ride in a while ground work can be a good way to stop your horse from developing new habits. Also ground work is a good way to teach the horse new things such as trail, english, ect. It is used in Showmanship classes too, so ground work is a good way to prepare the horse.


If you are having trouble doing ground work in a normal or leather halter you might want to try a rope halter, the knots tend to help. Also a longer lead rope works better, you can use a lung line or even like some you can use reigns if you thing your horse behaves well.

I hope people find this helpful and important to use. If you have any questions feel free to ask.
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Excellent article!
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