January 5, 2012

Thinking about Ground Work

Rose's vacation seems to be agreeing with her. She was in a delightfully sweet mood yesterday. Also, her feet...

Her feet look amazing!

She's nearly grown a full hoof since we moved from Oregon (you can clearly see the event line on all of her feet). The new hoof is much harder, straighter, smoother, shinier, and the sole is beautifully concave with happy frogs and nice heels. Bonus, all the snow keeps them extremely clean and the sole polished. I rarely find anything in them that I can pick out. I am certainly loving winter in snow country for hoof care. Although the summer brings dry ground and no mud, her feet are never this clean in the summer. I'll try and remember to get photos of them next time.

Back to Work
We had no issues with the people door, which left us plenty of time for other groundwork activities. The day's roster included a good longe, playing chase the tiger, and working on standing and "squaring up". Afterward, back in the barn, I decided to tackle her rather out of control mane. She was still quite wiggly in the cross ties. By wiggly, what I mean is that she will stand with her bum against one wall of the cross ties, and then swing it all the way to the other wall (see the photo below). This is exceptionally annoying, and something she started doing in November. So I worked on her a bit with "whoa" and "stand" every time she'd swing her butt from side to side. Anytime she swung her butt in my direction she got a good smack with my jumping bat that I had tucked under my arm. Swinging her butt at me is simply unacceptable in my book. That made pulling her mane take a lot longer than usual. Unfortunately, I only got about half way done before I had to leave for the day. I plan on tackling the rest on my next visit.

Rose standing wonky in the cross ties

For now I'm trying to get back to basics and see where we have ground work "holes" that can be worked on for the next few months. So, I'm trying to think back to the winter of '09-'10, and see what we never got around to mastering before her under saddle work started. We certainly can work on standing quiet in the cross ties, tying, and teaching her to stand in the trailer divider. Unfortunately to work on trailering I need an extra hand. I certainly don't want to distract Hubs from finishing my tack trunk, so the trailer work will have to wait! Anyone have any suggestions of fun or valuable ground work projects?

Happy trails and swooshing tails!


  1. I'm a lurker on your blog. I don't think I've ever posted but if you don't mind...I would like to offer a different thought for getting her to stand still tied....

    Tying your horse isn't necessarily about having them stand still. We've all seen horses who stand tied for YEARS then one day something spooks them, they hit the rope, freak out, sit down, and are now very difficult to tie.

    Tying is about teaching your horse to stay within the parameters you set. Its no different than riding and expecting them to stay within your aides. No bugling, dropping shoulders, hollow back, etc.

    When I get a new horse I do the same thing with all of them when it comes to tying...age doesn't matter. They are tied on one leadrope with about 2-3' of slack to a wall. Then I stand back and move them back and forth. I use the lead rope and twirl it so they step ALL the way to the right....they will hit the rope...walk towards their hip and push them all the way to the left. I repeat this until they are softly moving back and forth and their steps aren't jerky and nervous. Suddenly your horse understands there are places they CAN move. I will do this each time I tie them until I deem them trustworthy.

    Now that they know they CAN move and where they can move its time to teach them to stand still. Typically if they did dance/move around when they were tied before they don't after they know where they can move. If they do seem antsy or feel like they need to move I repeat the exercise with a little more umph...little more energy/life. They know their part now so you can ask them to do it a little quicker.

    Rose is a smart mare and will catch on fast. Once she understands the limits you will need to repeat it in the crossties so she understands the same rules apply and she knows her limits.

    Tying is all about staying in the limits that you set.

    I know it seems backwards to teach a horse to move while tied in order to get them to NOT move while tied but I've yet to see it not work.

    Good Luck!

    As for groundwork projects...you can teach her to sidepass, all your lateral work, ground driving is VERY good especially on trails, you can teach her to "let you on" when you stand on something. She will slide up to you and offer her back/shoulder for you to mount. :)

  2. how is the clipping going? have you done her bridle patch?

  3. Yay I'm glad her feet are doing so well!

    You got lots of suggestions on ground work. I like to just go for hand walks with Chrome. And working on flexion and stretches are fun. Lowering head and backing in a relaxed frame. I would have to go back and read what you worked on last year to know if you've done these things. I'm just mentioning things I'm working on with Chrome. You could teach her cute tricks like smile too. I love Chrome's smile. :D

  4. Laura: Clipping has been a non-issue since summer of 2010. She quietly lets me clip everything now.



Related Posts with Thumbnails