groundwork seduction

More truth telling….

People who train and ride, fall into two broad camps when it comes to their attitude about groundwork training. The first camp, probably the majority of riders, do very little to none. They want to ride and don’t understand why they might want to teach their horse how to behave around humans.

By “how to behave” I am writing about exposing a horse to all the human things we need them to do that a horse in the wild would not need: bathing, clipping, loading onto a trailer, lifting feet for farrier, moving back from the person who has a bucket of feed, standing tied without pulling back etc… These are just some of the basic essentials that all riding horses should know, but people are not willing to spend any time teaching.

The classic result of this lack of groundwork is the horse who refuses to stand still when being mounted from a block, and walks off before the rider is even settled in the saddle.

This is one reason why trainers like John Lyons, Monty Roberts, Clinton Anderson, Carolyn Resnick, Klaus Hempfling, Bill Dorrance, and Linda Tellington-Jones, have built an empire of books, dvds and clinics based on how to teach your horse to behave. I won’t go into all their different training modalities but suffice to say, the majority of their work results in a horse who is safe to work with on the ground. 

The second camp approaching groundwork is the overachievers. They take the work of the Big Name Trainers to the extreme and see their work as validation as to why they should do groundwork ad nauseum (and these horses are generally bored out of their friggin’ minds btw). With Parelli’s system you wouldn’t ride your horse for 3-4 years! Don’t believe me? Then you obviously have not discussed or read his system very thoroughly – I have.

My classic example is the Parelli disciple who was so into the games, she couldn’t ride her horse at a walk during a Centered Riding clinic – and was instead dumped off! Or lets talk about my former student, LB, who was another Parelli Disciple. Her Green Broke QH (who was actually put under saddle by her farrier, not her), is still Green Broke 5 years later and the horse is over 10 years old….

The same goes for Carolyn Resnick – let’s play games with the horses to “bond” but riding is not really covered. You don’t think so? Then please, send me a photo or video of Carolyn riding a GREEN horse – would love to see it! At her age, she should have plenty of students she can cite that she took from GREEN to winning competitions consistently…. **crickets**

Oh but I forget! The classic excuse is that “Big Name Trainer cares about the relationship, not winning ribbons!” ROFLMAO! Have you ever considered that there may be a more clear reason why this is so? Their method doesn’t train a horse to that level of riding with having a judge evaluate it in/out of a in/formal contest?

The second reason why the Big Name Trainers put such a focus on groundwork is that you have to be a real rookie and greenhorn around horses to get hurt doing groundwork with your average, well behaved, easy-going horse. They probably feel safer handing out advice about how to sack out a horse then telling a rider (who they have not seen ride, or know any of their history) to go out on a trail and take the horse belly deep across a stream.

Groundwork is easier then riding. Fact. And that is why people will spend far too much time with it when they could be riding. It’s not surprising that a lot of people drawn to Parelli and Resnick are riders who feel intimidated by the act of riding.

I lean way too much towards too much groundwork and that is why it is well past the point that Z go under saddle and get some rider-in-the-saddle work done. She is quite capable of the feat and age-wise, brain-wise ready for more challenge.

Molly riding Z, Summer 2011

Not to do so is to endanger her future because while I may plan on her staying with me, I can’t guarantee that for her lifespan – I might die, my husband might die, we may lose all of our money, my kid might get cancer, etc… To not give her a proper education is paramount to being an irresponsible horse owner.

I have lived in a state that had 22 percent UNEMPLOYMENT at one time (when the oil fields went bust in the mid 1980’s) many horses, even those well-trained, went to the Meat Man. But the first horses to go were the pasture kept, hobby horses, and the broodmares with no training. Don’t delude yourself that an untrained horse of 12 has a ghost of a chance in hell of finding a good home in an economy like that one was – or even in today’s economy.

Right now I see many many horses being sold on Craigslist for NOTHING… because of the drought. And winter has not even hit yet. There will be many horses heading down south for that trip to the Mexico Meat Market. Not to understand this is seriously deluding yourself to the reality of horse management and ownership.

The threat is real – and the best safeguard you can give your horse is a sound education, both on the ground AND in the saddle.

This entry was posted in Essays, Snake Oil, Training and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to groundwork seduction

  1. Pingback: Z: Week Three Consistency and Cantering « Horse Ideology

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