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Confidence Issues on the Ground: Part 2
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Confidence Issues on the Ground: Part 2

As we last discussed confidence issues can cause unrest between a horse and their owner wherever the original issue may stem from. I am hoping the last article may have given you a jump start with some ideas, possibly even helped you personally.

Groundwork

I am going to address it again - groundwork. I hope you have an open mind to this concept, unfortunately depending on the methods used it can be too harsh, or when used incorrectly can make it be a poor decision. Please remember to open your mind to the possibility that it could work for you if you seek other advice or look into a variety of trainers. Learn from as many people as possible!

Last time I discussed the fact that groundwork begins the moment you handle your horse, I truly stand by this. It even can begin on how your horse approaches or avoids you in his or her pasture, paddock, corral or stall.

If you have done what I previously advised and sought help, videoed yourself to see what you can do be doing better, and still have yet to have luck then let’s discuss some more options. Please remember to seek PROFESSIONAL help though and then follow up with consistency between you and your horse.

Another topic previously discussed was energy. It was a major topic to keep in mind, so here is your reminder. I tell people to build up their energy for asking for groundwork maneuvers by using the racing example. If I put a million dollars cash in the middle of the arena and told you all to race towards it, the energy built up during "on your mark, get set, go" would be what you need when doing groundwork and asking for the horse to yield. 

Groundwork Exercises

If your horse has issues with different groundwork techniques then visit something you are both good at and go back to practicing the harder ones later. Remember to end on the best note possible for you and your horse. Release them for the correct behavior and maneuver as often as possible! Rub on them all over to gain their trust in you, patting them is not as pleasant as rubbing and scratching.

If you are having issues with backing, try gaining control of their hindquarters better and with less movement; try just using your energy to really practice what you need. I tell people to walk down their horse’s neck to where the girth normally hits and take a large step away to give your horse plenty of room to complete the maneuver. From here I tell them to focus in on the horse’s hindquarters like you are going to bite it. If your horse crosses their inside leg over the farther then stop what you are doing! Release the pressure and let your horse turn and face you. Practice this on the same side and then visit the opposite one. If you can master that then you are getting there!

From here, I suggest getting your horse lunging really well! Plant your feet; they are in cinder blocks. NEVER, I repeat NEVER back away from your horse unless you absolutely have to for safety. If they move your feet then they are your boss; that is how horse hierarchy works. I teach people to lunge by telling them to stand squarely in front of their horse. From here, point the direction you want your horse to head. If they have not moved twirl the rope in your opposite hand towards the shoulder you are trying to send away from yourself. Let the horse make a large circle around you. Walk your hip with their inside shoulder while staying behind the driveline. The easiest way to stop your horse is to relax your body, turn, focus on their hindquarters and ask them to yield them to you. If you can learn to do this with your horse at a walk with slow, methodical movement then it will do wonders for you both! 

Remember to stay safe and out of striking and kicking range at all times. Seek help if you or your horse does not know how to do any of these exercises. Your goals are to do these things with as little drastic movement as possible and with just your energy and intention. 

I hope this genuinely helps, please keep in mind to feel free to contact me. There is a link at the bottom of this article where I can be reached.

Tips:

  1. If you are still having issues then save up and get help from a professional. Ask to video your lesson or training session so you have something to go back to refer to. This will help you if you then follow up and video yourself to see the discrepancies.
  2. Consistency is key with training your equine partner. Try to have some consecutive days to work with your horse or horses and remember to keep it simple. Horses view things as black and white; they need you to give them their boundaries, clear directions and releases so they see you as leader.
  3. Revisit what your horse does well and then go to something more challenging. This will help both you and your horse build in confidence and trust together. If you keep practicing and thinking of it as re-building a foundation you will make leaps and bounds.
  4. Stay safe!!!
  5. Remember you are already ahead of the game because you are trying.

Previous Training Tips:

  1. Horses learn from the release of pressure, so look for the release. Even if you can only reward them for a small try, then do it.
  2. Slow is smooth and smooth is fast. Take your time with it. Horses are better off if you are smoother and methodical with your movements, so go slower, be smoother and your horse will often be less reactive and more respectful.
  3. Sometimes you have to let the horse make a mistake in order to teach them what is correct.
  4. Remember to have some fun with it. If you and your horse are bored, try learning a new technique or working on "free time" where you remove your halter and allow your horse to work with you without anything encumbering them, this gives them the option to truly be with you or leave you. It will tell you a lot of where your relationship stands with your horse. This can really build on your foundation. You can also gain confidence for yourself and with your horse using obstacles on the ground. Being with them rather than "pushing" them via riding.
  5. Breathe! Remember to breathe! A lot of people forget to do this simple thing and it just gets you in more trouble. If you are so tense that you keep forgetting then try singing. If nothing else, bring someone with you enjoy talking to while you are with your horse and ask him or her to distract you.
  6. Let go of the past. Horses are living in the moment; take a lesson from them and try the same. No matter what your past experiences were with a particular horse that is making you nervous, or with any horse, do your best to let it go.
  7. Release your tension. For me, I imagine blowing out bees - they make me tense. I envision blowing them out and away from me so I can relax as best I can. Try envisioning the release of something that causes you tension and just feel it lift or fall away.
  8. Have fun! Yes, that's right, I said it, have fun! Whatever you are doing, whether it be grooming your horse and getting all of those loose winter hairs off or racing a friend through an open field, live a little and have some fun. We are blessed enough to be here now and should really enjoy it.

 

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