Friday, November 28, 2008

The ABC's of Horsemanship

If you take a lesson or send a horse for training at Raining L Ranch you will notice a commitment to groundwork. Every student, no matter what age does some groundwork, and groundwork is done with every horse, no matter what the experience level. The exercises vary in difficulty and in what they are accomplishing, but you never out grow what you can learn from groundwork. Why the focus on groundwork? Because groundwork is to horsemanship what ABC's are to reading.

I am spending the Thanksgiving weekend with my cousin and his family. He and his wife have three beautiful girls: Bella, age 6, Serena, age 4, and Gianna, age 2. Bella is starting to read sentences. Serena, is just starting to read words. Gianna is learning her ABC's. These skills are going to serve them through High School, college, and even graduate school no matter what direction they choose to study.

Similarly, groundwork is the foundation from which all else in horsemanship builds. The handler learns how to move each of the horse's feet. The horse learns to recognize cues and respond correctly. Groundwork works through resistance and focuses the horse and handler mentally.

There is a direct correlation between groundwork and the subsequent maneuvers a horse will be asked to preform under saddle. Sidepassing, for example, is simply moving the horses front feet and hind feet to the side at the same time. This is rooted in the ability to yield the horse's hind quarters and to yield the front end. This is done separately at the beginning and then develops into the ability to move both ends simultaneously. The same concept applies to any maneuver: the basis is in the ability to accurately move the horses feet. It doesn't matter if the interest is dressage, roping, or endurance... the ABC's are the same.

Check back weekly for groundwork exercises to improve your horsemanship. Also ask me questions or send me topics you'd like to see addressed.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


Welcome to the brand new blog for Raining L Ranch.