Saturday, November 28, 2009

Ground Work and Ring work

There are so many good reasons for ground work with horses and one of those is just as Heather pointed out when she was working along with her visiting Aunt. We use ground work as an exercise for our "riders" in the therapeutic program. People can learn so much from this in terms of body language and communicating.

Body language is the largest form of communication between two people. 80% of all “talking” is done this way. Often times when we are communicating with a friend, co-worker, or peer we temper what we say based on the language we interpret from another’s stance, the look on their face, hand gestures, or numerous other body language signs and expressions. For many, this skill is just there, we know how to do it without really knowing how we do it. For some—this ability is not well developed or missing entirely.

For those individuals who struggle with relationships, understanding cues from others, and in their ability to communicate their own needs~ they can learn through this ground work without having the anxiety that a “person to person” exchange can bring. Since all communication with a horse is done through body language it allows the "rider" to learn about the small movements that encompass communication and expression. Working with a horse on the ground, participants begin to recognize how their stance, posture, attitude, and movements affect another. In their head, they may want the horse to do one thing but through their body they are giving a different cue and can’t figure out why the horse is reacting differently then they want. It's awesome when one of the participant's in the program gets it all together and realizes they cam 'move' the horse with their own body... and not by using force and not by touching the animal.

Ground work is also all about gaining respect, learning to demand respect. I find it to be pretty rewarding myself when I ask and can receive a response that is asked. I know I feel great that I am a decent communicator and can elicit the right response from the horse I am working with - and the chances are, if I can get it from the ground.. I can get it safely in the saddle as well. It's a super tool for all horse owners.

Here's a trail maze set up in the indoor for the lesson riders - Zoe and I use it too when it is set up. It has a small bridge at the half way mark. The horses love these little surprises.

A little extra fun.

Zoe and Elektra and Keri and I got out for a quick zipping trot and then we worked in the big ring. Zoe is very focused on the shoulders in and haunches out thing -- so I followed her around learning some more too. Keri actually started to get it at the walk, but at the trot..well-- let me say; while one is learning, it seems it's best to stay at the sitting trot and Keri was being rather (brattingly) racy. I spent the rest of the afternoon sitting to her trot and attempting to keep her SLOW. I was very tired after that lesson ! But when we were done, she was getting the idea fairly well and actually did a little lateral trotting down the diagonal.. Elektra on the other hand - once she stops and listens.. she begins to digest her teachings quite well. Pretty exhausting stuff.. sitting properly, all those cues with your legs pushing over and holding in place... wow.

I tried to get a short video - Zoe and Elektra were doing so well.. my horse was jiggling and impatient.. but here is a VERY short piece. If you look carefully, you'll see Elektra getting it right.. traveling with her hind in the track and her front shoulder in. This is after just 2 or 3 lessons. Anyway-- I'm proud of the two of them.. so bear with the poor video from a bragging Mom :)

difficult to believe it's almost December -- Almost the end of November Battle of the Blogs- I've enjoyed hearing from all the new and long lost posters.. keep it up for December too !

Enjoy ~

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