Day 7 Of The Confident Rider Challenge
Today is the completion of the first week of the confident rider challenge. And I know we have been doing a lot of prep work, as well as groundwork. But the importance of groundwork cannot be over emphasized in my opinion. Groundwork is the foundational work that will carry over to when we are riding our horses.
Did you know that before students are allowed to ride at the Spanish Riding School in Austria they must complete 4 years of ground training? Think about that for a minute. These riders must work for 4 years, on the ground before they can ride.
If groundwork is so important to those who ride the white Lipizzaner stallions, shouldn’t we hold groundwork with our own horses to that level of importance? But so many times, we don’t give groundwork the attention it deserves. We only have so much time with our horses, and we determine that time will be best used in the saddle. But then when we get into the saddle we fight with our horses, or worse, we fall off, or get our confidence crushed because we pushed our horses too much.
The Importance Of Groundwork
I look back at when I got dumped, and I think about the moments before. I didn’t lunge Ethan. He was already not acting like he normally does and yet I still decided it was a good idea to ride. I didn’t lunge him or work with him on the ground first. There was a video idea in my head, and that took priority over making sure my horse was in the right frame of mind to be ridden. I was so focused on what I wanted that I didn’t take into consideration of what my horse needed.
If I would have been paying attention to the signs he was giving me, I would have understood this day was not a day to be riding. This should have been a day of working from the ground.
The purpose of all the work we are doing with our horses is to have our horses respond in a positive way to everything we are asking of them. Every time you work with your horse on the ground think about how that will translate when you are in the saddle. And everything you do from the ground does translate to when you are on your horses back.
If you allow your horse to act out from the ground, there is a good chance it will happen when you are in the saddle. And then you have given the control to your horse. If a horse doesn’t respect and trust you while you are on the ground, how do you think he will respond when you get in the saddle?
Having A Strong Foundation Of Training
Training your horse from the ground first allows your horse to understand what you are asking of them. And they don’t have the added worry of trying to balance you, and themselves. It is easier for your horse to experience something from the ground. And then when you are in the saddle they will be able to understand what you are asking because you have already practiced this – from the ground.
And since I am not able to ride right now, but I can work with my horses, all the groundwork I have been doing with Ethan should help to prepare him for when I am in the saddle. I am so looking forward to that day. It is easy for me to focus on ground work because I don’t have a choice. You do have a choice, and I hope that you choose to focus on your groundwork too.
So try not to look at groundwork as boring. And if someone tells you groundwork isn’t important, or you are wasting your time, just smile politely and then continue your work. It will pay off. And it will be worth it. If it’s good enough for the riders of the Lipizzaner stallions, it’s good enough for me.
Since we are at the end of week one, this is a big ask for a challenge that you won’t be able to complete in one day. The challenge today is to do something with your horse every day this week. For the next 7 days, I want you to work with your horse from the ground. It can be leading, desensitizing, lunging, grooming, or whatever you can think of. And each day increase the length of time that you are spending with your horse.
I know this is not an easy task. But it will be so worth it! I promise!