I need some advice on how to get more confident on the ground around Horses.


I feel perfectly fine, and confident on Horse-Back, but while Grooming, Tacking-up, and leading Horses I don't feel confident at all.


I see the other people who work at the Barn leading two crazy Horses into the barn, and I can barely manage one motoring down the aisle to their stall, nearly dragging me.


I want to get better on the ground, because I know that some Horses can (and will) take advantage of a nervous ground person.


Any advice will help!



Views: 281

Replies are closed for this discussion.

Replies to This Discussion

hmmm its hard to teach this without being there in person with you...I can give you tips on what I do to create confidence in horses and people in general..

for me it comes down to defining my space.. I have a personal bubble that the horse is not allowed to come into uninvited...

once the bubble is created it moves to the feet, the horse moves his feet from you, not the other way around..

cant think of much more at this moment I have just come off a night shift lol
Hi, Jocelyn:

Check out Jennifer's Lamm's discussions on coping with Oliver. Jen's learned a lot, and implemented it. Her secondary discussion on Clicker Training will help you as well. Jen did eveyrthing on her own, following the advice that Shaiarabs and I, among others, gave her, over the course of several weeks.

I hope this helps! It made a different trainer out of Jennifer, and now she's helping others with similar issues!
Hi Jocelyn.... Jan is right, I got alot of help here and Shai is right too..... defining your space.... this is a big word for alot of work that needs to be done.... I for one don't ride my horse at all... I just feel that if the horse and I cannot go through the paces on the ground then there is no way I am going to get on him..... I have no idea where you want to start or what your issues are but if you are more specific, we can all help..... confidence really comes from practice.... this weekend I had Oliver on his lead rope, and we just practiced going into his stall and out of his stall, me asking him to stand behind me till i went in, then asking him in, turning him and going back out.... then around a barrel, over a log, over a tarp, through the gate, etc just like when you ride, you must have cues for what you want your horse to understand when you are on the ground... that body language takes practice... .... I practice and practice with him..... I also practice getting his attention if he is distracted by disengaging his hip.... he and I are doing really good... yesterday he was so calm that I stood next to him, high on the rail... and rubbed his side from over his back... I am getting so ready to getting on him... I've spent 3 years on the ground..... I wouldn't trade it for anything... and I still have tons more work to do outside on walks, around dogs, on trails, seeing birds, whathaveyou... I want to do the entire series of ground work... it's really proving to be fun and rewarding... practice..... practice... and keep the lead short till you feel more comfortable letting it out... I'm not sure where my discussions are... but maybe they are under my name!! good luck, Jen and oliver and toby...
Thanks, and I'll be sure to take a look at your discussions.

It's harder for me, because the barn I'm at is a lesson barn, and I don't own my own Horse, so I can't take the time to practice feeling confident opening and closing gates, and walking around, when the Horse isn't mine...

What a situation. =)
Hi, Jocelyn:

You're right, it is harder, but it can still be done. Offer to help with barn chores at your lesson barn, and that will put you in proximity to the horses more often. Really, the best thing is being around them as much as possible.

The bottom line is that they're big, they can move quickly and without warning, and your discomfort is a rational and logical feeling. The more you work with them on the ground the more comfortable you will get (pretty much like anything else). Offer to hold well-broke, steady horses for the farrier, which mostly no one wants to stand there and do. Most barns would be happy to have you offer to groom horses for them, hold them for simple procedures, etc. That will give you more mileage more quickly, and the mileage will make the difference.

If you get the chance to read check out Buck Brannaman's books, or anything about Ray Hunt, at the library, and then try to use what you've read. Those guys are really horsemen, and nothing they have to say has anything to do with gimmicks or marketing - it's the real deal. If you can find anything by Linda Tellington-Jones, use that. Some of it's pretty hokey, but the basics are very good, and extremely useful, and Linda explains them well.

Most of all, please don't feel that there's something missing in you! Being careful around large animals should be a habit, and good on ya if you've already figured that out. You just need time!
I know just what you mean! I rode for years at a barn and didn't do anything on the ground except take the horse in and out of the stall, and tack him up! I missed so much!!

You could try volunteering at a horse rescue, and/or at a facility that provides riding for the disabled. I did both of those activities and it helped me so much. Plus it was really fun and rewarding :)

Then, eventually, when you feel more confident you might try co-boarding a horse and maybe take lessons as well. That would give you some alone time to do whatever you want, on the ground or in the tack.

Enjoy the journey!
Hi Jocelyn..... welll then if it's harder for you because the barn is a lesson barn, then maybe you can try this..... before you even engage with your horse.... or any horse.... are you sure you are in a good mood, have you had something to eat, are you focused on what you want to happen from point A to point B and what can Jocelyn do to be the most confident wonderful leader for her horse? I sometimes literally take one step at a time...... if Oliver gets stuck we have to go back or if I get stuck, shoot most of the time I'm having a problem ... that way, we can take a short walk from the water bucket to the food bucket and have 100% success...... that way we both have confidence.... me in him and he in me...... short experiences are just as important as long ones... every time you see your horse now you can be the new and improved.... all of a sudden, it's fun now to do something new because you've given yourself permission to go slow.... what if you walk from one point to another but in the middle you turn your horse in a circle a full loop all the way around in both directions???? my horse wouldn't even be good by the way..... especially if other horses and people were around so if you can do that you are doing good..... when doing exercises don't worry about anything except... how am I feeling, am I breathing, looking where I want to go, am I confident in my body language.... and then how is he? is he relaxed, paying attention and giving me permission to lead him here???? leading is a skill.. :) try in hand work if you don't believe me... it's a sport in itself... :) Good Luck Justice and just smile if you can and let your horse know you believe in yourself and him.. and if you don't genuinely feel that way then ya gotta practice.... my horse and I don't ride yet.... but if I point at his shoulder he backs up.... that sister is like a zillion hours of practice.... and spending time with him.. blocking out everything else and just working on communicating with Oliver asking him to move his shoulder, his hip, back up, move forward, disengage, shoot we can practice in a teeny area. .... I hope you get to try it.... standing next to my horse without being scared, when he used to either knock me down with his head or his neck or his shoulder is a big deal for me..... probably sounds dumb that I've spent three years on the ground.... but my horse was orphaned, had dominance issues and was very pushy to me... now he's sweet, obedient and willing.... so sometimes it's about taking the time to change the attitude.... and that is a fun experiment with each new horse... being at a lesson barn must be full of lessons. :) I hope to hear of your adventures..... Jen
Thank-you so much! Taking it slow will help...I think.

I`m starting to help out with the beginner lessons at the barn, which is just helping them tack-up, and then making sure the Horses stay on the track, and that you don`t get run over... (they aren`t too good at steering yet... =P)
I hope slowly working my way up the Ground Confidence levels is gonna make a HUGE difference!

Thanks again!
great posts guys...

thats the way jocelyn...you can do it mate.. if you come across a particular situation that you would like more info on just pop it in here and we can help you problem solve it..it can only benefit only you but the horse, rider and barn as well..
Thank-you everyone so much!

Today, I arrived at the barn earlier, so I put some of the Horses out in their feilds, and I felt much better keeping in mind what all of you have said.

Thank-you so much again!
Jocelyn, When I first started doing any ground work I was taking lessons at a training barn and whenever I could I would help bring the horses in at the end of the day and help with the chores. That was helpful to me. I am probably more comfortable on the ground now. then in the saddle.
I think the number one thing is focus on what you WANT. If you can express to yourself in a simple sentence what you want without using a negative that is the first step. "I want the horse to stop..." is a negative. You mention the horse motoring down the aisle with you in tow, I bet you'd say "I want him to stop dragging me to his stall" if I'd asked you. Instead say (and do say it to yourself, in words, in your head) "I want the horse to walk nicely beside me at my speed."

Sounds stupid doesn't it? But if you know what you WANT you will be quicker to pick up on it when the horse does something that you don't want, and instead of saying "Stop that!" to the horse you will be able to say "DO this". Horses you see don't understand "don't" or "stop" - they need us to tell them what to DO (and even standing still is DOing something). So you can say to the horse dragging you along "slow down and walk with me" and if they push ahead, you slow them down, or halt them, or even back them up to convey the idea that they must walk with you instead of pulling ahead. The quicker you can catch and correct the undesired behaviour the more respect the horse will have for you and you will find correction easier. I bet that horse dragging you down the aisle didn't just start getting ahead of you in the aisle, but probably was pulling ahead outside before you reached the barn.

Confidence on the ground is focus and practice. Pay attention to the horse's movements and define what you want at any given time. You will find that certain horses have patterns of behaviour and you can preempt the behaviour by preparing for it before it happens. For example many school horses will start to walk when the halter comes off just before the bridle goes on and the student struggles to deal with the situation often by trying to get the bridle on as the horse is moving, sometimes by trying to halt the horse. But if you know the horse does it, you can be prepared with one hand holding the bridle on the horse's nose and be ready to push back as soon as the horse leans forward (which he must do before moving a hoof) without trying to put the bridle on first.

As you find that you can catch horses heading away from what you want, and that you can move them quite easily your confidence will grow. Strive to correct and move the horse with the minimum effort and the horses will read your confidence and respond. Strive for the minimum effort, but make sure that you get a response by using as much as you need, then ask again with less effort. And don't forget the praise when you get the response. ;-)

Good luck! Once you have the focus it's mostly just practice.


The Rider Marketplace

International Horse News

Click Here for Barnmice Horse News

© 2024   Created by Barnmice Admin.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service