Poll Recap: Groundwork Practice
If you had to choose between spending your time in the saddle or working with your horse on the ground, what would you choose? Most of us would probably opt for time in the saddle, but groundwork can be an important part of your horse’s routine and benefit you, as well.

In last week’s online poll, we asked our readers if groundwork is a regular part of their routine with their horses. More than 450 people responded, and we’ve tallied the results!

Of the 452 respondents, 367 (81%) said yes, groundwork was a regular part of their routine with their horses, while the remaining 85 respondents (19%) said it was not.

Photo: TheHorse.com

Additionally, more than 70 people commented about the groundwork they practice with their horses:

Many respondents said groundwork is a regular part of their routine with their horse:

  • “I still maintain groundwork with my three horses who are 15, 18, 19.”
  • “All sessions start with groundwork. It lets horse know it’s time to go to work and pay attention.”
  • “I work two to three days each week on ground work, with two to three days trail riding.”
  • “Yes, horses benefit from it greatly, Clinton Anderson’s method is the one I use.”
  • “Every time before I saddle up.”
  • “Yes! If you can’t control the horse on the ground, you’ll be worse off in the saddle.”
  • “My horse and I do groundwork daily along with riding.”
  • “Even if I don’t have time to ride, I round pen my two mares a lot, together and separately.”
  • “I have to do groundwork or my horse is so stiff.”
  • “Groundwork starts most sessions with horses, sets the mood, reminds of manners, and health check.”
  • “Absolutely! I need to know where his brain is before I put a foot in the stirrup.”
  • “I always do a few minutes of basic groundwork, it gets them focusing on me and more relaxed.”
  • “Ten to 20 minutes of longeing prior to riding. It gives me and horse time to see how the horse feels.”
  • “I often do a pre-ride check with ground work with young horses.”
  • “Always. That way I can be sure we are on the same page before I ride.”
  • “Very important and helpful. I take them for hand walks away from the herd with positive results.”
  • “Groundwork gets the horse’s attention in preparation for riding. It is an essential part of my routine.”
  • “Groundwork is so important. From longeing and long-lining to leading practice, we do it all often.”

Some said they utilize groundwork, but not in their regular routine:

  • “I use ground work mostly in early training birth to 3 years very little after that.”
  • “I do ground work as needed, depending on the horse’s mood, energy level and distractibility.”
  • “No, except for a short time to get a rescue to not be afraid of picking up feet for trims.”
  • “Used groundwork in past and on cold windy days, but mainly she just takes care of me on short rides. Both of us are aged.”
  • “Ground work on days we don’t ride. Keeps everyone tuned up.”
  • “Since my horse is broke and knows his job I usually rotate and do ground work one day and ride the other.”

Several respondents shared what they see as benefits of groundwork:

  • “I find it is a way to create predictability and focus with my horse before moving on.”
  • “It helps to get their attention and focus before riding.”
  • “It keeps their mind busy and is a nice alternative to riding and helps to train for ridden exercise.”
  • “It helps me take a good look at their movements and attitude.”
  • “I use ground work for respect and teaching, before mounting”
  • “Groundwork is great for relationship building and the horse’s mental health, at liberty is fun too.”
  • “Daily ground work is essential for communication and trust building.”
  • “An opportunity to check gaits, work off energy, and establish relationship.”

A few people mentioned the type of groundwork they do with their horses:

  • “Frequent longeing; some work in hand and ground-driving on wet days”
  • “Not always traditional lunging, but definitely handling and manners at all times.”
  • “I use the Clinton Anderson method. It’s great.”
  • “Very beneficial for all horses; we use gait transitions, change of direction, and backing.”
  • “Stretching, lateral work, coming, and sending and some fun stuff”

Others left general comments:

  • “Groundwork is the foundation for everything and can be done even when there is no time to ride!”
  • “Whenever you handle, you should do some type of training! Use it or loose it!”
  • “It’s the very foundations of a great riding skills, a fabulous horse, and bonding!”
  • “When he is in his surcingle or is saddled and in the pen, his mind is in ‘work mode.’”
  • “If the horse doesn’t respect you on the ground, it won’t respect you while you’re on it! Keep it fun.”
  • “It is really a base of communication and relation with the horse.”
  • “I make sure my horses can and will do everything on the ground first.”
  • “Rehabbing a suspensory injury and have had eight months on the ground with my horse!”
  • “Groundwork is essential. Many problems under saddle are preventable/fixable on the ground!”
  • “I have three OTTBs who can get a little high, so groundwork is essential.”
  • “Done correctly this is just as important as under saddle and you can see what they’re doing.”

You can also find more information on safe longeing techniques, tips for how to get a horse to respect you, how young foals can learn basic handling skills, and tips for selecting a round pen at TheHorse.com.

The results of our weekly polls are published in The Horse Health E-Newsletter, which offers news on diseases, veterinary research, health events, and in-depth articles on common equine health conditions and what you can do to recognize, avoid, or treat them. Sign up for our e-newsletters on our homepage and look for a new poll on TheHorse.com.