Horse Problems Australia,
Post Office Box 89,
Surrey Downs, SA. 5126.
PH. (61) 0882515250

 

Horseproblems Australia
Post Office Box Victor Harbor
SA. 5211
(61) 0885521418
horseproblems@horseproblems.com.au

 

GROUND MANNERS EXPLAINED

by

John O'Leary
Horseman
1996


I hate horses with bad ground manners. It is probably my pet hate. At least 85% of all horses that I meet in Australia, do not have good ground manners.

Ground manners affects and transfers to ridden manners. So often, what you get on the ground is transferred directly to the ridden work. They mirror each other. So, what an appalling situation or am I just too picky? I may be but I rave about these matters as they are the sorts of things that cause all of the problem horses that I have to deal with. As Robert Redford said in 'The Horse Whisperer" "I only deal with horses with people problems." How true that statement was.

I know one shouldn't generalize or lay blame, but part of the reason for this website is to attempt to massage the minds of those in charge of the Horse Industry. To get them to think about things other than swooning around champagne tents at Horse Shows.

In Australia at least, the bad ground handling of horses came from England. From the Racing Industry, the Military and the Police. These days it is perpetuated down through the generations and the biggest culprit now is the Pony Club Movement. On and on goes the teaching that causes ignorant horses on the ground and a terrible lack of control under halter. This transfers to everything in the horse/human relationship, the pecking order, respect or lack of it and indeed, danger of injury and in the future, Risk of Litigation. Anyhow, enough of that.

The one who has done and is still doing the greatest work in influencing a new brand of thinking in this area is Pat Parelli. His '7 Games' should be taught to every kid in the world and if they were, horses would not only get a better deal but riders' would have such an improved lot in life as well. So you can call this article a bare faced blatant plug for Parelli. Meanwhile, here are some questions for you:

  • If you are walking on the left hand side of your horse and you suddenly want to turn to the right, does your horse move to the right and get out of your way or do you have to walk around the front of the horse?
     

  • If you are standing with your horse at halt, can you walk directly through the horse's neck and will it move out of your way?
     

  • When you lead your horse, can you lead it on about a meter of rope, run around all over the place and not have the horse get in front of you, cut you off or deviate you in any way?
     

  • If you are standing alongside your horse's head and go to walk beneath it's chin to get to the other side, will the horse knock your hat off or move it's head out of the way?
     

  • If you are standing in the car park talking to a friend, will your horse remain at least a meter out of your space or will it be treading on your toes?
     

  • If you ask your horse to get out of your space, will it, will it stay out or will it come closer in and put it's head over your head and invade you worse?

These and many others are signs to look for when assessing if a horse is ignorant on the ground.

 Remember, ignorant on the ground, ignorant under saddle. Heavy on the ground, heavy in the mind, heavy in the mouth. It all follows on. Behaviour and habit influences the mind, the mind influences the mouth.

(See Leading the Horse) for a complete and extensive lesson on the matter.

 

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