riding vs. ground work

Until the last couple of years I’ve always worked/trained my own horses. 

We had two horses recently that I could not handle so they went to the trainer.  The trainer, who I do respect, incorporates ground work into the weekly routine with bitting and long lining. 

In the past, I have mostly just ridden my horses to prepare them for showing.  We now have two different horses that are completely trained and I am working them at home with occassional lessons at the trainers.  Neither of them has any major issues just need some muscling up, got a late start this year.  During the lessons it has been suggested that I could bit them or long line them.  I haven’t had a chance to ask yet, but what would be the reason to do ground work over riding unless there was an issue?  I imagine for the trainer with 20 horses to work it is a time and energy issue, faster to do ground work than ride.  What do you guys think?



10 Responses to riding vs. ground work

  1. RaeOfLight says:

    Great question! I am in no way a professional, but I love working with my horses from the ground. Long-lining just might be my favorite thing. I love being able to place the horse and SEE the result. Obviously there’s no way to perfect leg cues from the ground, so saddle work is also important. But I think if you can get the horse consistently moving correctly from the ground before you get on their back, it’s so much easier to keep the frame together when learning new things.

    I’m anxious to hear what everyone else has to say.

  2. StacyGRS says:

    variety is the spice of life!! How many timjes can a horse get ridden without it becoming boring? Aside from the fact that you are then endlessly stressing the same muscles and joints, and never the others. Our horses all vary, but I have one that has been a very successful saddle horse for me for quite a while and she is jogged 3-4 times a week and lined usually once and ridden once. She knows her job and does it well and with this schedule, the riding days are the fun ones for her. It keeps her fresh without me having to be on her back all the time. She’s darned near perfect in her manners and knowledge of her job, so, continuing to ride her 5-6 times a week there is nowhere to go but down…eventually she’ll get bored and come up with some bad habit or random quirk that came about simply due to such monatany that she started to look to entertain herself. A great show horse is game and has a little life to them…meaning that they are not going to bloom if they are bored. I would guess that’s why your trainer breaks up the schedule. That said, we don’t LL too much once they can drive due to the stress the circles put on them.

  3. colwilrin says:

    The old time “saddle horse” trainers used to have a saying “Ride a driving horse, drive a riding horse.”

    Just as Stacy says the reason behind it was to keep them from getting bored, stop them from developing bad habits in their show discipline, and work different muscle groups.

  4. Jennifer says:

    A couple of clarifications:

    I know the trainer never drives any of the horses.

    Mine are hunt and western. In addition to Saddleseat I do have a dressage background and work patterns with both horses. I work with them 3-4 days per week depending on the weather as I don’t have an indoor arena. They both drive, but I don’t have a cart and haven’t hooked anything in years. The hunt horse was not recommended for driving and previously was used as a Classic lesson horse.

    Also, my neighborhood is everything, but quiet! I have crazy neighbors with all kinds of animals, motorcycles, bicycles, etc. The ambulance/police/fire go by at least once a day on the weekends with sirens and lights. Then there is the ice cream truck going through the neighborhood across the street. Little kids in a garden trailer getting pulled around by a garden tractor.

    The horses are turned out for 8-12 hours in a large pasture, 7 acres divided into pastures.

    Does any of that make a difference for boredom and muscle groups?

  5. Gold Creek says:

    I’d say ride the western horse….and I think it’s possible to ride them daily and not have them become bored…it’s quite possible to do some cross training with them (trailriding/dressage) to give them variety.

  6. Carole says:

    I ride, drive and train my “Dancing Morgans” with the long lines. I don’t ,personally, think that training is “ground work vs riding.’ I think that the two go wonderfully hand in glove. I start all of my horses on the ground. By the time I climb on them they are broke…I’m 65 and am too old to get tossed off by a young green horse due to my eagerness to climb on a horse that doesn’t know everything from the ground.

    I love long lining. I use 40 foot lines and can send them way out and bring them back. I can teach both sides of the horse’s mouth at once and enjoy watching them dance with me as they learn their lines. All of this training is supposed to be enjoyable for both horse and person…so I always read my sign at the end of my arena.”There are no short cuts.” The sign is for me as well as my students.

    I hope that you visit my website http://www.carts-carriages.com and watch the video so you can see where long lining and riding combined has taken my horses and me.

    I think there is room for both ‘ground work and riding” in the teaching of horses and people.

  7. Jennifer says:

    Thank you everyone for the valuable input. I think I’m just really excited to have two sane horses to ride :-). It has been about 22 years since that happened. I’m sure I’ll eventually incorporate the long lining and ground poles for both horses.

  8. StacyGRS says:

    BTW…bitting is invaluable, IMO. Letting them figure it out and practice without you being the bad guy is nothing but good for them. We often turn them out to play in their bitting stuff…they get some free fun and they get tuned up in the bridle at the same time.
    Each horse is different, but, if you go to Oklahoma you’ll see many a World Champion hunter and western horse getting their exercise in long lines or a cart. If your horses don’t drive, then, that can’t really be an option but I have to say that all of our riding horses benefit from driving…and vise versa. I would mostly say that if these were horses that you couldn’t handle before (if I understand your first post correctly) and then they went to the trainer, that you respect, and became horses that you CAN handle thru their training, then I think I’d take the trainer’s advise over that of any of us on the internet:):) The trainer has obviously had somne success with the program, so, why not continue it? Chat with your trainer and give their way a shot if they are the ones that have done well with the horses…obviously it worked.

  9. Jennifer says:

    Hi Stacy,
    Thank you for your input and I do understand what you are saying. These are two totally different horses and have not been with my trainer at all. I have trailered in and ridden three lessons on each horse.

  10. StacyGRS says:

    I see…sorry. I thought they were the same horses. Regardless, if you trust your trainer and they have given you some advise after seeing and working with you and the horses, you might give it a shot.
    Good luck and have fun!!

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