Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Ground Manners

Ground manners are very important.  Not only do they insure your safety when working around horses, they strengthen the relationship between you and your horse by enforcing boundaries.  Some horses come to us with beautiful ground manners.  For instance, Mufasa.  He is always respectful; he stands quietly -- heck, he ground ties.

Then there is Winston.  I'm not sure if it is just part of his appy-tude personality or if it is due to his previous owner, but Winston came to me with zero respect for my space.  I have been consistently firm with him and so he does not invade my space -- and he backs up when I step into his.  He walks at my side quietly.  He does not rub his bridle on the tie rail when we finish but waits for me to take it off.  Then he rubs and rubs and rubs.  He doesn't rub on me for the most part.  Once in a great will I still having to reinforce this and he will try to rub on other people.

Most recently he has shown consistency at the mounting block.  He still fidgets when I tighten his girth.  Sometimes he stands still while I drop the irons and snug everything up.  Sometimes is around 50%.  He isn't girthy.  He just likes to move around and look at everything.

 Once we move to the mounting block he is gold.

He lines himself up perfectly so all I have to do is step over onto his back.  He puts himself in position and he doesn't budge.

Once I am on, he doesn't walk off (anymore).  He waits for me to wiggle my feet into the irons, pick up the reins and then give him a gentle squeeze.  It may not seem like a big deal, but it has taken a year to get the whole thing together.

The rest will come.


  1. Red came to me with appallingly bad ground manners - he didn't care where I was at all and would barge, and push, and even bolt on the line, and many other bad things. He was also mouthy and would bite. He also wouldn't stand for mounting. And then he wouldn't let his feet be picked - striking, kicking . . . You get the idea. Good ground manners and hoof handling and leading and standing still for mounting are absolute essentials for me. Red's now completely reliable on all counts - it took a while to get here, but he and I are both happier now.

  2. You and that beautiful boy are cookin'.

  3. Think of all you've done in a year - trail rides, ranch trip, first show. Well done, you two!

    Love the header. I know I've said it before, but that browband is really pretty, and it suits him to a t.

  4. Some of the kids' ponies that we had over the year had the most awful ground manners but were mostly perfect under the saddle. It's really surprising what people will tolerate, especially with ponies or horses that children will be handling.

  5. You and Winston have come a long way!

    Val came lacking ground manners too. It took a while, but he's much better now. He still grabs and chews his reins when tacking up and untacking - we're a work in progress on fixing that habit which was thought to be cute by his former owners.


Thanks so much for commenting! I love the conversation.