Gymnastic Groundwork: NEW Home Study Course!

Hello, it’s Hannah here an announcement about our new Home Study Course: Gymnastic Groundwork!

It’s something I’ve been working on for the past few years and I’m really excited to finally be able to share it with you! So, what exactly is gymnastic groundwork?

Gymnastic groundwork is an holistic movement programme for your horse that is designed to increase your horse’s overall fitness, strength and physical health. It’s about preparing the body to cope easily with a wide range of movement situations, from cantering around in the field to being ridden. And, because it’s Connection Training, all of this is trained in a way which is gentle, clear and a positive, fun experience for both of you.

The Gymnastic Groundwork Exercises are:
In-hand work, including leading, shaping movement and lateral work
Lunging, including how to teach your horse to move happily on a circle, maintaining connection at higher paces and shaping your horse’s movement.
Poles and obstacle work to build body awareness and confidence if your horse.
Terrain exercises using the natural environment to broaden your horse’s confidence, balance and strength.

The main aims of our gymnastic groundwork course are:
1. To Stretch, Strengthen and Straighten your horse, so that he is supported, strong, supple and stable through his body.
2. To improve your horse’s body awareness, proprioception and co-ordination through mindful movement.
3. To aid with problem-solving, such as resistant to going forwards, rushing, leaning, falling, lack of responsiveness and even more extreme problem behaviours such as bolting, bucking or rearing.
4. To prepare your horse both physically and mentally for being ridden. This work builds beautifully and naturally into soft, responsive, balanced riding.
5.  To be as beneficial emotionally as it is physically! Too often, physical well-being is prioritised over emotional enjoyment, but we place the 2 as equally important and in this Course teach you how to help your horse’s body in a way which is fun, clear and rewarding for your horse so that he absolutely loves it, which in turn builds your connection and relationship together.
6For every horse. Whether your horse is big, small, old, young, ridden, or non-ridden, the aim of this work is to improve your horse’s overall physical well-being from wherever they start. It’s not about training high-level elite equine athletes for a specific discipline, but instead is about creating a positive base for all horses that keeps them sound, confident and able to turn their hoof to many different challenges.
7.  For every human. We’ve made these lessons simple, clear and progressive, building from leading your horse, so they are perfect if you’ve never done this work before or have been overwhelmed by complicated terminology and exercises before. Everything is broken down and step-by-step with theory on what and why and practical lessons on how to train it using positive reinforcement.

>>Want access? You can get instant access to this whole Course (and our other 10 Home Study Courses) as soon as you join the CT Club. For more info on what you get and to join, click here.

Want more info? Read on…

It’s a big course with 79 video tutorials (over 20 hours of videos). You can watch the videos in order or jump to the ones relevant to you and your horse.

There are fun Patterns throughout the Course. These are kind of like dressage tests with objects such as poles and pedestals, but the aim is fun, communication and connection with your horse. We’re not looking for perfection and they are non-competitive. They give you focus and guidance and are a great way to put into practice all of the lessons with your horse. I’ve loved putting them together and there are demos of each Pattern with my own horses, India, Freckles and Rowan, so you can see what they look like for real (with little wobbles, too – we just calmly re-connect and continue on!). 

It also comes with a training workbook. This is a 12 week programme of lesson plans to take you through the first Stage of the course. It covers what to work on in each training session with your horse (3 per week), when to add in new exercises with links to the relevant training videos and includes the Patterns, too. 

The Course is split into 3 modules. The first is the Theory: What You’re Training and Why. This is where we really look at how horses move and how we can help our own horses. So many people have said to me that they find this work confusing, conflicting advice, opinions and goals and don’t know where to start. I’ve felt the same myself and wanted to make this clear and accessible, which is what this module does.

From there, we get into the practical lessons. These are broken down into detailed step-by-step videos tutorials so you know exactly what you’re looking for at each stage of the exercise. You get to see me working with my horses and students with their horses. This range gives you a deeper understanding as each horses if different, so you learn different approaches and techniques to help with your horse horse.

Here’s EXACTLY what you get in the Gymnastic Groundwork Course (the video screenshots are a sneak peak at what you will get in the Course):

Module 1- Theory: What You're Training and Why

This video is your introduction to Gymnastic Groundwork. You’ll learn more about what it is, how it works and how it can help you and your horse.

Gymnastic work is so beneficial to all horses to help them become and stay sound, strong, supple and stable throughout their body. But, in order to understand why they need it and what we should include in our training, we need to look at how horses move in the wild and the challenges they face that naturally keeps their bodies in top condition. From there, we look at the environment our domestic horses live in, what activities and challenges we need to physically prepare them for and the kind of training exercises and movement patterns that will most benefit them.

As we begin to explore equine movement, this video also covers an understanding of the basic gaits of the horse and some common detrimental movement patterns, before moving on to what healthy movement looks like and what ‘engagement’actually is.

There is no better way to understand it than to feel it in your own body, so the second video takes you through some practical exercises to try at home to deepen your awareness and understanding of what we’re asking our horses to do and why.

These videos take a deeper (but simple!) look at what engagement means and how horses move when engaged. 

The first video looks at the role of different parts of the equine body in movement, including:
> The important and effect of the spinal ligaments
> Why do you need to lighten the forehand and what does that mean?
> The power, stride and carrying capacity of the hind legs
> How the position of the head and neck influences movement
> Lifting the chest
> How it all combines to support and lift the spine and allow balanced, free movement in the horse.

The second video gets more practical as we look at engagement in movement, including exactly what too look for in your horse as Hannah demonstrates with Rowan.

The third video explains the sliding scale of engagement, as you begin with the slightest amount in your training, extension and collection, and some more demonstrations of engagement in movement, including how the CT approach teaches horses to create this movement themselves so it’s free and relaxed, never forced.

In order for your horse to be moving well and staying strong and sound, it’s important that they’re using their body symmetrically. Horses, like humans, will tend to have a stronger or more supple side, or prefer to do things in a certain way, such as bending in one direction or easily picking up one canter lead and struggling with the other. In this video, we look at why it’s important for your horse to be straight and contributing factors that can lead to one-sidedness or imbalance in horses. We’ll also look at how gymnastic exercises can help your horse become even on both sides of their body.

Throughout the practical videos, you will learn more about your horse’s symmetry and preferences in movement, learning what they find more difficult and how you can help them to improve. To get you started on learning more about your horse, Veterinary Nurse and Equine Bodyworker, Sophie Pickard, shows you some simple ways to assess your horse in halt, easily done while tied up, held by a friend, or standing at a target.


 

This video begins by looking at how a horse bends throughout their body from nose to tail and why bending and circles are so helpful to strengthen, supple and straighten your horse. We then look at lateral movements. If you’ve ever wondered what a shoulder-in actually is then this is for you! We then take a look at each of the lateral movements so you understand exactly what they are (including some exercises you can try yourself with a banana!) and some of the benefits your horse can gain from including them in your training.

Improving your horse’s body awareness and control can help them to move more safely, from going over uneven terrain to playing with their friends in the field. It can help to build their confidence in all areas from lifting their feet for the farrier, loading and travelling to carrying a rider. This video looks at the different ways you can improve your horse’s co-ordinationusing a range of exercises such as body isolations (just moving one part of their body), using poles and obstacles and working on different surfaces and terrain. Throughout, as always, the emphasis is on gentle, fun progression with your horse.

Many horse trainers talk about getting the horse to go forwards. In this video, we look at the importance of good balance and rhythm before adding more energy. Allowing your horse to move in a slow rhythm also helps them to quietly and calmly learn these exercises without feeling rushed or out of balance. Adding energy without balance and rhythm leads to horses who fall on the forehand, rush, brace and lean. By teaching our horses how to move in balance first, then adding forwards energy, we get true impulsion with relaxed, powerful, balanced forwards motion.

So far, we’ve been mainly focusing on our horses’ bodies, but, of course, this is Connection Training, so what about their minds? It’s not uncommon in many training systems for the health of the horse’s body to be prioritised over their emotional well-being. In some emergency situations, this is often unavoidable, but as a general practice, we want out horses to be emotionally happy as well as physically healthy. This can mean that it can take a little longer to get the physical results, but is more than worth it as you’ll have a horse who has not been pushed, stressed or over-faced by the training, but has enjoyed it, building their confidence, joy and communication with you, leading to a horse who loves to move well for life.

Building on the general Connection Training approach, this video gives an overview of the specific techniques we use through this course in order to make it a joyful experience for our horses including the use of objects, variety, equipment and exercises used.

It’s now time to look at the other half of your partnership – You! Training is much more subtle and complex than simply ‘cue=behaviour=reward’. Your horse is always responding to your movement, breathing, heart rate, focus, speed and energy. In this video, we look at some of the ways horses naturally synchronise their movement with each other and how you can tap into this to improve your communication with your horse. We’ll also look at different ways you can bring your awareness to the training to make it softer, more subtle and more effective, improving your ‘feel’ with your horse.

Understanding your own preferences and imbalances is also of the utmost importance, both when you’re riding your horse and when you’re training from the ground. To help you improve your own strength, suppleness, straightness and body awareness, we’ve got videos from massage therapist and Tai Chi instructor, Kate Roux, and yoga teacher, Helen Gilbertson. You will learn more about how your body affects your horse, as well as some great exercises to improve your awareness and physical health.

Module 2 - Stage 1

The Stage 1 Workbook is a 12 week programme of lesson plans to take you and your horse through all of the exercises in Stage 1. It contains information on setting up your sessions, what to include in each session and links to relevant Course videos when you’re learning new exercises. It also contains 8 Patterns (like dressage tests, but in-hand and with objects such as poles and pedestals) to be completed through the 12 week programme. These are non-competitive and aim to give you focus and fun as you work through the Course.

Leading is the foundation for gymnastic groundwork as you and your horse work in movement together. This work builds directly on the leading lessons in the Training Foundation Course, and is a key first step in the gymnastic groundwork exercises. The videos in the unit cover many aspects of leading, with exercises and techniques to get you really connecting with your horse as you move together. 

Leading with Connection
> Building from the Foundation leading exercises
> Establishing walking on the track as an easy, default behaviour
> Clarifying your cues for leading
> Understanding your body language when leading to help your horse
> Staying connected in halt transitions
> Working on both the inside and outside of the horse
> Getting both soft and clear in your communication when leading
> Getting and maintaining your horse’s focus through distractions

Leading – Rhythm and Synchrony
> What is your horse’s natural rhythm?
> Understanding the Tai Chi principle of ‘follow, match, lead’
> Getting into synchrony with your horse
> Working on leading Around a Round Pen
> This lesson features CT Coach Suzy Deurinck and her lovely horse, Joy

Leading – Getting Connected
This video is an excerpt from a lesson working with a horse and human who were new to each other. It shows you practical tips to get your horse’s attention, to catch moments of distraction and disconnect quickly and how to actively connect with your horse to keep the conversation between you and your horse fluid and constant.

Leading – The Spooky Side
We use walking the track as a base behaviour for much of the gymnastic groundwork exercises, but that’s pretty difficult if your horse is scared of one side or area of the place you work in. This video gives you practical solutions to help your horse become confident in all areas of your arena.

Backing Up is a great exercise for your horse’s body as it really encourages them to engage their core and strengthens their back and hind quarters. The back up work in this Course builds on the back-up exercises taught in the Foundation Course (these videos are hosted there, too). In these videos you’ll learn how to teach a back-up from a hand on the chest or using a target and how to refine and improve the back-up using a target.

Stretching down is the first place to start as you begin to shape your horse’s movement. Stretching down helps horses to relax and to stretch out their neck and backs, so is important for warming up and cooling down at the start and end of your sessions. It’s also great to encourage your horse to stretch down between other exercises, too, to stretch out their muscles. If your horse is starting off with a tendency to move with a high head carriage, this exercise will teach them how to move with a lower head position. For all horses, it’s a useful position to teach them and put on cue to be able to encourage them to stretch down when necessary.

Lateral flexions of the head and neck simply means bending the horses head from side to side. This exercise begins to isolate the movement of the head and neck, building your horse’s suppleness and body awareness. In this video, you’ll learn how to begin to flex your horse’s head to each side using a target and how to transfer it to a soft rein cue. Throughout this process, you’ll learn how to vary your horse’s flexions as you ask your horse to place his head in different positions. As you do this, you’ll learn how to create soft, subtle cues that really improve your communication with your horse as you explain which flexion you’d like from your horse.

As well as building flexibility, body awareness and communication, this exercise builds into many other exercises such as bending, circles and lateral work.

Around a Round Pen (also being called a Reverse Round Pen by some of our members) is a technique I came up with when looking for a way to working with horses in protected contact while moving. For this reason, it appears in the Foundation course, so you may have used it already with your horse.

Here, however, we’re going to use it to teach your horse to lunge, or to move on a bigger circle at a little distance from you. This is great to be able to see your horse in full as he moves as well as being necessary when you move up to higher paces, such as as trot and canter. It is also a great way to give horses some more space to move freely during your sessions.

If you have a horse who has had negative experiences with working on a circle and who may be resistant, tense, rushing, or repeatedly turn in, this is a great way to re-train it with more positive experiences. Because it’s such a clear exercise, most horses love this work and it’s become a firm favourite with my horses and with many members and their horses, too.

When you’re making your round pen, the easiest way to do this is to use electric fence tape and poles or wrapped around cones. However, many horses are worried about this tape, and you should only use it if your horse is confidence about the fence as it’s there as a guide only. You can also use poles or fence rails resting on barrels, chairs or jump wings. You can even get pole cups that sit on top of cones, which would work really well. I made my own (and made use of all the cones and jump cups I already had) by drilling a hole through the top of the cone to attach my cups with pins, too. You can also get extendable barriers that hook over cones, sold as building or roadwork barriers, which are lightweight and easy to set up.

Video 1
Begin the work Around a Round Pen by walking next to your horse and getting connected in this new set-up. For this reason, the first video is one that featured in the Leading with Connection unit, but is perfect for a re-visit here. It features CT Coach Suzy Deurinck and her horse, Joy, working on Synchrony and Connection around the round pen.

Video 2
This video is also one that’s appeared earlier in the Course, in the theory module, but is also a great reminder here. This is a blog video from Rachel that shows her working with CT Coach Claire Waldron on connecting in walk using Around the Round Pen.

Videos 3 and 4
Once your horse is comfortable with working Around the Round pen, you can begin to move into more of a lunging position and increase the distance between you and your horse, working on voice cues for transitions and finally remove the round pen when it’s no longer necessary.

Teaching your horse to move his hindquarters over away from you is another isolation as you teach him how to move only his quarters. This is a great exercise for building body awareness, especially beginning to build your horse’s awareness and control of his hindlegs and feet. Teaching your horse to move his quarters over is an easy exercise for your horse to learn and is useful in a wide range of situations, from moving over for grooming or at a gate, as well as building into other exercises such as lateral work. In regards to moving the quarters over for gymnastic purposes, we’ll focus on the movement being slow, controlled, soft and engaged.

In Part 1, you’ll learn:

> what it is and why slow, controlled, soft steps are best
> how to initiate it with both a target and a rope
> what to look for in terms of the movement and assessing symmetry in your horse
> refining the exercise it to really isolate the movement of the quarters

In Part 2, you’ll see a couple more horses learning to move their quarters over, including one horse who gets a bit confused and stuck when learning it and another who gets tense and defensive about moving her quarters over due to her history.

In these videos, you’ll learn the very first steps of teaching your horse how to engage in walk. This process begins very gently and with very small changes to your horse’s movement and builds from there as your horse gains both strength and ability.

If you want a reminder of what you’re looking for and why, check out Unit 2 and Unit 3 in the Theory module.

Part 1 covers:
> How to teach your horse to rock back in halt, shifting his weight more to his hind legs and lightening his shoulders

In Part 2 covers:
> Some examples of horses beginning to engage and collect in movement
> How and why to introduce this exercise into movement very early on (rather than teaching rock backs in halt for a long time first)
> How to introduce it in movement using transitions and small changes of balance in walk
> How you can use this cue as half-halt to rebalance your horse.

Part 3 covers:
> Building duration of collected steps in walk
> Moving into more extended, lengthened movement, which builds from the synchrony exercises in the Leading with Connection exercises, but focusing on your horse maintaining the engagement in movement.

The next piece we’ll isolate for your horse is moving the shoulders over. This is a great exercise to encourage your horse to take more weight on the hindquarters and lighten the shoulders as they have to do this in order to be able to step across with their shoulders. It also builds body awareness and builds into many other exercises, from leading and lunging to lateral work.

Once your horse understands both shoulders over and quarters over, you can practice both isolations to ensure that your cues are clear and that your horse has the awareness to be able to move either the quarters or the shoulders.

These videos are all about bending your horse. If you need a reminder of what we’re looking for and why, check out Unit 5 from the Theory Module.

Part 1 covers:
> The bending exercises and cues
> How to get started with your horse using a target

Part 2 covers:
> Introducing bending to a horse who found it difficult
> Asking for bending using the rope
> Clarifying your cues between walking straight and bending
> Bending exercises and moving on

Poles are brilliant for adding variety and interest into your training, as well as for improving body awareness and engagement. These pole exercises start right at the basics of stepping over a single pole and builds from there. For a reminder on using objects to build horse’s body awareness, check out Unit 6 of the Theory module.

Overcoming Pole Fear
Horses are often scared of poles, or generally objects around their feet, due to past experiences or a lack of experience. If your horse is worried about poles, this video shows you 3 different ways, with 3 different horses to help build your horse’s confidence about poles. If your horse does have a fear of poles, you need to start here before moving onto the other videos and exercises. If your horse is already confident and happy with poles, you can jump straight into the next video.

Working with a Single Pole
Our gymnastic pole exercises start here, working with a single pole. This video covers walking over a pole, stepping over it one foot at a time (a fantastic exercise to build body awareness, especially of all 4 of your horse’s feet) and moving onto a raised pole.

Working with Multiple Poles
Making the exercises more complex, we move up to multiple poles, beginning with them spaced far apart and then working with them close together. These exercises give you some ideas for adding variety to your polework as you incorporate different exercises and pole arrangements into your training.

The Pole Square
This simple pole arrangement gives you a wide range of exercises to play with as you bring some of your other exercises, such as moving the quarters over and bending, into your polework.

Backing Over a Pole
Teaching your horse to back up over a pole is a great exercise for body awareness. In this video, you’ll learn how to introduce it in tiny steps to make it a fun and confidence-building exercise for your horse.

Pole Exercises Download
Never lack for inspiration on pole exercises and layouts! This PDF has loads of different pole exercises for you to try with your horse.

Asking your horse to step onto different surfaces builds their feet awareness and confidence and is a really fun exercise, too – they all seem to love it! This builds on the board work from the Foundation course as you now ask your horse to step up onto a low pedestal and a foam mat.

I find the best pedestals for this work are made from a robust hardwood pallet, topped with thick plywood and a non-slip surface such as carpet or rubber matting.
These foam mats are perfect for introducing soft surface work to your horse. The ones I’m using are children’s play mats from Ikea.

Standing on a Pedestal covers:
> Introducing the pedestal to your horse
> Focusing on hind feet
> Alternative boards and surfaces

Working with Foam Mats
> Introducing soft surface training with a foam mat
> Working with a foam mat ‘bridge’ and backing up on foam mats
> Turning around without stepping off the foam mats
> Introducing thicker mats

You’ve already begun to introduce lunging and work on a circle with your horse through the bending exercises. This is taken into work on a bigger circle as you teach your horse to lunge using a target.

As well as working Around the Round Pen, this technique will teach your horse how to lunge as you ask him to work on a bigger circle, ideal for working on bend and in higher paces. They are both great ways to re-teach lunging to your horse if he has had prior negative experiences with lunging and tends to resist, turn in or rush.

Both Around the Round Pen and Lunging with a Target techniques are really useful and I use both when working with my horses, so I recommend you try both of them with your horse.

Using the natural environment is fun, interesting and a great way to build your horse’s strength, awareness and confidence as you explore together. This work will really depend on the environment around you, so take a look at these videos and then see what different surfaces, slopes and natural obstacles you can play with with your horse. It’s best to start this gently and build up as your horse’s skills and confidence increase.

Part 1 covers:
> Exploring the natural terrain and letting your horse naturally work out how to navigate the obstacles you encounter
> Using puddles and water, slopes and banks, different surfaces, low branches
This video features CT Coach, Judith Edel.

Part 2 covers:
> Working on behaviours your horse has learned in the arena and asking for them in a different setting
> How to teach your horse to collect and balance going downhill and extend and power uphill in walk
> Working with single poles on a gentle slope
> Bending on a gentle slope
> Backing up a gentle slope

These patterns are designed to give you and your horse focus and fun as you work through the exercises. You can find guidance on the order to teach the exercises and include the patterns in your training in the Stage 1 Workbook. Alternatively, just pick the patterns that appeal to you and have a go! They are not competitive and the aim is connection, not perfection, so it doesn’t matter if you get things wrong (you’ll see I do in my videos!) as long as you calmly reconnect with your horse and get back on track together. You can come back to these patterns as much as you wish.

You can reward your horse during these patterns as frequently as suits your horse. You can also work up to performing the entire pattern with limited rewards, or just one at the end, which is a great way to focus on building duration and fading out the food of known behaviours.  You can use whatever equipment suits your horse – target, rope or neither. You can also adapt the patterns as you wish. All of this is flexible as the most important thing is that you and your horse are working together and enjoying it, so adapt the patterns to make them suitable for your horse and the level they’re at.

I have also included films of all the patterns as examples with my own horses.

We’d LOVE to see you and your horse completing these patterns! If you’d like to share them with us, please film them and share them to your training journal!

Pattern 1 
View and download Pattern 1 here: Pattern 1 PDF

Pattern 2
View and download Pattern 2 here: Pattern 2 PDF

In this video, you can see that Rowan struggled to back up between the gap in the pole corridor, so I simply walked her round again and made it easier for her. Afterwards, we went back and worked on backing up through the gap. Something to continue practising in future, too!

 

Pattern 3
View and download Pattern 3 here: Pattern 3 PDF

In this video, you can see that India adds in backing up over a pole. We just calmly reconnect and continue on. She also would prefer to have me on the outside where the bush is blowing next to the arena as she finds it a bit spooky in the wind. Through these, we just calmly keep up the conversation. Don’t worry if your horse has some moments like these. It’s not about being perfect, it’s about being connected!

Pattern 4

View and download Pattern 4 here: Pattern 4 PDF

These patterns are designed to give you and your horse focus and fun as you work through the exercises. You can find guidance on the order to teach the exercises and include the patterns in your training in the Stage 1 Workbook. Alternatively, just pick the patterns that appeal to you and have a go! They are not competitive and the aim is connection, not perfection, so it doesn’t matter if you get things wrong (you’ll see I do in my videos!) as long as you calmly reconnect with your horse and get back on track together. You can come back to these patterns as much as you wish.

You can reward your horse during these patterns as frequently as suits your horse. You can also work up to performing the entire pattern with limited rewards, or just one at the end, which is a great way to focus on building duration and fading out the food of known behaviours.  You can use whatever equipment suits your horse – target, rope or neither. You can also adapt the patterns as you wish. All of this is flexible as the most important thing is that you and your horse are working together and enjoying it, so adapt the patterns to make them suitable for your horse and the level they’re at.

I have also included films of all the patterns as examples with my own horses.

We’d LOVE to see you and your horse completing these patterns! If you’d like to share them with us, please film them and share them to your training journal!

Pattern 5
View or download pattern 5 here: Pattern 5 PDF

Pattern 6
View or download pattern 6 here: Pattern 6 PDF

Pattern 7
View or download pattern 7 here: Pattern 7 PDF
In this video, Rowan was a bit spooky about the FBM side because the wind was blowing the bush, so I switched onto the outside when leading down that side to give her confidence.”

Pattern 8
View or download pattern 8 here: Pattern 8 PDF
This is the final Pattern in Stage 1 and it includes all of the exercises you’ve taught your horse in this course so far!
“You can see in this video that, because I’d just been working on backing off the pedestal in a previous session, that Rowan expected to do that when she stood on the pedestal and it took a few moments to explain to her to stand still on it again!”

Module 3 - Stage 2 and Beyond

As you move up into trot with your horse, we want all the same things we’ve worked on in walk – soft relaxation yet eager to go forwards and a lovely stretch down and forwards to start. In these videos, you’ll meet a range of horses working on different elements of the trot.

Leg yield is the first of the lateral movements we’ll teach in this course. This should be a natural and easy progression from the exercises you’ve already done with your horse. It begins with a clear explanation of exactly what leg yield is and what you’re looking for from your horse, before showing you all of the steps to train it.

Part 1 covers:
> The leg yield pole set-up
> Introducing it to your horse
> Fixing trailing quarters – bringing your horse’s attention to their hind legs

Part 2 covers:
> Clarifying your cues and communication in leg yield
> Using your external cues and balancing your horse
> Using your internal cues such as your focus, breath and rhythm to help your horse
> Building more duration and precision in leg yield

The second lateral exercise we’ll teach is shoulder-in. This is a great exercise for improving strength, suppleness and engagement in your horse and, again, it should be a gentle and natural progression from the exercises we’ve already done. These videos begin with a clear explanation of exactly what you’re looking for from your horse and then show you how to train it.
Part 1 covers:
> What shoulder-in is
> Using objects to set your horse up for success
> Introducing it to 3 different horses, using both the target and on a rope

Part 2 covers:
> Getting more duration in the shoulder-in
> Working on both the circle and the straight line
> Moving on from using the objects to set it up for your horse

This video covers some more advanced pole exercises, building on the polework from Stage 1. It also covers introducing trotting over poles to your horse.

Pole Exercises Download
Never lack for inspiration on pole exercises and layouts! This PDF has loads of different pole exercises for you to try with your horse. Download it here: Pole Exercises

There are also some great pole exercises and ideas in this Inside Track: Christmas Tree Poles

By this stage, your horse should be fairly consistent in both collecting and extending the walk to some degree and be happy going forwards into a relaxed, stretched trot. At this stage you can begin shaping engagement in the trot, too. In some ways this is easier than the walk because it is clearer for both of you when the trot changes. However, it’s also a little trickier because everything happens so much faster. I find that training this on the lunge or around a round pen works best.

In these videos, you’ll find a few different approaches to shaping engagement in trot that I’ve used with my horses. You can experiment with your horse to find the most effective technique for you.

These videos show some more advanced exercises you can move onto with the pedestal, mat and other objects once your horse is confident with the exercises at stage 1.

Progressing with Pedestals and Mats covers:
> Working with smaller and/or higher pedestals
> Hind feet on pedestals and boards
> Hind feet onto mat (with CT Coach Venya Bonebakker)
> Cardboard box for feet awareness (with CT Coach Suzy Deurinck
> Using a mattress, including rock backs and quarters over on a soft surface

Backing Off and Onto a Pedestal
This exercise takes a great deal of confidence, trust and feet awareness. It’s very beneficial for all horses, but is necessary for horses who have to back off or out of trailers. You can see me teaching Rowan this exercise in this video. She picks it up quickly, though the hind legs prove a little tricky. Thanks to all the preparatory work in stage 1, we progress through this fairly easily, which is incredible considering Rowan used to be terrified of anything behind her or near her hind legs!

These videos progress with your training outside of the arena.
Video 2.1 covers working with steeper slopes, ditches and banks.
Video 2.2 covers working in trot on a slope, both balancing and collecting your horse in trot and working with poles on a slope.

The next isolation we teach is hip targeting. This is quarters over, but instead of your horse moving his hind quarters away from you, he’ll be moving them towards you. This takes more awareness and control and builds into lateral movements such as haunches-in and half pass.
In these videos, you’ll learn 5 different ways to teach hip targeting. Different approaches will suit different people and horses. I have taught hip targeting successfully with all of them, so take your pick! The 5 techniques are:

Hip Targeting Transfer from Quarters Over
This technique involves using 2 people as you transfer the cue from quarters over to hip targeting. It took a little time for Rowan to understand what we were asking, but once she understood, she knew exactly what we were asking for. It was a very clean and simple way to get great quality hip targeting easily.

Hip Targeting with a Rope
This approach can be done with just one person and is very easy for horses to learn. As long as your horse is relaxed and confident about following the feel of a rope, it’s a great technique to use.

Hip Targeting with a Target
This is the same approach as using a rope, only instead of the horse following the feel of the rope, they follow a target instead. This can work really well for some horses, but I find is more confusing for the horses that either of the above techniques, so it can take a bit more time for the horse to understand what you’re asking.

Hip Targeting from Scratching and Freeshaping
If your horse enjoys hip, tail or hind leg scratches, this can be a lovely relaxed way to teach hip targeting. Freeshaping involves letting the horse work out out to target your hand with his hip. For horses who are confident problem-solvers, this can be a fun game, though it tends to take a little longer than the other approaches. Also, many horses find this approach quite challenging.

The next lateral exercise we’ll teach is haunches-in (also known as travers). This exercises uses hip targeting to explain the movement to your horse.
Part 1 covers introducing the exercise to your horse.
Part 2 covers improving the bend and building duration.

Training a calm, balanced canter can be more complex than it first appears and many people struggle with emotional and physical issues in the canter such as reluctance to pick up the canter, rushing in canter, incorrect leads, bucking in canter and losing balance on circles and corners.

In these videos, you’ll learn more about the overview of canter and how to introduce it to your horse on the lunge until you can get a calm, balanced canter from your horse.

1. An Introduction to Canter
Hannah explains exactly why so many people struggle with the canter and the process you should follow to help your horse learn to canter in balance and relaxation.

2.  Getting the Canter
If your horse has never cantered when you ask before, how do you even explain to them what you want them to do? This video covers those very first steps of initiating the canter and getting a transition up to canter from trot while on the lunge.

3. Building Duration and Balance
Once your horse understands the concept of transitioning up into a canter, you need to help them build the balance and strength to be able to canter a circle and maintain a rhythm. This video shows you how to do that, including footage of Hannah’s mare, India, who is naturally long-backed and on the forehand, showing how you can use the target in canter to help your horse engage his hindquarters and lighten through the shoulders. This is great preparation for being able to carry a rider easily and soundly in canter.

An extra groundwork exercise that can be fun and useful to train your horse is long-reining. Long-reining is a great exercise to prepare your horse for riding and I use it as a ‘riding from the ground’ exercise when I’m starting or re-starting horses under saddle. I begin training this with short-reins, which simply means that I’m walking beside the horse with reins, rather than behind him in the traditional long-reining position. By starting at the horse’s shoulder instead of directly behind them, it will make the transition easier for your horse from leading to long-reining.

Riding From the Ground
From this video, you will introduce the concept of short-reining to your horse and teach him to respond to walk on and halt cues from the short-reining position.
Lateral Flexions with Reins
Building from the lateral flexions exercises you’ve taught your horse already, you can also teach them from the rein cues, which includes teaching your horse to turn his head away from you as well as towards you.
Short Reining Parts 1 and 2
Combining all of these cues for walk on, halt and flexions, you will be able to teach your horse to steer softly and easily from the short reins.
Moving into Long-Reining
Now you are ready to move from short-reining to long-reining from behind! This video shows you how to progressively change your position and long-rein your horse around an obstacle course. You now have walk, halt and turn softly and easily in the long-reining position and are ready to progress in whichever direction you choose.

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