Before we get started you need to understand that each horse is an individual, they have specific abilities and limitations. Those are the guidelines that we must work within. Keeping that single, important point at the forefront will allow you to start to become more attuned to the mind of the horse. This will show the horse that you are concerned for their welfare and are following the values that are important to them. What we are building is the foundation on which you be able to properly communicate with the horse and let them know what you are asking them to perform, it might even surprise you with the results that you will receive from just asking the right way. It is what I call “Ground Control”.
Many people who have watched me and listened to my explanation of “Ground Control” feel that it is nothing more than “Ground Work”; here I strongly disagree since “ground work” has become so clouded in its real meaning. “Ground Control” in its very basic form that starts extremely slow with just a halter and a lead rope and builds the foundation of “Control From The Ground”. It is this philosophy of “control from the ground” that builds the confidence and interaction that everyone wants between themselves and the horse.
When I first started to be taught about groundwork I was told that I needed to learn what “Feel” was. The only problem was that no one took the time to explain what “feel” was and how to find it, after much time and misunderstanding I started to develop a “Touch” for the horse. I determined that there was a “Good Touch” and that there was a “Bad Touch”. There was also a “Light Touch” and there was a Heavy Touch”. I found that horses responded to a “Light Touch” and a “Good Touch” better than a “Heavy Touch” or a “Bad Touch”, so I started to develop the use of a “Good Light Touch” and the horses responded quickly and readily. This later was shortened to “Being Light” since I discovered that was as close to natural as I could get.
Inside of each horse there are two natural and already developed abilities that are known as “Being Light” and “Collection”. The ability of “Being Light,” allows the horse to be responsive in a positive manner. “Collection” allows the horse to make maximum use of their body so that they can be as athletic as possible. I will take the time to cover each of these individually and give you the opportunity to understand how it affects your ability to relate to the horse.
Many people have said that they have heard of these terms, but the truth be known is that most people have little to no understanding of what these abilities are or how to have the horse accomplish them when working with a handler. I have also seen the same people start to explain these two subjects and relate that they can only be taught while on the back of a horse. But, the truth of the matter is, the problem does not lie in the horse it lays within the handler on the ground, therefore there will never be the interaction that is necessary when the handler becomes the rider. Your understanding of these two abilities must start on the ground before you even attempt to put them into practice while on the horse’s back. Failure to properly learn and understand the techniques of these two abilities of the horse will lead you down a path that will result in misunderstanding from the rider to the horse and the horse to the rider.
By Bob Burdekin
My work with horses and owners is dedicated to the thousands of horses that I have had the distinct pleasure to meet, learn from and allowed into their lives. That acceptance has given me the insight that is necessary for the understanding of their world and how I had to alter my thoughts and actions to become the same as theirs. These horses started out as my clients, became my friends, then my teachers and finally my mentors. For that I am forever grateful. Learn more about Bob and subscribe to his blog at http://www.BobBurdekin.com