When people start Straightness Training or start with one of my online programs, frequently asked questions are:
- Do I need to quit riding when I start ST?
- Should I treat my horse as if I am starting my horse all over from scratch?
- Is groundwork all that you do with your horse in the first months?
- Or do people still ride during this time?
- Or would riding during slow down or even inhibit the process of building the correct muscles in groundwork?
Start with whyIn Straightness Training we always start with why. So why do we do groundwork?
We do a lot of training from the ground , because that's a perfect way to scan our horse's balance, coordination and movements.
And the better you know what to work on, what muscles need attention, what imbalance you need to address, what coordination is lacking, the better you can help your horse.
The groundwork exercises are also for building the correct muscles in order to support the rider.
So that's why we do groundwork.
Now if you need to quit riding or not depends on your personal situation.
It depends on you and your horse
Let's start with you, with your goals and your ambition. So if you are a competition rider and have upcoming competitions, or if you are a trail rider and hack out every weekend with your friends, than you need that into account when you train and prepare your horse during the week.
But it depends also on your horse. It depends on how crooked your horse is, how well developed his muscles are, how his coordination in the hind legs is.
So when you love riding but your horse is very crooked and very much out of balance, riding competition and hacking out will not give you much pleasure, if he ends up being nervous, spooky or bolting all the time and then he's very uncomfortable to ride.
So when a horse is very much out of balance in body and mind, it's wise to quit riding for a few days or even weeks or months, and the amount of time depends on the severity of the natural asymmetry and the problems that it causes.
But if your horse is not very much out of balance, but only needs some refinement and improvement, than groundwork can be of great assistance to your riding.
Here's how you can combine itYou can make your own decisions on how you want to combine the ST exercises from the ground with your riding, and you can choose what suits you and your horse best. Here are some examples:
- In cases of severe stiffness or when a horse is recovering from an injury, you can decide to start doing groundwork for a period of 3-6 months and then, when the horse is more supple and in balance, you start to ride again.
- In cases of severe riding problems (rearing, bucking, bolting), you can decide to start quit riding for a while, and to do groundwork for a couple of weeks or months and then, when the horse is more supple and in balance, you start to ride again.
- In cases of mild riding problems (taking the bit to one side, difficult to turn to one side), you can decide to start quit riding in the beginning, and to do groundwork for a period of 3-6 weeks and then, when the horse is more supple, you start to ride again.
- You can keep riding and decide to "add" groundwork in your daily training schedule. So you can decide to start every riding session with groundwork, and after 5-15 minutes you can start riding. So here you can use groundwork as your warming up.
- You can also decide to mix your sessions. So you can decide to do 2 groundwork sessions and 2 or 3 riding sessions each week. So on Tuesday and Friday you do groundwork and on Wednesday, and Saturday and Sunday you ride your horse.
- You can keep riding and decide to first teach a new exercise from the ground and once the horse understands the exercise without the additional weight, you start riding.
- with a single line (groundwork)
- on the longe line (longeing)
- with two reins (work in hand)
- and at liberty!