How can you experience the benefits of connecting with your horse without adding a new training routine? You can improve connection with your horse by simply grooming your horse which is something you should do every time you ride. Grooming is part of groundwork which translates to better communication from the saddle.
Every Rider Should Learn How to Groom a Horse
Every horse rider should learn how to groom the horse he or she rides. So much is missed by having the horse groomed and tacked up for you. My estimation is that horsemanship is about 75% ground work (grooming, feeding, mucking, leading etc.) and 25% saddle time.
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Insist on grooming and tacking up the horse you ride to really understand how to connect with that horse from its back. Grooming is one aspect of groundwork that translates to saddle time. For example, every push on your horse to move its hindquarters or body to make way for you, is reinforcing the training of moving away from pressure.
Connecting with Your Horse
Hands-on horse riders spend a lot of time on the ground with their horses. Grooming, leading, cleaning up horse manure, feeding two or three times a day, lunging, round pen training, bathing, braiding for a show, even sharing heartbreak or joy . . . are all interactions taking place from the ground. This is where the real relationship with a horse is built. Connecting with your horse begins on the ground with grooming.
Riders learn what makes their horse feel good while grooming; like where the grooming sweet spots are and if there are any issues to address before getting on. Horses learn cues for moving away from pressure, and to trust the leadership of the rider/handler through ground-based activities. The more time I spend with my horse doing activities from the ground the more my horse knows my cues, and trusts my leadership. All this interaction transfers to our ride time together. In return my horse learns to read my body language – even my emotions. My horse can sense when I am happy or sad, tense or relaxed.
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Personally, I really enjoy grooming my horse and working on the connection I have with both the horses I work with. One thing I do enjoy is taking care of any issues and making sure my horse is comfortable. For example, Carrera is a horse I ride. She has really thin skin so the flies cause little patches of raw areas on her face and lower forelegs. I apply Coat Defense to those areas on her face and front legs when I groom her after a ride. Her skin is looking really good this year.
Connecting with Your Horse Without Adding a New Training Routine
Grooming the horse is something that should be done by the rider every ride. This provides the opportunity to improve the connection a rider has with a horse without adding a new training routine. Time is a precious commodity, especially for the rider who grooms and tacks up his or her own horse.
Streamlining the grooming routine helps riders develop an efficient routine without sacrificing care of their trusty steeds. Familiarity with the horse enables a rider to quickly assess any problem areas such as leg swellings, back soreness, deeps cuts or bites, and anything abnormal for that horse. Establishing a routine which includes all the important aspects of grooming keeps the needs of the horse intact while cutting down on the grooming time. This in turn provides the rider with more ride time while being a desirable riding buddy. Riding friends don’t want to wait for their buddies to tack up.
If you are already a hands-on horse rider, take advantage of grooming time to enjoy connecting with your horse. If you don’t participate in the grooming and tacking up of your ride, start tomorrow. Don’t let someone else rob you of a special connection which translates to your saddle time.
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