1 Essential Exercise you need to teach your horse for safety and rapport

Zoe Ground tie

In the last post, you learned to enter into the horses’ world, by sharing territory (aka Doing Nothing) and by greeting the horses in a respectful way. 

This week, we will ask the horse to show some respect. 

We will do this with the “Ground Tie”.

According to “Talking to Horses”,

Ground tying is when a horse stands in the place you ask him to stand without being tied to anything and he doesn’t move away.

It is an exercise I teach every horse I train and it can be an important part of building our relationship together.  Some people say it shows obedience, however, I prefer to think of it in terms of us developing an understanding, learning to speak the same language, and creating a bond where we understand each other.

When a horse learns to ground tie it tells me we have learned to communicate and developed a mutual trust and respect.  I feel at this point we have developed a sincere bond where my horse is comfortable to be in a place of peace while patiently standing.

Sarah King, January 2020

In fact, you should probably read Sarah´s post, it is a wonderfully detailed explanation of the Ground Tie. I couldn´t do any better!

Or, you could also watch this video, made by our Certified Facilitator Lotta in Germany:

Yogui, the gelding in the video is an ADHD horse, and this exercise comes very handy for him. Notice how calm and interested he looks once he does actually stay? It is also training for me: patience, assertiveness, clear boundaries, goal orientation, attention. I will call it my ?3-Minute Reflex Workout ?‍♀️ and Mindfulness Practice.

OK, so now you know how to teach the Ground Tie, but you don´t know why, yet. 

Contrary to Sarah King, I teach the Ground Tie to my rescued horses (age 1+) at the beginning of their trainig. Through the Ground Tie, a horse will learn to stand still, it will learn to trust, to listen, to be attentive, to be brave and respectful. 

And if anything goes wrong, it can run away until it feels safe again. 

I handle my horses in closed pastures or paddocks until I can trust they will not shy away. Until then, it is absolutely unnecessary to tie a horse to something solid:

In my experience, no fence is solid enough to hold a panicking horse. At least not in Ecuador! And if there were, the halter would brake and the horse would run free, or it would get seriously injured. 

None of the above is acceptable to me. If a Ground Tie breaks, the horse runs away with a halter and rope, just to be brought back to teh exact same spot it got away from. No drama involved, nothing broke, no added fear. 

When teaching the Ground Tie, I will give my horse a lot of undivided time. I will learn about his attention span, his fear, and his frustration tolerance. We will lay a foundation of non-violent education, based on persevering calmy and giving very clear instructions. The horse will be placed EXACTLY where it was before, every step will be corrected. I will learn to anticipate his movements, and he will learn to listen closely. 

The horse will become aware of his four legs and of my body language. 

He will be safer to handle, more respectful, more disciplined.

Give it a try, and don´t give up too soon.

The first session can be frustrating and you should not expect too much. A couple of seconds, while you are only a meter away, is just fine! Stop on a good note, and increase difficulty gradually. Have fun and comment with your success story!

With care for you & your horses,

Christina