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Dressage groundwork?

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  • Dressage groundwork?

    So just about as I was about to start introducing dressage concepts to my horse and I ended up fracturing my ankle. I would hate to let him sit without riding until I'm healed especially with cold weather approaching. Does anyone have any groundwork exercises to help set the foundation for dressage from the ground? Also any that will help build muscle? And of course, any equipment needed.

    Some back ground on the horse. He is a 10 year 16hh belgian/QH cross. Before getting him, he had training in reining and some dressage but none actually taught properly. I just taught him how to frame and we are now working on muscle to actually be able to hold it.

    Thank you!

  • #2
    Yes, you can do flexions in hand and teach turn on the forehand, turn on the haunches, leg yield, shoulder-in, rein-back, and even half steps and piaffe, depending on how advanced you go. Various lunging, long-reining and cavaletti too; not sure what restrictions you would have with the ankle. All of these will increase strength and suppleness.

    You can do a lot of this with just a dressage whip and your normal snaffle bridle, though I prefer a lightweight cavesson and a slightly longer in-hand whip. I'm personally not a big fan of side reins for lunging, but others have good results using them, and of course you'd need a surcingle or saddle to attach them to.

    The frame should come from the muscling, not teaching a pose and then building muscle to hold it.

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    • #3
      We've been lunging with the bands to help strengthen, cavalletti, backing up hills, in hand side pass or something like it (he likes to come forward instead of carry weight on his back end.)

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      • #4
        Originally posted by outerbanks77 View Post
        Yes, you can do flexions in hand and teach turn on the forehand, turn on the haunches, leg yield, shoulder-in, rein-back, and even half steps and piaffe, depending on how advanced you go.
        Outerbanks gave some excellent advice. Traditionally, work in hand is a crucial part of dressage training and is used at all stages of training. It is THE groundwork for dressage! It's truly underutilized but it's not always easy to find someone to teach it. Since you are retraining him it could be a useful technique to introduce dressage concepts. With basic in-hand work you can improve any horse's self carriage, responsiveness to the aids, and fine tune biomechanics, although you'll need to find proper instruction which may be a barrier. I also found that when I broke my foot I could ride more easily than I could do ground work with my horse, as not only was it not very easy or safe but your posture and the rhythm of your own steps influences the horse in this sort of work.

        If you can find it I highly recommend watching Bettina Drummond's Work in Hand DVD. You will learn far more than just the practical aspects and technique, including a great deal about biomechanics and temperament.

        Here are a couple of introductory articles, too: https://www.manolomendezdressage.com...ine-larrouilh/
        http://www.naturaldressage.com/2012/01/2-article/

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        • #5
          Any ground work training in any discipline is of great value. As Levitate mentioned most traditional dressage training starts in hand and on the longe. It will also give you a chance to bond with your horse and teach manners.
          Groom to trainer: "Where's the glamour? You promised me glamour!"

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          • #6
            I have a soft spot for QH/Belgian crosses- my 1st 'good' horse was a 16h QH/Belgian!

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            • #7
              There's tons of great dressage groundwork but, like Levitate says, it'll be harder for you to do groundwork than ride with a fractured ankle. Unless you have super tight footing, I'd avoid walking in an arena. Heal quickly!

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              • #8
                As others have said, groundwork is great--but, horses are quick, and with a broken ankle, you will not be! Just coming off a broken knee myself, I almost got wiped out by a horse I was lunging a little before I should have been. He spooked at something while I was holding him, and all I could do was duck! Be patient. You will heal, and your horse will be waiting for you when you do...

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                • #9
                  As others have said, groundwork is great! But it will depend on what YOU can do. And do safely. See dressagegirl123.

                  Having just let horse sit while *I* healed, I will suggest that the horse doesn't lose the knowledge, only the fitness, and that's not that difficult to get back. Just give it time because YOU will need it, too! The plus is that there is time away from "wear and tear".on the joints.

                  Seriously, a X-month time off in your horse's career isn't a big deal in the span of its lifetimel

                  If you feel up to it (WHEN you feel up to it after a break), teach your horse to yield the hind end and forehand away from pressure, and when your horse understands, teach you horse to move sideways (horse must learn to integrate what will be your inside leg and rein). teach your horse to move forward on the longe line and understand verbal cues. OR, teach you horse learning things (like how to put a foot on a cue) and other fun things that build confidence from listening to you and understanding new things. This is a great opportunity for you to teach your horse mental concepts, and later translate those concepts to fitness ideas in normal under-saddle schooling. Many horses enjoy the mental work and will remember it later.

                  Heal well!!
                  Proud member of the Colbert Dressage Nation

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