Optimize Your Groundwork Series – Stop and Leading Exercise!

Optimize Your Groundwork Overview

A step by step process to achieving basic to advanced groundwork with your horse using natural methods


By Lana Grieve

Over the years, I’ve developed my own natural horsemanship-based methods for training my own horses at home.

As a do-it-yourself Amateur, I trained my yearling APHA filly Only By Grace, and together, we won a world championship in Yearling In-Hand Trail and third in Amateur Solid Paint-Bred Showmanship at the 2013 APHA World Championship Show.

Here are a few tips I’ve developed for groundwork success:

Training Intro

Primarily, I use my own version of natural horsemanship methods to heighten the response level of my horses.

Every training session starts with a training stick and a pressure-point halter—preferably, a rope halter with four knots on the nose band.

I like using these halters initially instead of a chain; I’ll often add the chain later when the horse understands the concept of giving to pressure at the poll.

The training stick is an extension of my arm to enhance early training.

Stopping & Leading Exercise

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When I school any horse of any age, the first thing I teach them is to stop and back while I stay in the leading position.

I start by holding the stick in my left hand, leading the horse in the traditional way from the left side.

If I stop and the horse continues to walk past me, I immediately bump the halter down toward the horse’s chest to encourage him to back up, keeping my body in the traditional leading position without facing the horse.

I begin to back up a step or two while encouraging the horse to back up with the halter. After the horse responds by stepping backward, I stop and repeat.

If the horse becomes stiff and doesn’t want to back up, I then bring the stick in front of my body and tap the horse’s chest while backing up and bumping the halter.

Don’t worry about how straight the horse backs up at first; I only want backward motion at this point. Horses seem to grasp this concept very quickly.

I school the same drill at the jog once the horse is proficient at the walk-and-stop exercise.

Coming up in the next blog; The Hindquarters Exercise with Hindquarter control and backing.

This exercise is taken directly from ‘Optimize Your Groundwork 101‘ full course in horsegirl.me


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I’m Jen.

Most days you will find me with a coffee in one hand, hot pink manure pick in the other with my mind bubbling over dreaming up ways to help my horse girl sisters find their true selves & ride their best life every. single. day.


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