In the last few months I've been commenting that I feel as though my groundwork education is not as good as it should be. I have a lot of riding experience but haven't ever worked with an instructor who has emphasized groundwork. Shortly after I said that, I came across a one day "Fundamentals"clinic. After doing some Facebook stalking I contacted the person who was putting it on (KH), to confirm that it would be appropriate for an almost 2 year old. When I got the confirmation from her I made an uncharacteristic move and signed up.
Today was the day, and I wasn't sure what to expect. The baby girl loaded like a champ and traveled quietly on the hour long trip. She came off the trailer ready to go! We started with leading and moved on from there. We touched on a lot of different things and now I have a lot of homework to perfect. Regarding leading, KH said that the horse should stay behind you. If you watch horses in the field there is always a leader. When their head is in front of us they see themselves as the leader. Emi was definitely thinking she'd be the leader and was trying to catch up to all of the other horses. I had to keep after her but she slowly got better. We added halting and backing before moving to yielding the forehand and haunches. We did this both with and with out touching them.
We moved on to desensitizing them through flopping the rope up and over their back then down on to the ground and back on them. Emi started off a little bit concerned but by the time we were done she had a hoof rested and was totally chilling. We also worked on being able to send the horse out around us and then over something. Emi was pretty good about going over the step. The first couple of times she wanted to run her shoulders in towards me to avoid it. I asked her to yield her shoulders each time she came in to me and once I got her straightened out she went over it pretty easily.
The final thing we did was introduce them to a scary object. When she pulled out this ball I knew it wouldn't be problem. We started with the handler pushing the ball away and using the horses natural curiosity to get them over being scared. Emi was just flat out curious and she was having a great time following the ball around. She even tried to get her leg up on it. We finished up the clinic on that note and headed home.
The clinic ran from about 9am to 2pm (with a 30 minute break for lunch). I wasn't sure how Emi would handle such a long session but she didn't have a problem. She wasn't "working" that whole time as we were watching others do various exercises and listening to KH, but it was still a long time and a lot of new stuff. She relaxed a lot as the day went on and performed just as well (if not better) than a lot of the older horses. KH also commented that she has a lot of "try" and that will help me a lot as I continue her training. Another successful outing is in the books.
There are more photos on Emi's facebook page.