Young Horse Groundwork

with Raffles

3 year old Raffles is ready to start his education – from scratch! This program combining, groundwork, lunge and liberty, will teach you how to build a solid foundation in preparation for backing. Follow each season and learn how to produce a relaxed, confident equine partner who enjoys working with you.

Young Horse Groundwork

with Raffles

3 year old Raffles is starting his education. Follow each season and learn to build a solid foundation.

Start your adventure here!

Spring Season

Raffles has just arrived - fresh out of the packet! We start by building rapport, and learning how to safely deal with spooky situations. We then introduce 'hand signals' ready for lunge work.

Download our quick reference cards for each lesson to keep you and your horse on track!

Spring 1A
Spring: Lesson 1

Clear Communication

  • Building rapport
  • communication
  • Using rewards
  • Positive reinforcement
  • Bolshy behaviour
  • Foundation for lunge work

Learn how to communicate with your horse with this fun 'targeting' exercise.

How many times have you heard someone say ‘oh if only my horse could talk’! We might not be able to train your horse to say words but that doesn’t mean we can’t develop a language. So how do we do this? Well it starts with this fun simple ‘targeting’ exercise.

In this lesson we will teach Raffles how to 'target' a disk while safely behind the stable door. This exercise underpins our entire approach: to communicate clearly and effectively with your horse. Some people get a bit twitchy about using food as a reward as they are worried it might encourage bolshy behaviour. But this exercise trains the exact opposite! You will see that by only rewarding the behaviour that you want, your horse will quickly learn to eliminate unwanted behaviour. So your horse becomes respectful of your space, easy to handle and safe to manage.

Spring 2A
Spring: Lesson 2

Horse 'Self-management'

  • Hand signals
  • Head down
  • Relaxation
  • Spookiness
  • Parasympathetic state
  • Horse self-management
  • Real life demonstration

Build in a 'reset button' to teach your horse to stay calm in any situation!

In the previous video Raffles learned to put his head down and touch a target on the ground. Next comes the clever part - we ‘overlay’ a hand signal so he learns when we point downwards, he puts head down. This is our cue to help him to 'reset' and stay calm.

This lesson is a real life demonstration of how brilliantly this works in practice. When a horse is frightened they are in ‘flight mode’ – blood rushes to the muscles, the back contracts, pupils are dilated and the head is raised. When a horse is calm it’s the opposite. They are in parasympathetic state - the back is un-contracted, eyes are soft and the head is down. By training them to put their head down we are helping them to stay in control. Instead of running away they have another option - put their head down, relax and learn better horse ‘self-management’.

Spring 3A
Spring: Lesson 3

Lunge Hand Signals

  • Introducing lungework
  • Hand signals
  • Body language
  • Clear communication
  • Instant accurate feedback

You and your horse will learn to read 'hand signals' ready for lunge work.

In the first part of this lesson we use the target to teach Raffles the hand signal or 'cue' for lunge work. As we progress we then use the target to ‘lure’ him around a circle - just a few steps at first, then we slowly up the criteria as we progress to full circles. By reading our clear body language, clever Raffles is beginning to understand how to lunge.

By now you should be starting to see this program is more than a training system - it is a language. The 'TSK' sound is way of saying ‘Yes! that is what I want’. When you then add a combination of body language and hand signals or ‘cues’ we can communicate clearly with our horse, and give them instant accurate feedback. BTW… the reason we use this TSK sound is because it is short and sharp and importantly it is non emotional - it’s actually really hard to make it sound happy... or sad, so the sound you make is always consistent to your horse.

Spring 4A
Spring: Lesson 4

The Language of Lunge

  • Clear consistant cues
  • Thinking in pictures,
  • Flight animals
  • Energy control
  • Stop and go cues
  • Hind quarter yield

Learn to control your body language and energy to communicate aids.

Horses ‘think in pictures’. In this lesson we lose the target, but the picture stays the same, with our arm pointing out 'like we’re directing traffic' in the direction we want Raffles to move in. Horses are acutely aware of other animals' body language, including us humans!

When we stand tall like a solider and take a breath in - we bring our energy up. If we relax, go all slouchy and exhale - we bring our energy down. Horses pick up on this and you will already instinctively adjust your energy around your horse without even realising it! As we progress we will switch our energy 'on and off' as an additional 'cue'. To go forward, we stand tall, breathe in - energy up. To stop we make ourselves smaller, exhale - energy down. At this point we will look for the inside hind leg to step under as the horse turns in and stops. This is a ‘hind quarter yield’ which you will see we'll be using a lot in this program.

Downloadable Quick-Reference Cards

Lesson:Clear Communication

Start by training your horse to ‘target’ over the stable door. Allow your horse to touch the cone with their nose - ‘tsk’ & reward.
Stand approximately 2m away with your arm outstretched - ‘tsk’ & reward when your horse touches the target ‘like a button’.
Once consistent, move your arm to your right side, and then your left side. Repeat each side 3 or 4 times.
Next stand your horse on the yard or the arena. Place the target on the ground where your horse can easily see it.
As your horse puts their head down towards the target, point downwards to overlay your hand cue - ‘tsk’ & reward as they touch the target.
REMEMBER:
Your horse is only allowed to touch the target - there is no reward for touching you! This will teach your horse to respect your boundaries.

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Each season will be added as we progress in real-time through the year. The complete program will be available to buy at the end of the year. Meanwhile you can join our membership to get access to the lessons which are already live. Enjoy!

Lesson:Light Transitions

Start by increasing the size of your ‘safe zone’ adding a 3rd cone to the previous triangle set up. You will now be working on a circle.
Lead your horse around the circle using a clear signal for ‘go’ - rope arm outstretched forward. If your horse doesn’t tap behind you with the whip.
To ‘whoa’ - bring your energy up and stop abruptly at the marker like a soldier. Each time you cue your horse to ‘go’ and to ‘whoa’ - ‘tsk’ and reward.
If your horse doesn’t stop, use the whip like a window wiper to block them. Repeat the lesson on both reins.
To change rein, ‘turn about the fore’. Move between the fence and your horse. Point the whip at the hind, and step the hind around to turn 180 degrees.
REMEMBER:
The aim is to train your horse to mirror your body language to keep their focus on you and to achieve ‘lightness’.

Lesson:Light Transitions

Start by increasing the size of your ‘safe zone’ adding a 3rd cone to the previous triangle set up. You will now be working on a circle.
Lead your horse around the circle using a clear signal for ‘go’ - rope arm outstretched forward. If your horse doesn’t tap behind you with the whip.
To ‘whoa’ - bring your energy up and stop abruptly at the marker like a soldier. Each time you cue your horse to ‘go’ and to ‘whoa’ - ‘tsk’ and reward.
If your horse doesn’t stop, use the whip like a window wiper to block them. Repeat the lesson on both reins.
To change rein, ‘turn about the fore’. Move between the fence and your horse. Point the whip at the hind, and step the hind around to turn 180 degrees.
REMEMBER:
The aim is to train your horse to mirror your body language to keep their focus on you and to achieve ‘lightness’.

Lesson:Corkscrew Pattern

First remind your horse where they need to halt, at the 1st marker at one end of the arena - ‘tsk and reward. Then start in trot on the lunge.
As your horse approaches the 1st marker, bring your energy down - ‘tsk’ the moment your horse’s feet touch the track at the marker. Halt and reward.
Next, using your clear consistent cues, walk to the next marker and halt again - ‘tsk’ and reward. Then trot a 20m circle and repeat the step above.
Continue working your way up, and back down the arena. Notice how your horse starts ‘seeking’ out the markers. Repeat on both reins.
This pattern will help your horse learn to stay out on the track, and it will also help them feel con fi dent working around the whole arena.
REMEMBER:
If your horse is feeling fresh or fi dgety, they may need to do some trot before you start adding in the halts in this lesson.

Lesson:Shoulder Control

Stand facing your horse, pointing the whip at the shoulder. Open your ‘rope hand’ and tap the shoulder to ‘yield’ one step sideways - ‘tsk’ and reward.
Next, build up the steps turning your horse’s shoulders around the hind. Walk away on a circle to allow time to relax and ‘process’. Repeat on both reins.
Next, set out ‘chevron’ poles with approx 2m gap in between. If your horse has never seen poles before, use ‘targeting’ (Spring season) to familiarise.
Start on a large circle, then walk your horse between the poles to the mid point - then halt using the whip to block, like a ‘window wiper’.
Next, step in front to face your horse and ‘yield’ the shoulder (as learned previously) to turn the corner - then depart. Repeat on both reins.
REMEMBER:
There is a famous saying; ‘To control the shoulders, is to control the horse’. This is a hugely important lesson for your horse to learn.

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