Your 3 yr. old (cont.): Tips for Ground Training, by Jackie Brittain

Jackie and Kona restingNow that you have started to ride your three year old you will realize the transition that exists between the ground training to the training under saddle.

As riders we think that time in the saddle and “putting in the miles” in the saddle is the key to training a horse. It could not be further from the truth and we all seem to find this out by returning to the basics.

Issues in the saddle usually originate from issues that were not resolved in early ground work. That is why it is crucial to return as often as possible to the ground and find those braces and why that hip does not yield.

Balance is the key to having your horse use itself equally and will insure a sound horse. You can discover your horses weaknesses and build up strength through ground exercises as well as in the saddle.

Lucky and Ray Berta

Also, by working on the ground you can connect with your horse in a way that the conversation is continued as you step up to the saddle. The message the rein gives on the ground should be the same in the saddle.

It is completely normal to find a brace against a rein. It could be due to many things and some braces are stronger than others. It could be physical and it could be an evasive action.

Relaxation is the key to remove the brace since most come from tension. Try to examine the source of the tension and see if you can overcome it through ground exercises that support suppleness.

Honey and JackieMany times we feel that the horse’s neck is bending to the left yet the horse is thinking right or away. First of all we need the ear. Sometimes a soft scratching or rub on the neck or shoulder brings a little tip of the ear your direction. Next comes the eye and then the head turns or bends towards you. Now you have the attention of the horse, it is time to make your request.

Taking a step back is sometimes the best remedy. Always, do an inventory of your horses ground skills. It can be the best explanation for issues in the saddle.


Jackie Brittain
Merriewold Morgans Trainer