Ground work is not a completely unknown to me. I have spent time working my horses from the ground (especially the babies). Usually this ground time is broken up by time on my horse’s back riding down the trail, working in the arena, working cows or teaching lessons (yes,I teach horseback). So why am I on the ground? I have been sentenced to 30+ days of groundwork.
Last week, we hosted 2, three day clinics here at Western Pleasure Guest Ranch with Dale Cunningham a Clinton Anderson certified clinician. The participants in the first three day clinic were the WPGR wranglers plus the bosses (mom and dad). The second three day clinic were other folks interested in the Clinton Anderson Method. We start most all of our own horses here and we have a system that we think works pretty well. So why get into this Clinton Anderson thing? Well, the main reason is because we felt that the ground work portion of our training program was lacking. So, with the help of a friend, went in search of a Clinton Anderson certified clinician and we found Dale Cunningham.
I used my three year old gelding, Zeus who I put 40 rides on last year, as my clinic horse. Zeus might be 14 hands tall if he stands on his tippy toes, is very athletic and very reactive. Lets just say he thinks something is hiding behind every corner ready to eat him. What, you may ask, is he afraid of? Horse eating buckets, horse eating water bottles, horse eating horses, horse eating ropes, horse eating bags, horse eating people, horse eating barns, horse eating saddle bags, horse eating dogs, anything that makes a crinkly noise is also obviously looking to eat a horse. I figured that this clinic would be the perfect opportunity to put some concentrated time into Zeus.
It really was a great three days. I learned a lot about the groundwork portion of the Clinton Anderson Fundamentals. I think that the groundwork portion of this method uses good solid principals based on a correct assessment of horse psychology. I don’t have the same opinion of the riding portion of Clinton’s method, but the groundwork I think is solid.
So why am I grounded? Dale officially labelled Zeus a fruitcake (although I already knew that) and gave me homework of 30 days of groundwork only. Ugh! So here I stand 1 to 2 hours a day swinging a stick around and looking for ways to give my horse a heart attack. My goal in all of this is that I spend so much time desensitizing Zeus that by the end of these 30 days he will have run out of things to be scared of. Also, I am going to have some buff arms…
Stay tuned for the results of my 30 days of homework and my updates here along the way.
The following photos are of days 8 and 9 of my 30 day challenge.