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Groundwork for Young Horses

Groundwork at it’s most basic teaching a horse to move forward, backward, turn his hindquarters and his front end and (once these are in place) go sideways. These really basic skills help make your horse more manoeuvrable and also prepare him for similar requests ridden.

With these in place it is much easier to ask for other skills such as lining up to the mounting block or walking over a strange object, like a pole 😱

You can also teach your horse to go out and around you in preparation for lunging and teach them to walk ahead of you in preparation for long reining.

Lunging and long reining really come into their own when getting a young horse ready to ride. At this point it’s worth mentioning that too many circles particularly tight ones are not good for a young horses overall development so be conservative about how much lunging you do. If in doubt, as always, consult with your vet.

That said, good lunging is great for developing fitness ready for riding. It’s also great for getting used to saddle and bridle. Carrying the saddle can be built up in stages...

✅ carry a roller ✅ roller and pad ✅ saddle ✅ saddle with stirrups

N/B I always get my youngsters used to having the stirrups up and down. It’s great way for them to get used to something banging around up there and your legs will be there soon so its nice to know they’re prepared!!!

Long reining, especially in a straight line is fabulous for getting your young horse more used to going out in front rather than following someone in front. This is vitally important for riding as you won’t be on the ground anymore you are sitting behind their head. I always say, Long Reining is about as close as you’ll get to riding without being on your horses back!

As with Basic Life Skills, good Groundwork will set your horse up really well for the future and make your first rides much more pleasurable as your horse will have a good idea what’s expected.


Before trying any training technique it is important to rule out pain or discomfort. Saddle fit, teeth, back, hoof balance and lameness issues should all be checked by a qualified professional before applying any training.

If you have questions or need idea's to help with a specific problem feel free to get in touch with me on


Lyla has been helping riders and their horses in the UK, USA and Europe for over 15 years. She has prepared horses for crowds of over 6,000 people with no calmers or ear plugs for venues including Birmingham NEC, Aintree, Bury Farm EC and Hartpury.

Lyla specialises in horse psychology and behaviour problems with a specific interest in dressage and has worked with horses from grass roots to Grand Prix across the UK and Europe including international competitors and Olympians from Spain, the US, Canada and the UK.

See or email for more details.


All training techniques discussed are from experience only, it is impossible for to accurately advise on horse/rider combinations without seeing them live. Lyla Cansfield & Equine Mind & Body Training strongly advise anyone considering using any of the techniques discussed to get live help and can take no responsibility for the outcome of applying any of the techniques discussed with or without supervision. Riding is a high risk sport.


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