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Why Groundwork? Part 2 - Foundation Groundwork

Most horse advertisements include good to load, shoe, clip etc, all groundwork skills that have nothing to do with riding. Why? Because these are fundamental skills that make your day to day life with your horse so much easier 😇

In Why Groundwork? Part 1 I looked at the different categories of groundwork

Category 1 - Foundation Groundwork 🔤

Category 2 - Fitness & Function Groundwork 💪

Category 3 - Performance Groundwork 💃

In this blog, I’d like to look more closely at Category 1️⃣ ....

Foundation Groundwork 🔠

This is the basic communication and skills that every horse needs to be easy for everyone to handle. It includes leading, loading, farrier, vet and clipping prep as well as basic communication.

By learning to move your horse around you it gives you the basis for the other categories by teaching basic lunging and early loose schooling or liberty.

This is probably the least glamorous of the categories but the one that influences our day to day life with our horses the most.

On a daily basis you will probably need to

  • lead your horse to/from the field

  • pick out his feet

  • brush him

  • tack him up

  • lead him to the arena

  • mount him

  • deal with scary objects or situations either in the arena or out on a hack

If you have difficulty with any of these, Foundation Groundwork can teach you what to do to resolve the problem.

Added to that if your horse doesn’t load, clip, stand for the vet/farrier or is tricky to ride in any way, assuming these are not because of pain, foundation groundwork will give you the techniques you need.

Foundation groundwork will also train you to be more aware of your horses emotions i.e. is he acting like that because he’s scared or because he is confident. This means that you can tailor your training approach to your horses needs.

Young horses 👶

Foundation groundwork is invaluable for young horses to teach them everything they will need to know to get on well in life and can start as early as a few months old for things like basic leading, handling, needle and farrier prep.

Foundation trainers often specialise in putting the first few rides on young horses as so many of these techniques can translate to teaching the horse to be calm and confident for riding.

Challenging horses, horses with problems 🐎

Because of it’s focus on the horses state of mind Foundation Groundwork can also be useful with Challenging horses as it’s gives a way of working with them and resolving issues without having to risk being on board. For more about challenging horses, check out my 2 part series in my blog.

Foundation groundwork can also play a part in resolving problems like spookiness, napping, bolting, bucking, refusing to jump and a range of other issues.

Rehab and horses on box rest 🤕

Although Function and Fitness groundwork probably has a bigger part to play in rehab, Foundation groundwork can play its part where horses have negative associations due to remembered pain. It can also be useful as a way of occupying a horses mind when they are on box rest.

In summary, whether you call it Foundation Groundwork, just groundwork or you have a particular method you follow, putting some time into giving your horse some of these ‘life skills’ can make yours and your horses lives run a lot smoother 😊🦄💕


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 without supervision. Riding is a high risk sport.


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