Thursday, December 2, 2010

Connected Groundwork

I just got the ok from my boss to adjust my work schedule from 6:00am – 3:00pm for the winter. He said since I have been flexible with him (i.e. driving his kid around) he is willing to be flexible with me. My plan is to only do this on Mondays and Fridays so I can continue to go to the gym the other 3 days of the work week. I am in the process of interviewing for other jobs right now, so I will have to enjoy this schedule change while I can. I am really looking forward to getting more daylight time with Grace during the week.

This week I went back to doing ground work with Grace. I pulled out my Peggy Cummings
Connected Groundwork book and did a few of the exercises. Every time I start doing these exercises again, I always wonder why I stop doing them. I supposed it’s much easier just to throw a saddle on and head to the arena. I seem to forget how much impact these simple exercises have on both Grace and myself.

I find the Connected Groundwork calms me; I am almost forced to get into my body and tune out the rest of the world. It’s the best form of meditation I have found! The odd thing is that in the first few minutes, Grace actually gets a little crazy. I consider her to be a very calm horse. Things that upset other horses, she will usually not even notice. Yet, she consistently acts up when we start the Connected Groundwork. Last night she was convinced that the Boogeyman was in the woods nearby just waiting to eat her. I am starting to believe that the ground work does get her to connect to her body, which may actually be a scary place for her. Her calm demeanor may be her way of checking out. Grace did settle down after a few minutes, and then seemed to really enjoy the work.

Last night we worked on exercises that we could perform in a small space, small as in under the flood light off the house. This is where I am always surprised by how well the exercises work. The movements are small, and almost seem more like body work. No one breaks a sweat, yet I see big improvements in the way we both carry ourselves when we finish.

Grace’s body has changed so much over the last year. It still baffles me that a 13 year old horse’s body can change. Her posture is nothing like it was just 2 years ago. She does not appear to even have the same conformation. I really need to get some updated pictures to illustrate what I am trying to explain here. Grace’s back is wider than it used to be, this change has occurred only in the last 6 months. Her weakest point is still the lumbosacral area, but even that has greatly improved. Her back has lifted, and ties much better into her hip. I swear there are days that I think her back is shorter than it used to be!
The Connected Groundwork exercises have awakened a new awareness in me about how my movement and energy affects Grace. At one point last night I could feel her spine flex and bend under my hands. She was able to bend her ribcage in a way we have yet to accomplish under saddle. As much as I have hated the dark, wet, cold shorter days of winter, I have come to appreciate the time out of the saddle. We have a ways to go before Spring, so I should be able to establish a routine of groundwork before the temptation to just throw on the saddle and head out for a ride returns.


  1. That sounds great Melissa! My boss became flexible for my friday cleaning too, I was able to adjsut that to getting off at 3:30 and have an extra hour of daylight.

    I hope to see you tomorrow at the lesson, IM looking forward to thought provoking horse talk, and would really like to learn more about the connected riding (or groundwork) taht I keep hearing about :)

  2. Wow, that's quite a difference. I think I have to check out this book.

  3. Nina- I will be there! I let Sarah know that I want her to look at Grace without the saddle before we ride. I have lots of questions about what I am seeing.

  4. I see that Peggy has a new book on her site that will be out in Feb. 2011. I am looking forward to it!

  5. It's so nice to have a flexible boss. Sounds great :)