Sunday, February 20, 2011

Putting it all to work

I bought one of Peggy’s halters last Sunday. I normally don’t purchase equipment sold by clinicians. You won’t see me with a 50 dollar “carrot stick” when I know I pick up a free stick off the ground that does the same job. I purchased the halter because I saw the value in it, how it was designed specifically for the Connect Groundwork. I actually had to ask if I could buy one, and had to wait for Susan, Peggy’s business partner to return to the barn to purchase it. They were clearly not pushing their equipment on anyone in attendance. I used one that Peggy had on hand during the lesson and could see the difference between it and the pieced together set up I was using at home. Peggy’s halter was specifically designed for the work she does.
It wasn’t long before my new purchase showed me its worth.
For the past few months Grace has become progressively worse coming out the pasture gate. What started out as somewhat silly behavior, pinning her ears back and going after the dog, has over time turned into an obnoxious habit. Lots of leaping and bucking and kicking out. There are days I feel like I have a fire breathing dragon at the end of my lead rope. The behavior carries over to when I tack her up. She doesn’t want to stand and has even tried to bite me. The first day I worked her after the lesson with Peggy, I took the halter up to the pasture with me. I closed the gate behind me and took my time figuring out the new contraption. Grace shoved her face into the halter keeping her eyes on the gate. I “combed the line” and “drew the bow”. Grace forgot about the gate and started to focus. We took our time waking out the gate; I continued to comb the line and draw the bow all the way to the trailer. I have continued this new routine every day since. 5 days later I have a well behaved mare who calmly walks out of her pasture gate and stands quietly while I brush her.

Wednesday – Friday I only worked Grace in hand. With each night Grace became more responsive to the work. The spooky phase went away; she started to anticipate the exercises. I found that she is more responsive on the right side. She loves the “combing” work, and doesn’t like it when I send her out on the line away from me. Even though we were only working on the ground, at the walk and trot I knew we were accomplishing more than if we had spent an hour under saddle. This became very clear to me when I got back on her this weekend. Both days I followed the same routine of pulling her out of the pasture in the Connected Groundwork halter. She walked out so nicely today you would have thought we were in a showmanship class. I lead her to the arena and did 20 minutes of ground work. I kept the halter on when I saddled her. Every time she pinned her ears, I combed the line. By this afternoon, years of “cinchy” behavior seemed to be fading away.

My rides over the last two days have been just lovely. I have focused on my seat and body position. We do a lot of walking and turning. I “swivel” my body to create a turn, my hands stay in front of my saddle as I “hug” myself. For the last two days I have worked Grace on a loose rein in a snaffle at the walk, jog and lope. Grace has chosen to telescope her neck low out in front of her. She has a jog that I could ride all day long. Her left lead lope is something I have only dreamed of and her right lead is the best it has ever been. I spend the entire ride aware of my seat, going through my checklist in my head. I am amazed by how easy it is. I don’t have to work to make it happen. If anything I seem to be “allowing” my horse to access her true movement.
I wonder if Peggy sells t-shirts with her catch phase “Oh Really!”

Grace before I started the ground work today

Close up of the line, it is textured making it easy to "comb"

Grace midway through our ground work session today

Grace at the end of our ground work session today.
I would MUCH rather ride this horse!


  1. Very cool to see a piece of equipment that actually WORKS the way it's supposed to. Sounds like a good investment.

  2. This is so awesome to follow along with you two. Im so eager for my book to arrive, and Sarah said Peggy will be here again on march 22, I am DEFINITELY signing up for it!

  3. Wow, she looks great. Now I really can't wait to get my book.

  4. I'm with you on those expensive "carrot sticks' I laugh each time I see one. But there certainly are pieces of equipment that do work and that's cool you found one that works for you.

    Good groundwork has such a profound effect on saddle work. If more people would get that figured out, things would be so much easier for the horses.