On Friday afternoon at The Mane Event, Jonathan Field taught six horse owners and hundreds of audience members how to use groundwork to develop a great riding horse. "I'm always looking at a horse with riding in mind, so everything that we do on the ground will eventually transfer to riding," he said in the session. "It's really a matter of communication, and teaching your horse to do what you want when you want it."
While teaching the six handlers and their horses, Field discussed how fear or dominance behaviour often results when a horse doesn't have a clear leader. "Horses are always looking for leadership and for someone to control their feet," he said. "This will happen in a herd, and it should also happen when your working with them. Every time I'm with a horse, I always have a plan for his feet."
Using a variety of exercises, Field showed the handlers how to clearly establish their space and how to teach their horse to find an appropriate spot to rest, or the "sweet spot."
Building confidence was also a key theme, as Field emphasized the need to reward your horse for the small steps in training success. "No matter where your horse is at, you have to recognize when he's working with you," he said. "Once you realize and reward these moments of confidence that he shows, then leadership snowballs."
Field will continue his clinics on Saturday, and he'll also be riding in the Equine Experience on Saturday evening.