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Leading dogs and horses through patterns of poles laid on the ground, over low raised boards and see saws and over different textures helps to improve proprioception, focus and balance.
Teaching dogs and horses to walk over different surfaces improves confidence and helps them to overcome concerns about slippery floors, ramps, wooden bridges and so on
The slow, precise movements of the ground work exercises help animals to settle and learn the ability to self calm. They also increase flexibility and improve gait. Physical, emotional and mental balance are linked and the ground work exercises can have a dramatic effect on behaviour and are particularly useful for dogs or horses on reduced exercise or for those that become over aroused when on the lead or being worked in hand. They can also be a valuable starting point for animals that cannot tolerate contact.
Equipment also has a direct influence on the posture and behaviour of an animal. Any pressure on the dog’s neck will trigger bracing through the body and can increase stress through pressure on the throat. A harness and a long training lead with a clip at each end is more favourable for dogs and gives us more choices in the way we influence, and work with the dog. The lead can be attached either to the flat collar and harness, or clipped to the front and the back of the harness. It can also be taken around the dog’s chest to make a Balance Leash which is a quick and easy way to reduce pulling.
Ground work for horses teaches them to use their body effectively without being inhibited by poor rider posture or incorrect saddle fit encouraging them to lengthen and strengthen the top line and develop true self carriage. Leading the horse from the side enables us to give precise signals to the horse and a long dressage schooling stick is used to increase awareness through the body and to give cues to the horse to slow, turn, move forward and halt.
The labyrinth is a simple and effective exercise for dogs and horses that improves concentration, gait and co-ordination. It can be used in a variety of ways as this young cob demonstrates.
The Tellington TTouch helps to increase trust and understanding between both the animal and his owner/carer. It benefits both the giver and the receiver and gives us a greater appreciation for our animal companions. It improves performance as well as posture and has been pivotal in enabling many animals to reach their true potential.