• Olivia Cartier-Graves

Classical In-Hand Work

If you’ve ever seen horses at the Spanish Riding School of Vienna or the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art in Andalusia then you’ve witnessed the exceptional training of in hand work. Horses that are well versed in all lateral movements up to high school in hand.  A partnership between human and horse that enables us to work from the ground and perform movements lightly in hand from beside our horses. From basic side passes to piaffe and passage in hand.  These movements which prepare the horse for work under saddle.

The importance of this ground work is so often underestimated.  It has numerous benefits throughout for both handler and horse. 

So how can in hand work benefit you and your horse? In-hand work creates a trusting partnership and it enables the handler to study the horse.  Does he find certain movements easy or hard? is his body even? does he favour one side or the other? how coodinated is he?  How does he learn? how can you help him learn easily?  how does he respond to pressure? This work will help him to learn the movements and aids that will later be used under saddle.  He begins to find his coordination, his balance, strength and confidence and all of this without the burden of a riders weight - their imbalances or poor habits.  Can you see how much easier this will be for the rider and the horse with the knowledge already in the memory of the horse and the body physically prepared by the time work under saddle begins? The horse learns self carriage before work under saddle. This work not only creates an impressive end result but the foundations of this cannot be overlooked.  With the basic foundations set this creates ease of handling for anything you do including backing your horse up, moving your horse around obstacles, learning to park quietly and have his feet trimmed, teaching him to float etc.  

Your goals do not have to be high school or even to ride these movements. They can be as simple as having a horse that can be handled easily.  They can be to rehab a horse that cannot be ridden.  Or perhaps you can’t ride but wish to enjoy the partnership and experience that this work offers, even miniature horses can be trained! All of this can be continued at liberty for fun.  Perhaps you have an elderly horse that needs some quiet work or some specific exercises to help strengthen a weakness? There are so many exercises you can do on the ground with your horse it is impossible for you or your horse to be bored.  

In hand work is generally started in the cavesson before moving to work in the bridle.  All movements should be able to be done on one lead and then in refinement in the bridle with reins (bitted or bit-less) or in the double bridle with two reins.  In hand work can be done in walk, in trot and in canter while the handler walks beside the horse.  All movements such as shoulder in, counter shoulder in, travers, renver, half pass, pirouettes, turn on the forehand, piaffe and passage can be taught.  This work also continues in the lunge, with two reins, and long reining where all of the above moments can also be taught.  

In-hand has personally taken me on an amazing journey to understand my horse, his nature, his personality, his forgiveness and generosity.  The foundations of this work have given me solid ground skills to handle these strong and unpredictable creatures but to go on to refine our skills to enjoy a relationship that is based on mutual respect and willingness to work with each other quietly and with mutual cooperation.  There is nothing quite like creating these movements with your horse beside you whether you have reins in your hand or at liberty.

* I can help you from basic ground work to strengthen your skills and relationship with your horse and teach basic cooperation for ease of handling.

* Start you in hand and guide your through the levels.

* Lunge for purpose. Learn exercises to help build balance, flawless transitions, obedience, and develop an eye to see your horses strengths and weaknesses.

* Two reining

* Ridden lunge lessons to work on your own body awareness, balance and coordination.

I am available in the Waimakariri district around Rangiora, Woodend, Cust, Ohoka, oxford and similar areas.

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