The benefits of groundwork are becoming more and more apparent as horse owners—professionals and amateurs alike—discover that developing this partnership on the ground helps their horse become safer and more attentive. Many of us have developed a ‘quick-check’ routine that we run through before we mount which allows us to get our horses engaged with us for the work ahead.
Some of us enjoy natural horsemanship techniques, lungeing, long-reining and working at liberty, and a few of us participate in formal showmanship classes. But many of us don’t have any goals beyond that, so we easily become bored.
North American Western Dressage (NADW) has taken groundwork to a new level. They have developed a progressive system of ‘tests’ that include tasks that many of us are already doing – leading, halting, backing, walking in a circle, turn on the forehand, turn on the haunches, and more. Each test is judged according to the willingness, harmony, and balance that your horse shows. As a “handler”, you can also earn points how well you apply your aids.
You will not need any special equipment, a simple halter and lead rope at least 10-feet long will work fine. And you can do it at home!
NAWD runs video shows in the United States, providing riders the opportunity to compete and gain feedback from the comfort of their own backyard, using the power of video.
Live shows and other virtual showing programs only take 3 to 5 minutes of your ride. The videos are judged by a panel who usually spend 30-40 minutes per video, making sure their comments give you detailed information. NAWD judges rewind and stop your video as necessary to ensure that they give you a genuine score so you can make genuine improvement.
Since it’s inception in 2010, NAWD has made knowledgable, sustainable and humane training of the horse its primary focus. They take a solid stance against training practices which have been scientifically proven detrimental to the long term well being of our beloved partners, such as riding or training in a frame where the horse’s head is behind the vertical.
NAWD are inclusive. All breeds of equines are welcome, including miniatures and donkeys, as are all ages of horse and human! They’ve had participants from foals to pasture retirees and handlers ranging from children to senior citizens.
Perhaps the best part of NAWD’s Six Feet on the Ground program is the opportunity to show from home. With NAWD’s virtual shows you can video a test, upload it to you-tube, and receive a detailed scoresheet with the chance to win ribbons and year end awards.
NAWD offers virtual shows each month from March–October, learn more about their mission, advisory board and show details at www.nawdhorse.org.