What’s the purpose behind getting a horse to stand on a box? Is it for bringing out his balance or something else?

09 Jan

“This is new to me – I might be a little like Newt 😉… what’s the purpose behind getting him to stand on the box? Is it for bringing out his balance or something else?”-Christina

I consider this type of training to be moderate to advanced groundwork. Most people see the need for basic groundwork which involves basic leading and lunging but few see the true potential that moderate and advanced groundwork has to offer.

Horses have an amazing capacity for learning and I believe that they benefit from mental exercise every bit as much as they do from physical exercise. While it is true that we are always working with both the physical and the mental horse it is also true that most exercises lean toward being more of one or the other.

It is pretty clear that this box is a mental challenge. There is some physical challenge too but the things that are being tested and strengthen the most is the ability for the two of us to communicate. Newt is allowed to ask questions and to make mistakes. I am required to give him guidance and cues in a way that he continues to progress without becoming scared or having a attitude.

Lets look at it from another angle: There are people who will make the box exercise ‘all about the box’. In their mind, success and failure will depend on the success of the box. Often times these individuals will go to any lengths to ‘conquer’ the box…including destroying the relationship, as long as the horse gets on the box. (P.S.- You can replace the word ‘box’ with any end goal and find half of what is wrong with horse training)

Maybe it will help Newt’s balance or maybe it is just a silly trick…but I do know this; although it may LOOK like the exercise is all about the box, it is really about communication. I still want Newt to get on the box but ‘getting’ there, the journey or the process, is as important – or more important- than the end result.

Day 7: Attempt 48


Posted by on January 9, 2015 in Thought provoking, Training


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

10 responses to “What’s the purpose behind getting a horse to stand on a box? Is it for bringing out his balance or something else?

  1. Roseann Tode

    January 9, 2015 at 4:27 pm

    Kudos Stacy ………. very well stated about the exercise and communication. I have communication with my horses and it has saved my butt more than once in diff ways. Whether its a sticky situation to get out of or as simple as at reining affiliates showing in a pavilion and having the morning sun shining in on the dirt making it look like an obstacle. Having done the box obstacle while riding I was able to be confident and let him drop his nose to the dirt and it gave him the confidence to step into to it……….. most other horses shied away and walked around it to get to center and then tried to avoid it on their circles……… Jose Vasquez was even disqualified cause he enter the ring his horse seen it and flew backwards right out of the arena. So the lesson is you never know when that ground work will come in handy, and it really teaches you to read your horse.
    Thanks so much for these blogs.


  2. Jenny Northcott

    January 9, 2015 at 9:18 pm

    Awesome response! It is all about the communication. Think how the horse will react if it has worked through these fun groundwork lessons. The horse will understand so much more clearly the crazy requests that we ask of them – learning to load in a trailer, untangling them from a mess be it fencing or knead rope, crossing obstacles, setting up in halter class – the list is endless.

    I’m really enjoying your blogs! Thank you for sharing your vast amount of knowledge.

  3. Nikki Hale

    January 9, 2015 at 11:34 pm

    Hi Stacy! I am trying to get some projects done this winter to get ready for next summer. Are there other “obstacles” that you have worked with your horses on that have been handy? I am going to build a bridge/teeter-totter, a couple of different boxes (different sizes and heights), a sun dial, and an arch with a tarp cut into strips to walk through. Just looking for ideas to challenge my horses and myself this summer. Thanks!

  4. Christine Carr

    January 10, 2015 at 5:24 am

    curious if you are using any verbal cues with Newt to get on the box or are you giving any cues with the lead rope at all. Just wondering if there is silence on your end or are you telling him in some way to get on the box even if it’s a small cue. Thx!

  5. Lori

    January 10, 2015 at 4:56 pm

    I agree communication is key, I have had to send my horse out into an obstacle we could not ride through with me going one way and her traversing another route. Love watching you in action Stacy ty for what you bring to horse training, and ty for how much you have helped me 🙂

  6. Tara Farnsworth-Kaczor

    January 10, 2015 at 6:00 pm

    While I was watching this, I thought it was an exercise on balance, foot placement, and then I read your article. The obvious was not so obvious and it stands to reason that communication can clearly be overlooked. Thank you for adjusting my views on training.

  7. marchwind1999

    January 11, 2015 at 8:48 pm

    Here at most of the 40+ horses and ponies know pedestal work at one level or another…you are so right, it is WAY more that being about the box. Plus, the horses seem to really like it! Here’s a video I shot this afternoon…I grabbed some boarders as they passed through the arena plus I used some of our own horses…

  8. marchwind1999Lois Smith

    January 13, 2015 at 10:32 am

    I wanted to add that the pedestal is about learning to “go forward” on cue…also learning specific placement of feet and body…I often challenge folks to position their horse correctly for the pedestal with OUT moving their feet at all…not easy at first! It helps get our horse’s attention…gets them “feeling” for us and our intent…helps US focus and be specific in intent. And yes along the way it sure helps a horse with his balance and coordination…look at the difference between the babies and the longtime pedestal horses in the above video 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: