Oberon has really come a long way with ground play since we got him. Actually, so have we! It surprises me HOW MUCH I enjoy ground work. I grew up just hopping on and riding - my girls are just the opposite. There have been many times when I was willing to skip it, but they insisted upon it, and what do you know? Oberon showed us his "mind wasn't in the game" of riding yet. He was "bad" and challenged us, acting squirrelly - certainly not in the state of mind I wanted my daughters riding him (or myself) out on the trail.
Simple cues from my body, a hand motion, a step forward, backward, and others are noticed by my horse and he responds. I watch many people lunge their horses, and the horse tunes them out. The trick is the horse must be tuned in at all times for this to work. And vice versa. I must notice everything my horse is doing... and thinking. It really is total communication and another positive element is I am establishing I am the boss. I tell him when to move forward, backward, sideways, when to speed up, speed down, stop, go, and so-on.
It really does become a game, and when I watch those who really have done it for a long time, I would liken it to a dance. It is magical when you see freedom work done... no halter, no rope is attached. Just true communication, respect, and obedience.
My daughters and I are at different stages in our ability with Oberon on the ground, and he is a good boy to work with all of us. Following is a 2 minute video showing my daughter working with him today.
And, we rode him today... two months of no riding as he was healing from a kicking injury to his back legs. We didn't canter today, but I think his trot looks great. All of the images and the video were taken with my iPhone.
I see his saddle had moved up a bit here -we do ride with it in back of his shoulders. I have a tendency to want to be "nice" and not tighten the saddle as much as I should.
We love our sweet boy!