Western Dressage Exercise – Ground Work Triangle

In terms of developing better balance and therefore improved movement in our equine athletes, symmetry is a constant priority. Patterns that require a horse to smoothly bend his body from one direction to the other promote evenness in his muscular and skeletal system. Changing bends like this while maintaining a slow, steady tempo has multiple effects for equalizing how he uses each side of his structure, lessening the dominance on his naturally crooked side. Firstly, small bends done in a quiet tempo (walk only or slow jog with good footing) stretch the horse’s long back muscles that span from head to tail, specifically those on the outside of the bend.

By alternating the bends left-right, left-right, we can release tension on the stronger and more dominant side while toning the weaker side. Over time, this alternating muscle recruitment can correct soft tissue imbalances.

Secondly, small bends require the horse to flex his inside hip and stifle joints in conjunction with flexed obliques and abdominals. The flexed position of these joints requires stabilizing from the adjacent muscle groups and ligaments. This stabilized flexion develops in part from improved strength but also suppleness, which increases from exercises like the following.

Slide1Ground Work Triangle

  1. Set a cone at each point of a triangle as shown.
  2. Outfit your horse with a longe cavesson (or rope halter if you lack a cavesson) and 15-20’ line.
  3. Position yourself in the middle of the triangle…
  4. …and begin by asking the horse to walk a small circle to the right around the top cone on your triangle. (cone #1 in diagram)
  5. Then, pass your rope to your left hand and direct the horse to pass in front of you, heading in the direction of cone #2.
  6. Now circle cone #2 to the left.
  7. Then pass the horse in front of you again, heading towards cone #3.
  8. Circle cone #3 to the right.
  9. Continue working your way around the points of the triangle like this. Feel free to mix things up by circling each cone just once or sometimes repeatedly, to keep the horse on his toes and responsive.


Western Dressage Weekly Exercise – authored by Jec Ballou | Copyright © 2013



3 Responses to “Western Dressage Exercise – Ground Work Triangle

  • Karen Nye
    5 years ago

    Helpful exercise and pictures to go with showing the direction to go would be helpful. I think I have it up until cone #3.


    Karen Nye

    • DMD-Admin
      5 years ago

      Yes and we are working on that for you as we speak. Thanks for letting us know!

    • DMD-Admin
      5 years ago

      New diagram has been added.