The difference between work in hand and groundwork is that in work in hand we take a contact with both reins between the hand and the nose/mouth of the horse like in riding. Therefore, work in hand builds the bridge between the work on the ground and the horse riding, not only in preparation for riding, but also repeatedly during the ridden education of the horse.
Through work in hand we develop and refine the contact and communication between our hands and the whole horse without the additional weight of the rider, which is very valuable especially in the development of the collected exercises. Another advantage of work in hand is, that it is easier to watch the whole horse in all exercises and gaits and to perceive the strengths and weaknesses of the horse (for example, which is the weaker hind leg) to adjust and create the training accordingly.
The aim of work in hand is to supple up and loosen the horse from both sides (leading from the inside and the outside), to teach him all lateral movements from the ground and thus prepare the horse for riding or continuously support the training under saddle.
In work in hand we are working with a cavesson and reins and later in the advanced work with a combination of the cavesson and a curb and two reins.
This technique is a good way to educate the riders hand, without him sitting on the horse. You can learn to balance all parts of the horse’s body with a sensitive hand. The horse can gain suppleness and power without carrying extra weight.
Impressions ST Work in hand Grade III Whoopy & Floh