I have often heard people ask, in some variation or another, why Parelli people do so much work on the ground. In fact, I had this discussion with a student today about the benefits of what we were doing On Line with her extremely athletic RBE mare to later prepare her for a successful ride under saddle.
According to Parelli, the 3 reasons to play On Line (on the ground with a rope) are to 1: Teach your horse something, 2: Teach yourself something, and 3: Prepare for something... not to mention playing On Line can be really fun!
I think that the trouble many of us get into is that we go out and we don't have a plan when we bring our horses out to play. We think we'll just do a couple things, usually the same things we've been doing, not entirely sure on when to quit doing what we're doing, and at some point decide we're either done for the day or it's time to get on.
In my opinion, one of the most important things you can do for yourself as a leader is to have a plan. Knowing what you're going to do, what the rules of the game are, playing by those rules, and knowing when to stop are the keys to proving to your horse you're a trustworthy and respectable leader.
With that in mind, the next time you snap your line on to your horse's halter ask yourself, "Am I teaching my horse something new? Am I learning a new skill? Or, am I preparing my horse for something?" Have an answer before you begin your session.
At first glance it may seem that some of the games or patterns played on the ground don't translate to the saddle. However, the great thing about playing On Line is that by improving your skills from the safety of the ground with a rope you actually accelerate your progress both at Liberty and under saddle (FreeStyle and Finesse). The Savvys work together, not independently of each other.
As you step into the arena have a plan, know what success looks like, and always remember to reward the slightest try. End your days of not knowing why you're playing On Line or when to end your session and your horsemanship will start progressing by leaps and bounds.