Groundwork: Using Mats and Pedestals for Despooking and Body Awareness

Gymnastic Groundwork Series Part 5

Teaching your horse to stand on different surfaces builds their awareness of foot placement is a great way to improve body awareness and confidence.

Using soft mats and surfaces means that your horse has to use their little stabilising muscles and you can really see their body working to stay balanced even at halt. Just stand on your bed and you’ll know exactly what it feels like as your body makes constant tiny adjustments to keep you balanced on your mattress!

Low pedestals are also one of my favourite exercises to build confidence and body awareness as the horse learns to step on and off it with all 4 feet.

There is often anxiety around these objects to start with so there is some vaulable despooking training in these exercises, too. I’ve done a lot of this with Rowan as she used to be terrified of anything around her feet, and you can see she still has one spook in this session as we work at her current threshold.

I train all of this using a marker (clicker training) and rewards to reinforce my horse. I’m looking at the emotional piece, too, so that the training is soft, calm and builds trust and communication between horse and handler as well.


Watch the full Gymnastic Groundwork Demo series here:

P1: Getting Started with In-Hand Work: Leading with Connection 

P2: In-Hand Work: How to Start Lateral Flexions and Shoulders & Quarters Over Using Clicker Training 

P3: In-Hand Work: Teaching Lateral Movements with Clicker Training 

P4: Pole Exercises for Confidence, Body Awareness and Strength

P5: Groundwork: Using Mats and Pedestals

➣ We have a full Home Study Course on Gymnastic Groundwork in the CT Club. This shows you exactly how to train these movements, starting from leading and building from there, including step-by-step videos of teaching lateral work in-hand. It’s laid out clearly step-by-step showing real horses learning every step of the way so it’s perfect if you’ve never done it before and/or you’re looking for a way to train groundwork using clicker training or positive reinforcement.

The CT Club is an online membership site where you can get access to hundreds of step-by-step training videos on training your horse using positive reinforcement. You can find out more and sign up here. We look forward to seeing you there 🙂

➤ You can also find out more in the #1 bestselling Connection Training BOOK 📖 Get it on Amazon (search for ‘Connection Training’) or download Chapter 1 free here for a preview 👀 


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