equine clicker training

using precision and positive reinforcement to teach horses and people

Chapter 9: Mat work

This page lists additional resources for the book “Teaching Horses with Positive Reinforcement.” I will be adding to this page as I have time. 

There are endless variations on mat work. Here are some of the possibilities. Most people start with two front feet on the mat. Here are some ideas for where to go from there.

Here are some other type of mats. I often use wooden mats, but here are some other options. The doormat is nice because it shows up on many surfaces. The rubber paver has a little height and is very durable. The stall mat works well for riding because it doesn’t shift. The rubber doormat is a nice size. When I use dark mats in my ring (which has gray footing, I often mark them with cones so the horse can easily see them at a distance.

Mats are not just for horses…


Using a mat as a parking space to practice hoof handling

Generalizing the “stand” behavior so the horse learns to stand both with and without the mat. This exercise is also a great way to teach stimulus control around a mat. 

A short chain using a mat and the behavior “knock it.”

Three mat games (front feet on mat, hind feet on mat, backing on to a mat) both on the ground and under saddle. This video does not show the finished product but shows how you can use mats to increase both the rider and horse’s awareness of foot placement and refine your ability to direct the horse’s feet.

Additional resources