HOOF TARGET: To touch or walk towards objects with hooves/legs.
Stationary or in movement.
Standing on a mat is often the first foundation behavior I teach. Often in combination with the initial pause training. Mats are so good at giving our horses information of where we want them to be and the behavior of standing on a mat for a couple of minutes is definitely one of the most useful behaviors to teach.
It teaches horses that interacting with the environment is positive and turns it into a resource rather than a threat.
It helps the rider become more "passive" by encouraging them to use the environment creatively instead of relying on being the only source for information for the horse. It also tests our shaping and observation skills.
It teaches horses to work more independently from the rider, fostering a deep understanding of the exercises rather than mere obedience to aids.
When we taught the initial stages of standing on the mat I find many of my clients run out of ideas on what we can create with the help of mats. So I made a short video giving some examples of some of the behaviors I use the mats as a building block or gymnastic tool.