Thursday, September 22, 2022

Similarities between Mary Wanless, Connection Training, and BTMM Groundwork

Something that has come up for me this summer has been the slow realization that there are some striking similarities between the groundwork programs of Mary Wanless on, Connection Training, and Celeste aka The Traveling Horse Witches’ BTMM.  Each of these programs uses a slightly different methodology, but the end goal and outcomes are very similar.

MW’s groundwork program on uses Equitation Science as its foundation, based on the idea that horses learn by trialing behaviors and that the release is only given when the desired outcome is shown. Connection Training is positive reinforcement based using clicker training to teach the horse to do specific movements and patterns.  BTMM doesn’t have a particular training methodology other than being gentle and using combination of negative(release of pressure) and positive (reward based) reinforcement.

The interesting thing is that all these programs have the same end objectives that aren’t really seen in a lot of other groundwork programs.  A horse that accepts/gives to contact.  A horse that can rock its weight/center of gravity back from a slight signal.  A horse that can abduct (reach from centerline out)either of its forelegs easily.  All of these things combined, leading to a horse that strengthens and uses its thoracic sling properly.  

I started with Connection Training and found a lot of value with clicker training, especially with motivation and clarity.  Then I dabbled with the BTMM, using the Masterclass on Facebook, which led to a much better understanding of how the thoracic sling actually functions.  Lastly, I’ve been doing the groundwork certification on dressage that in short, step by step videos and use of pressure and release covers the same ground. Strikingly so.

I’m about halfway through the groundwork program and I have to say it is my favorite of the three programs.  It only delves lightly into positive reinforcement aka clicker training and doesn’t go as much into the theory of the thoracic sling, but the end goal is exactly the same as the other two programs.  Groundwork that is accepting of contact, balanced, has easy foreleg abductions, and exhibiting proper thoracic sling development.  I think any of these programs can lead you to the correct place, but I have personally found to be the most step by step.  Also, the groundwork cues transfer into the ridden work very seamlessly.  

I started my online learning adventure with the TRT Method.  Where did you start and where are you now and why?


  1. I started with trail riding on kick and go horses. Kick them- they go. Kick them again- they go faster. Now I'm training my own ponies and looking into all the different ways of showing and competing, focusing on dressage basics for them to move properly- trail riding is to decompress and relax.