won't stand still to mount

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won't stand still to mount

Post by Admin on Fri Feb 19, 2010 9:18 am

Hi trainers. I have a gelding that doesn't stand to mount. He likes to trail ride and he's pretty high energy. When I get in the saddle he is READY TO RIDE. I want to say that we have done extensive groundwork. He yields, backs, sidepasses.. all of that stuff and when I tell him to "stand" from the ground, he stands. He is a really obedient horse, aside from the mounting thing. I ride him in a hackamore and never have issues with him. I'm a very bossy person by nature, so with my animals, it's my way or the highway. I've been told before not to try to make a gaited horse hold back at the beginning of a ride because he has to get his energy out. Before, I thought that philosophy was just an excuse to allow bad behavior, but since I got this horse it seems to hold true. I always pull him back to a stop and then ask him to move forward again, but for the first 5 minutes, he is raring to go. He then consistently calms down and becomes an ideal trail partner. Sensitive to my cues, rarely challenges anything I ask of him. It's just this one thing. No matter how I work with him, he just can't seem to find the patience to wait for me to tell him to go. He has a great whoa though, something that you wouldn't expect of a horse who has a lot of go. I thought it was the saddle, but no, it fits good. I'm stumped. It's really not a huge thing, I guess, but being that I'm a control freak I really want him over this. PS. I've tried lunging him and working him in the arena before we go out, but it doesn't make any difference. I've also bended him and backed him from the saddle during this time but it seems to frustrate him and make him angry. He just loves to get on with it. Do I just continue on as I am and just put up with it? Really, that's all I have to complain about with him so I feel a little guilty making a fuss over it.


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Re: won't stand still to mount

Post by Ed Dabney on Fri Feb 19, 2010 10:27 am

Hi Morgan,

I take the issue of standing still to mount very seriously. The ship should not leave the dock without the captain on board. Moving when you are in the process of mounting and/or moving off before you give the cue to move is not a small problem. This is rude, disrespectful and dangerous behavior. As the leader, you should always make every decision about speed and direction. The horse is never allowed to make decisions about speed and direction. You never have to just "put up with" any type of rude behavior from your horse. With patience, good communication and the proper type of training any horse can learn to be polite in all its behavior and always wait for your cue.

I'm glad to read that you are doing ground work with your horse. Always go through your ground work routine of various exercises before riding in order to have your horse focused on you, work off a little energy, be reminded of the cues, become supple and warmed up, settle the saddle and reestablish your leadership position. Your ground work will remind your horse that you are the one making all the decisions about speed and direction before you mount up.

I try to always use a solid mounting block when mounting because I can mount up without pulling on the horses back. I'm 6'3" so I can easily mount most horses from the ground, however I use a mounting block for the benefit of the horse. Mounting from the ground creates stress on the withers and may eventually cause a spinal misalignment. Using a mounting block is especially important for teaching a horse to stand still while mounting. The location of the mounting block becomes a focal point for the horse as a recognized place where we always stand still to mount. Of course, later when your horse has learned to stand still for mounting and wait for your cue to move then you can mount anywhere you like with or without a mounting block. Even on the trail I try to find a log, slope or rock to use to avoid pulling on the horses back when mounting.

If a horse has been allowed to move off while or immediately after the rider mounts or if the rider immediately asks the horse to move off as soon as the rider is mounted then the horse is actually being taught to move while being mounted. The horse begins to anticipate movement on an earlier cue which is simply the rider taking hold of the stirrup in preparation for mounting. Horses are excellent at memorizing a sequence or pattern. If the end result of mounting is to immediately move off then what is the first component of that sequence? It is the rider approaching the side of the horse and grasping the stirrup. If this is done in the same manner every time and the end result is movement then at that very first moment of the sequence the horse is already going into movement mode.

In order to correct the problem of a horse anticipating movement, we must erase the consistent sequence of the mounting process. The fence is your friend. It will help greatly in this process. Start this teaching process by having him standing in the corner with a good fence in front of him, a fence on his right side and the mounting block on his left side. Stand and hold him here and let him know he is safe in this spot even though it may feel claustrophobic to him at first. Be very relaxed and casual. Just stand and hold him. Rub him on the neck and talk to him in a reassuring tone until he is relaxed and comfortable standing in the corner. After that is accomplished then begin to simulate each individual element of the mounting process repeatedly without actually getting on. Walk up & down the mounting block, grab the stirrup, bump him in the shoulder with your knee, put your foot in the stirrup, put some weight in the stirrup, take hold of rein and mane in your left hand and pull as if you were going to mount, pat the saddle, rub his rump. If at any time during your movements he begins to move just step down from the mounting block, bring him back into position and rub him until he relaxes and stands still, then resume your simulated mounting. You are desensitizing him to the whole mounting process. With each element of the mounting process upon which the horse stands still stop your work and rub and praise him. In other words, if you step up on the mounting block and he stands still for that then just step down and rub him. Then if you step up on the mounting block and take hold of the stirrup and he stands still then step down and rub him again. Every time the horse stands calmly, stop and rub and praise him. When you are able to casually simulate every portion of the mounting process without the horse ever moving then step back down on the ground and rub him for standing still. Repeat this several times before actually mounting so you desensitize him to all of your movements during the mounting process.

Stay in your position in the corner of the fence for actual mounting. When you do finally arrive in the saddle take a deep breath, just sit there, relax and rub on him even before you put your right foot in the stirrup. Maintain your connection with him instead of wiggling around trying to get your other stirrup which would add energy to the situation and indicate to him to move his feet. (By the way, you should be able to put your right foot in the stirrup without reaching for it or looking at it.)

While mounting if you feel him start to move, see if you can encourage him to stand still by lifting up on the reins which are in your left hand during mounting. If he still moves, don't mount up. Go back to step one and do more mounting simulation until he can stand calmly again.

When you are mounted, relaxed and he is standing calmly then your first step should be backing away from the mounting block, not going forward so he is always anticipating backing as the first direction of movement after mounting. He will be less likely to walk off during mounting if he is anticipating that backing will be your next request.

In the future, after you have taught him to stand for mounting and wait for your cue to move, continue to keep him guessing as to when you are actually going to mount by occasionally doing some simulated mounting just as a review.

This is a gradual step by step process which requires your dedication and commitment in order to re-teach your horse, but I guarantee it will be worth your time and effort in developing a more safe, polite and respectful horse.

Enjoy the journey,

Ed Dabney

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Re: won't stand still to mount

Post by Jeff Sanders on Fri Feb 19, 2010 10:37 am

Hey Morgan,

First and foremost when we are talking about behavior issues like this it doesn’t make any difference what the horses breading is. If it is a Gaited horse, Thoroughbred, Arab, Quarter horse, Mustang, etc they should ALL behave equally well and ALL of them can.

From the sounds of it this may not be a terribly difficult problem to overcome. Because you already have your horse doing well with the ground work I would use that solid base to help you with your under saddle problem. I would be inclined to have someone who is a good hand on the ground to help me out by keeping the horse on a lounge line while I got on. I would have that person correct the horse using the ground techniques that the horse already responds well to. As soon as the horse starts acting up he would get corrected in a manner that he can already relate to. As the horse gets better you can ask him to move out on the line. If he decides not to listen to your cues your ground help can bring him back to where he needs to be.

I would have him spend a lot of time standing while I was sitting in the saddle. Get on and take out your cell phone and catch up with your family and friends. Then move him out a little, stop and stand, then a little further out and again stop and stand. Then turn him around and go right back to where you started. It may take some time of focused training but every horse I have worked with that has exhibited the behaviors you have described has come around and ended up relaxing and doing very well.

If you have any troubles along the way don’t hesitate to let us know.

Jeff Sanders

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Re: won't stand still to mount

Post by Paul Williamson on Sat Feb 20, 2010 2:43 pm


Normally I wouldn't endorse my own stuff here but your problem is one that could easily be solved for good by using just the Half-TAP. It has worked wonders for so many of my fellow friends and horse trainers and since your horse is otherwise well-behaved, you won't need to do much at all. Please contact me directly for more info through my page (where you can also read more) http://www.hybridhorsemanship.com

All the best!
Paul Williamson

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Re: won't stand still to mount

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