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crazyhorsefreak

Mounting Difficulties

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At least for the past two or three times I've ridden D.J. he's been TERRIBLE for mounting. It began one evening where it was really nice out and I was feeling in the mood to ride. I did everything I usually do, nothing different at all. I put my foot in the stirrup, put weight in it, and then he freaked, leaping to the side.

I have some reason to believe it's because I don't get up and into the saddle as quickly as I should. I have a real problem geting right up without putting majority of my weight into the stirrup and hold it for at least three to five seconds.

I KNOW D.J. should stand still even if I am a little slow, but I'm really not sure what to do in this case. When I have someone hold the reins, he's perfectly peachy and waits until I'm up. But when I'm alone and try to get up into the saddle, he bounces all over the place.

I DO shorten my reins before getting on, but I think I still might let him have TOO much rein, but if I make it too...short, then he immediately begins to move back because of his sensitive mouth.

Saddle wise, I'm fairly certain it has nothing to do with the saddle. I check for pinching, check the girth look where I positioned it and it doesn't bother him at all.

But as always, I can't rule out the fact that he might have back issues too, I just see them as unlikely.

This little mounting issue applies to even when I use a chair or block. As soon as I put pressure in that stirrup he's gone. I jump down, back him up about...ten...fifteen steps and try again.

Eventually he'll just give up and let me get on, but then when I'm halfway over his back, he does this little dance and tries to moves around with me that way.

I'm thinking he's doing this because I haven't worked with him enough on this? Or maybe it is because I'm hurting his back taking so long to get into the saddle? He IS an arab/twh so... I think his back is a little more sensitive compared to my QH.

So, any tips?

Also, are there any exercises that can help me mount better?

Thanks!

Sincerely,

shadowgal.

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At least for the past two or three times I've ridden D.J. he's been TERRIBLE for mounting. It began one evening where it was really nice out and I was feeling in the mood to ride. I did everything I usually do, nothing different at all. I put my foot in the stirrup, put weight in it, and then he freaked, leaping to the side.

I have some reason to believe it's because I don't get up and into the saddle as quickly as I should. I have a real problem geting right up without putting majority of my weight into the stirrup and hold it for at least three to five seconds.

I KNOW D.J. should stand still even if I am a little slow, but I'm really not sure what to do in this case. When I have someone hold the reins, he's perfectly peachy and waits until I'm up. But when I'm alone and try to get up into the saddle, he bounces all over the place.

I DO shorten my reins before getting on, but I think I still might let him have TOO much rein, but if I make it too...short, then he immediately begins to move back because of his sensitive mouth.

Saddle wise, I'm fairly certain it has nothing to do with the saddle. I check for pinching, check the girth look where I positioned it and it doesn't bother him at all.

But as always, I can't rule out the fact that he might have back issues too, I just see them as unlikely.

This little mounting issue applies to even when I use a chair or block. As soon as I put pressure in that stirrup he's gone. I jump down, back him up about...ten...fifteen steps and try again.

Eventually he'll just give up and let me get on, but then when I'm halfway over his back, he does this little dance and tries to moves around with me that way.

I'm thinking he's doing this because I haven't worked with him enough on this? Or maybe it is because I'm hurting his back taking so long to get into the saddle? He IS an arab/twh so... I think his back is a little more sensitive compared to my QH.

So, any tips?

Also, are there any exercises that can help me mount better?

Thanks!

Sincerely,

shadowgal.

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Make sure the saddle fits and that he doesn't have any pain in his back. If that all checks out mount with a mounting block with him next to a fence or something safe so that he can't really jump to the side.

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Make sure the saddle fits and that he doesn't have any pain in his back. If that all checks out mount with a mounting block with him next to a fence or something safe so that he can't really jump to the side.

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quote:

Originally posted by BuddyRooShmancyNShy:

Sounds to me like pain. That's an awful lot of pressure on a horse when you are monkeying up.

I'd invest in a mounting block.....

Yes, I figured it might've had something to do with my lagging to get into the saddle.

I DO have a mounting block, he still moves, even when I use it get right up and am over his back.

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quote:

Originally posted by BuddyRooShmancyNShy:

Sounds to me like pain. That's an awful lot of pressure on a horse when you are monkeying up.

I'd invest in a mounting block.....

Yes, I figured it might've had something to do with my lagging to get into the saddle.

I DO have a mounting block, he still moves, even when I use it get right up and am over his back.

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I don't know if this would work for you but it is what I did when I first got Jetta and she wouldn't let anyone mount.

I got her flexing nicely on both sides and held her bent while going through the motions of mounting in increments, breaking it down to the smallest changes until she stood still and was relaxed. Started by bouncing up and down to mimic the mount with hands on horn and cantle, then put foot in stirrup, next stood in stirrup, finally swung on and then off immediately. I believe it was because of some very rough handling from the previous owner that she had such a hard time standing for mounting. Now when I mount, she automatically turns her head to watch me and she stands beautifully.

I repeated on both sides for good measure and balance. I hope this helps.

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I don't know if this would work for you but it is what I did when I first got Jetta and she wouldn't let anyone mount.

I got her flexing nicely on both sides and held her bent while going through the motions of mounting in increments, breaking it down to the smallest changes until she stood still and was relaxed. Started by bouncing up and down to mimic the mount with hands on horn and cantle, then put foot in stirrup, next stood in stirrup, finally swung on and then off immediately. I believe it was because of some very rough handling from the previous owner that she had such a hard time standing for mounting. Now when I mount, she automatically turns her head to watch me and she stands beautifully.

I repeated on both sides for good measure and balance. I hope this helps.

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quote:

Originally posted by SERobins:

...mount with a mounting block with him next to a fence or something safe so that he can't really jump to the side.

I have to err on the side of caution here and say that until you rule out pain and go through some re-training to correct the mounting issue, I would absolutely not put this horse in a position where it can't jump to the right because of a wall/fence/object. Guess what might happen when the horse still wants to jump? It's coming to the left... right on top of the rider.

p.s. - I tend to like mine to stand for days and days if that's how long ima take to get in the saddle or until I tell 'em to do otherwise... reinforcing whoa from the ground might be a little helpful.

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quote:

Originally posted by SERobins:

...mount with a mounting block with him next to a fence or something safe so that he can't really jump to the side.

I have to err on the side of caution here and say that until you rule out pain and go through some re-training to correct the mounting issue, I would absolutely not put this horse in a position where it can't jump to the right because of a wall/fence/object. Guess what might happen when the horse still wants to jump? It's coming to the left... right on top of the rider.

p.s. - I tend to like mine to stand for days and days if that's how long ima take to get in the saddle or until I tell 'em to do otherwise... reinforcing whoa from the ground might be a little helpful.

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Get a friend to mount and dismount a dozen times. Someone that does not have the problem you have. If it gets better, well you need to learn to mount better. Also make sure to square your horse before mounting up. Grab the saddle and rock your horse back and forth until that square up and stand. Then load the stirrup.

Lee

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Get a friend to mount and dismount a dozen times. Someone that does not have the problem you have. If it gets better, well you need to learn to mount better. Also make sure to square your horse before mounting up. Grab the saddle and rock your horse back and forth until that square up and stand. Then load the stirrup.

Lee

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I would invest in a chiro first and a mounting block second. This really does sound like a pain issue. Every second you are hanging on his side trying to get up you are putting torque on him. He knows it is going to hurt and tries to evade. If he was mine, I would get the chiro out to tend to the root problem. Then I would probably mount the next half dozen times or so with a header and a block, so that he can learn that mounting doesn't hurt anymore. Then I would put the block by a fence corner so that he can't move more than a step or so away and mount from the block by myself. If he really insists on moving, he can still go backwards instead of over you. But he can't easily go sideways.

Whenever I mount Dakota, I always have him stand still for about 15 seconds, then back him 3 steps before I ask him to him walk off. This minimizes any inclination he might have to walk off before I am settled. He has stood like a gentleman, all by himself without a header, for mounting since about his 3rd mount.

Just to add though, it really does sound like he is anticipating discomfort. I would get that looked at first.

[ 06-10-2008, 01:16 PM: Message edited by: mydakota ]

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I would invest in a chiro first and a mounting block second. This really does sound like a pain issue. Every second you are hanging on his side trying to get up you are putting torque on him. He knows it is going to hurt and tries to evade. If he was mine, I would get the chiro out to tend to the root problem. Then I would probably mount the next half dozen times or so with a header and a block, so that he can learn that mounting doesn't hurt anymore. Then I would put the block by a fence corner so that he can't move more than a step or so away and mount from the block by myself. If he really insists on moving, he can still go backwards instead of over you. But he can't easily go sideways.

Whenever I mount Dakota, I always have him stand still for about 15 seconds, then back him 3 steps before I ask him to him walk off. This minimizes any inclination he might have to walk off before I am settled. He has stood like a gentleman, all by himself without a header, for mounting since about his 3rd mount.

Just to add though, it really does sound like he is anticipating discomfort. I would get that looked at first.

[ 06-10-2008, 01:16 PM: Message edited by: mydakota ]

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The fact that DJ stands "perfectly peachy" when someone holds him lends me to believe this is a training problem. Since I'm not seeing your mounting technique I'll guess it could use some improvement but either way, you are making him uncomfortable in some way. It could be mental or physical but certainly he has associated the mounting experience with going to work. The other clue about his behavior that stands out is "It began one evening where it was really nice out and I was feeling in the mood to ride." This to me sounds like you do not ride with any regularity. Now realize that horse's like routines and any time you try and ask a horse to do something he does not do often has potential for resistence.

I think there is a hole in your foundation ground work and that is where I would start working on the problem. I hate to sound like I am dismissing pain but why would he not react similarly when someone holds him? Wouldn't he still be antsy and show the signs of discomfort then too?

I think I would at the least investigate all the options by having a friend hold the horse or better still, you hold the horse. Let someone athletic mount and dismount repeatedly and watch his ears and body language for clues to his condition. If they can mount and dismount and he starts to get bored and relaxed about it, then it's either training or the way YOU mount. Then switch places and see what you can get by mounting yourself. That should help you correclty identify the problem. Saddle fit, the wrong sized girth strap, burrs or debris or defects in the saddle tree or even poor grooming prior to tacking up could all be factors. Someone else mentioned to ask the horse to "square up" prior to putting a toe in and this too is important. If he isn't ready for your weight and is unbalanced, of course he is going to have to move a bit to steady you both.

If all your mounting experiments go smoothly with an assistant then I think training is the only thing left. Now, how do you make your horse responsible for his feet? I think this starts with effective ground work and demonstrating to him that you can control those feet and move them. Snappy, responsive hind quarter disengagements is the place to start. Then be sure he backs up willingly. Then work on sending him by offering a direction with one hand (holding the long lead) and pressure from the other (or a tool to aid in creating energy (rope or whip or training stick)). When your horse learns your active body language and responds to it, they are also learning your passive body language. Passive is an offer to stand still and relax. If your active language is effective, any time you show passive language your horse should learn quickly that he can rest. This is the time to desensitize him (sacking out) to your tools, a long soft rope or even your saddle pad or a small manageable tarp. While your body is saying "relax and stand still" it should not matter what you are doing. Your horse should take his cues from your body language and allow you to rub him all over with anything. If he gets nervous and has to move, move with him and keep rubbing in the same spot and just follow. When he stops and relaxs, you stop the pressure. Now in sensitizing it's the opposite so don't get the two techniques confused. When you are sensitizing your horse you create pressure to ask your horse to move and you stop when he responds. To desentize you only stop the pressure when he stands still and relaxes. Make sure you are clear on these two points because I see people do it backwards all the time. For instance, you want to touch your horses poll for a head down cue but he doesn't like his ears touched. You reach up, he swings his head around and you retreat. What did he just learn? Do you see how important it is to not quit until you have the correct answer.

So back to your mounting problem. You put a toe in the stirrup and your horse moves. The way to change this after doing what has already been checked out, is tack up with your saddle but keep your halter and a long lead rope on the horse's head. Go to the mounting block or where ever you usually mount and do some lateral flexing. Just ask for his head and wait until he gives and is soft with one rein (cause that's all you have), to the side. Let him create his own slack in the lead and then drop it. Reward his give but wait for it and don't reward if he moves his feet. Be patient if you have never done this. Do both sides as always with a training exercise. Now tip his nose toward you and hold it while you put your toe in the stirrup. If he moves, I suggest moving him more than he wanted by disengaging his hind end with high energy and making the correction hard work. Think to yourself, if you don't want to stand still then I would be happy to make your feet hustle. This has to be work so that the offer to stand still is easier. After some healthy feet moving by just going around in disengagement or some on the spot lunging, go back to the block and start again. The other method you can use if he moves is to reinforce your "WHOA!" by jerking his head a few times with energy and backing him up a few steps. Then come back to the block and begin again. You can experiment with either but remember you are trying to make the right thing easy, the wrong thing hard.

When you can put your toe in and he relaxes then you retreat. (Don't mount, just reward him by taking out the foot and rubbing him all over) Make mounting a pleasant experience. Then put in a toe and haul up straight. If you can balance this I would lean over and rub him all over on his off side. If he stands nicely, get back down and reward. Do it again. The mounting process is often over looked in training as just a brief transition but alot is happening in that moment for our horses. The leader is no longer in front and offering guidance, a whole lot of weight is transferred to the horses feet, and now much of the communication is coming at them from reins and straight into their mouth via a bit. So I find it helpful to break the whole transition down into steps and use approach and retreat to build up a horses's confidence so they know nothing bad is happening and reward them at each step for trying. When I believe they know what they should be doing, then it is important to be the leader and correct them for doing the wrong thing.

Lastly, when you get through this retraining you want to help keep it good by NEVER walking off until you are ready to do so. Mount up and just start rubbing. Then flex a little bit on both sides. Ask for some verticle flexing. Adjust your saddle and make sure you and the horse seem comfortable. Only then should you ask for movement and honestly asking for a back up or something besides forward. By doing this religously, your horse will not anticipate, "Rider up, Let's go!" because that never happens. By doing all the rubbing and spending time just being up there, a horse can start looking foward to mounting instead of dreading it. If he chooses to take a step, back him up 3 and try and put him right back where you started and begin the rubbing and flexing all over. Be patient and let him learn patience.

See if this helps but by all means pay attention to your horse's reactions and keep pain or a sore spot in your mind. Inspect all your equipment for defects or debris and perhaps ask someone else with more experience about how your saddle fits your horse and perhaps what you might be able to do to improve your mounting technique.

Then just remember to have fun and RIDE more often.

William (historyrider)

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The fact that DJ stands "perfectly peachy" when someone holds him lends me to believe this is a training problem. Since I'm not seeing your mounting technique I'll guess it could use some improvement but either way, you are making him uncomfortable in some way. It could be mental or physical but certainly he has associated the mounting experience with going to work. The other clue about his behavior that stands out is "It began one evening where it was really nice out and I was feeling in the mood to ride." This to me sounds like you do not ride with any regularity. Now realize that horse's like routines and any time you try and ask a horse to do something he does not do often has potential for resistence.

I think there is a hole in your foundation ground work and that is where I would start working on the problem. I hate to sound like I am dismissing pain but why would he not react similarly when someone holds him? Wouldn't he still be antsy and show the signs of discomfort then too?

I think I would at the least investigate all the options by having a friend hold the horse or better still, you hold the horse. Let someone athletic mount and dismount repeatedly and watch his ears and body language for clues to his condition. If they can mount and dismount and he starts to get bored and relaxed about it, then it's either training or the way YOU mount. Then switch places and see what you can get by mounting yourself. That should help you correclty identify the problem. Saddle fit, the wrong sized girth strap, burrs or debris or defects in the saddle tree or even poor grooming prior to tacking up could all be factors. Someone else mentioned to ask the horse to "square up" prior to putting a toe in and this too is important. If he isn't ready for your weight and is unbalanced, of course he is going to have to move a bit to steady you both.

If all your mounting experiments go smoothly with an assistant then I think training is the only thing left. Now, how do you make your horse responsible for his feet? I think this starts with effective ground work and demonstrating to him that you can control those feet and move them. Snappy, responsive hind quarter disengagements is the place to start. Then be sure he backs up willingly. Then work on sending him by offering a direction with one hand (holding the long lead) and pressure from the other (or a tool to aid in creating energy (rope or whip or training stick)). When your horse learns your active body language and responds to it, they are also learning your passive body language. Passive is an offer to stand still and relax. If your active language is effective, any time you show passive language your horse should learn quickly that he can rest. This is the time to desensitize him (sacking out) to your tools, a long soft rope or even your saddle pad or a small manageable tarp. While your body is saying "relax and stand still" it should not matter what you are doing. Your horse should take his cues from your body language and allow you to rub him all over with anything. If he gets nervous and has to move, move with him and keep rubbing in the same spot and just follow. When he stops and relaxs, you stop the pressure. Now in sensitizing it's the opposite so don't get the two techniques confused. When you are sensitizing your horse you create pressure to ask your horse to move and you stop when he responds. To desentize you only stop the pressure when he stands still and relaxes. Make sure you are clear on these two points because I see people do it backwards all the time. For instance, you want to touch your horses poll for a head down cue but he doesn't like his ears touched. You reach up, he swings his head around and you retreat. What did he just learn? Do you see how important it is to not quit until you have the correct answer.

So back to your mounting problem. You put a toe in the stirrup and your horse moves. The way to change this after doing what has already been checked out, is tack up with your saddle but keep your halter and a long lead rope on the horse's head. Go to the mounting block or where ever you usually mount and do some lateral flexing. Just ask for his head and wait until he gives and is soft with one rein (cause that's all you have), to the side. Let him create his own slack in the lead and then drop it. Reward his give but wait for it and don't reward if he moves his feet. Be patient if you have never done this. Do both sides as always with a training exercise. Now tip his nose toward you and hold it while you put your toe in the stirrup. If he moves, I suggest moving him more than he wanted by disengaging his hind end with high energy and making the correction hard work. Think to yourself, if you don't want to stand still then I would be happy to make your feet hustle. This has to be work so that the offer to stand still is easier. After some healthy feet moving by just going around in disengagement or some on the spot lunging, go back to the block and start again. The other method you can use if he moves is to reinforce your "WHOA!" by jerking his head a few times with energy and backing him up a few steps. Then come back to the block and begin again. You can experiment with either but remember you are trying to make the right thing easy, the wrong thing hard.

When you can put your toe in and he relaxes then you retreat. (Don't mount, just reward him by taking out the foot and rubbing him all over) Make mounting a pleasant experience. Then put in a toe and haul up straight. If you can balance this I would lean over and rub him all over on his off side. If he stands nicely, get back down and reward. Do it again. The mounting process is often over looked in training as just a brief transition but alot is happening in that moment for our horses. The leader is no longer in front and offering guidance, a whole lot of weight is transferred to the horses feet, and now much of the communication is coming at them from reins and straight into their mouth via a bit. So I find it helpful to break the whole transition down into steps and use approach and retreat to build up a horses's confidence so they know nothing bad is happening and reward them at each step for trying. When I believe they know what they should be doing, then it is important to be the leader and correct them for doing the wrong thing.

Lastly, when you get through this retraining you want to help keep it good by NEVER walking off until you are ready to do so. Mount up and just start rubbing. Then flex a little bit on both sides. Ask for some verticle flexing. Adjust your saddle and make sure you and the horse seem comfortable. Only then should you ask for movement and honestly asking for a back up or something besides forward. By doing this religously, your horse will not anticipate, "Rider up, Let's go!" because that never happens. By doing all the rubbing and spending time just being up there, a horse can start looking foward to mounting instead of dreading it. If he chooses to take a step, back him up 3 and try and put him right back where you started and begin the rubbing and flexing all over. Be patient and let him learn patience.

See if this helps but by all means pay attention to your horse's reactions and keep pain or a sore spot in your mind. Inspect all your equipment for defects or debris and perhaps ask someone else with more experience about how your saddle fits your horse and perhaps what you might be able to do to improve your mounting technique.

Then just remember to have fun and RIDE more often.

William (historyrider)

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One quick thought: when you put your toe in, are you jabbing him with it inadvertantly? Or, as you stand in the stirrup for a minute, maybe you do, and now he's anticipating that?

One thing that works wonders is sugar [Wink] We've had the "food rewards" and "treating from the saddle" debates here before, but I give a piece of sugar every time I mount. Initially though, it's only a piece of sugar if the horse stands well. If they walk off, no treat. They learn pretty quick that mounting = sugar = GOOD, and will stand forever [Wink]

My last thought is this: After I had been riding my girl for a few weeks, I became a little complacent with her willingness to stand for mounting. Some days were better than others, usually didn't take more than a few tries, and so long as she stood long enough for me to swing a leg oer I didn't worry about it. Then I watched a video from the year before. She was just being introduced to tack, and rider. I'd put the saddle on, beat on the saddle, drop the stirrups against her side, stand in a stirrup, hang over her side, stand in the stirrups some more, etc. All the usual stuff. What shocked me most was that she stood stock still, attentive and relaxed, for all SEVENTEEN MINUTES of this video. That's a LONG time to stand at the mounting block. And more than once I'd stand in one stirrup for an extended period of time, even shifting my weight around. It really woke me up to the fact that (assuming there's no pain!), my horse was perfectly capable for standing still for as LONG as it took me to mount. I just needed to remind her (and myself) of that. Food for thought [Wink]

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One quick thought: when you put your toe in, are you jabbing him with it inadvertantly? Or, as you stand in the stirrup for a minute, maybe you do, and now he's anticipating that?

One thing that works wonders is sugar [Wink] We've had the "food rewards" and "treating from the saddle" debates here before, but I give a piece of sugar every time I mount. Initially though, it's only a piece of sugar if the horse stands well. If they walk off, no treat. They learn pretty quick that mounting = sugar = GOOD, and will stand forever [Wink]

My last thought is this: After I had been riding my girl for a few weeks, I became a little complacent with her willingness to stand for mounting. Some days were better than others, usually didn't take more than a few tries, and so long as she stood long enough for me to swing a leg oer I didn't worry about it. Then I watched a video from the year before. She was just being introduced to tack, and rider. I'd put the saddle on, beat on the saddle, drop the stirrups against her side, stand in a stirrup, hang over her side, stand in the stirrups some more, etc. All the usual stuff. What shocked me most was that she stood stock still, attentive and relaxed, for all SEVENTEEN MINUTES of this video. That's a LONG time to stand at the mounting block. And more than once I'd stand in one stirrup for an extended period of time, even shifting my weight around. It really woke me up to the fact that (assuming there's no pain!), my horse was perfectly capable for standing still for as LONG as it took me to mount. I just needed to remind her (and myself) of that. Food for thought [Wink]

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Hi there. This is such a common issue, and one people don't readily address. I see so many horses move off when their riders mount, and the riders just accomodate it. Sounds like a behavior issue if he stands quietly when held. The mounting block is a great idea. Just stand on it. Have your reins looped up around the horn and the second he starts to move off, pull and back him up and say WHOA!... You have to be experienced enough to back him from the ground. If not, let another do it. Every time he flinches, back him up... while you are on the ground. This is work and eventually he will whoa and stand still while you stand on the mounting block. Then sometimes get on, sometimes don't... make it an unknown for him. Then, he will probably stand til your butt hits the saddle. If he moves off then, same thing while you are on him, WHOA! and back him up. Make it work for him, back him up ten feet. Then pitch him the reins and invite him to move again. Be very consistent, no rein pressure. Even one step gets a ten foot back up. Then when he does stay put, finally, with SLACK reins, ALWAYS make him stand there, at least 3 minutes, before you move off. This way he gets it programmed in his head that there will be nothing going on for a while. You will be surprised how quickly this will right this issue. Good luck, and what a pleasure it is to get on a willingly quiet pony. Sincerely, Jak

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Hi there. This is such a common issue, and one people don't readily address. I see so many horses move off when their riders mount, and the riders just accomodate it. Sounds like a behavior issue if he stands quietly when held. The mounting block is a great idea. Just stand on it. Have your reins looped up around the horn and the second he starts to move off, pull and back him up and say WHOA!... You have to be experienced enough to back him from the ground. If not, let another do it. Every time he flinches, back him up... while you are on the ground. This is work and eventually he will whoa and stand still while you stand on the mounting block. Then sometimes get on, sometimes don't... make it an unknown for him. Then, he will probably stand til your butt hits the saddle. If he moves off then, same thing while you are on him, WHOA! and back him up. Make it work for him, back him up ten feet. Then pitch him the reins and invite him to move again. Be very consistent, no rein pressure. Even one step gets a ten foot back up. Then when he does stay put, finally, with SLACK reins, ALWAYS make him stand there, at least 3 minutes, before you move off. This way he gets it programmed in his head that there will be nothing going on for a while. You will be surprised how quickly this will right this issue. Good luck, and what a pleasure it is to get on a willingly quiet pony. Sincerely, Jak

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Assuming that it is not pain related, not standing for mounting is generally not hard to fix.

The first thing I do with a youngster for mounting is teach them to move over to me when I stand on anything. I have no intention of dragging a mounting block to the horse - the horse needs to move to the mounting block. I usually climb up on a fence so that I am at least level with his head, and carry a dressage whip. Your horse will probably stand perpendicular to you, wondering what you are doing. Constantly tap your horse's off side with the whip until he takes a step toward you that brings his barrel closer to you. Praise and repeat until all you have to do is point and/or ask with a specific kiss cue, and he moves his hind end over to you so that he is in position to be mounted - and stands quietly. A few short sessions of this are about all you should need. Once your horse learns this, you should be able to climb on a bucket, fence, stump, trailer, whatever, and he should move over to you and stand quietly.

Because I am usually doing this with an unbroke horse, I will pat the opposite side and lay across the horse's back as part of the breaking process. If your horse is going to move, I'd suggest skipping that part for now and work on teaching your horse to stand quietly for mounting first.

I had a little guy, Sampson, who came to me with awful habits, one of which was moving off while being mounted. Be prepared to mount and unmount many times for this - if it is not something you can comfortably and quickly do from the ground, have someone else do this part - which is essentially teaching the one rein stop. I generally don't do this for unbroke horses because if they don't learn to walk off to start with, they will just stand still.

First, take the inside rein (snaffle bit) and bring the horse's head around to the side. Don't crank it hard, just bring his head around and hold it. If he stands still like this for a couple seconds, great, release and praise. Most likely, he will move his feet at some point. Hold the saddle if you must to stay steady, but continue holding his head around until his feet stop moving. Release immediately and praise. Repeat, repeat, repeat. Do this on both sides with you standing on the side you are pulling on, and then move on to pulling the head around on the opposite side. No matter what side you pull on or where you are, your horse's feet should stop moving. Try walking forward and while walking, pull his head around until he stops. Stand in a position to mount, pull his head around and move the saddle around - flap the stirrups, shake the saddle, etc, release him if/when he stands still. Now make sure he doesn't just walk off when you release. He is to continue to stand, regardless of how much you fiddle with the saddle, until you tell him otherwise.

Now begin mounting this way. Start by bringing his head around (try to make sure he is square - if he's not, you are setting him up for failure.) a little and as soon as he moves, bring it around fully and hold it until he stops. Settle in the saddle and then as long as he is standing still, quickly get off. You may have to be able to pull his head around while in the middle of swinging your leg over, and you may have to do it a few times for each mount until you can get off. Be firm and consistent. Correct each and every step he takes. Work up the time he stands still until you can get on, wiggle around, get and release your stirrups, fix your hair, whatever, and he doesn't move. He should stand still for dismounting too. Basically all you have to remember is that if he moves at anytime during your mounting or adjusting in the saddle, his head is pulled around and he either gets to move in a tiny circle with his nose near your knee or he can stand still and be released.

When I worked with Sampson on this, we did it for about 45 minutes the first day, and then just 10 the next, and after that he pretty much stood still. Just be consistent. Even if he stands for 5 days straight, if he moves on the 6th day, repeat the correction. Don't think "oh he's been so good the last 5 times, I'll let him get away with it this time" because you will be on your way to ruining all your hard work.

Now you can go back to regular mounting and combine the cues for 'move over to me to get on' and 'stand still while I get on.'

Here is a video that shows how I get up on a fence and ask the horse to move over. Not the best, but the only one I have. It's in the first 30 seconds of the video, and you can clearly see how he moves his hindquarters over to me.

-

And here is the finished mount on Sampson.

-

Edited to add: I choose not to use food, because I don't stuff my pockets with it on trails or at shows and if I need to get off and on for a gate, or any other reason, I wouldn't have the food with me. I do however, always have a pat and good words to say. While it is popular, I also don't back the horses up, because I generally work with youngsters and I don't want to make them resistant in the jaw by pulling them straight back with both reins. I do use backing up as a correction for some things, but when I do, I use only one rein. Backing with both reins is not something I would suggest as a correction for your horse because you stated he is already very soft and sensitive in the mouth. You don't want to startle or scare him by strongly pulling him backwards. JMO.

[ 06-11-2008, 01:20 PM: Message edited by: pegasus431 ]

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Assuming that it is not pain related, not standing for mounting is generally not hard to fix.

The first thing I do with a youngster for mounting is teach them to move over to me when I stand on anything. I have no intention of dragging a mounting block to the horse - the horse needs to move to the mounting block. I usually climb up on a fence so that I am at least level with his head, and carry a dressage whip. Your horse will probably stand perpendicular to you, wondering what you are doing. Constantly tap your horse's off side with the whip until he takes a step toward you that brings his barrel closer to you. Praise and repeat until all you have to do is point and/or ask with a specific kiss cue, and he moves his hind end over to you so that he is in position to be mounted - and stands quietly. A few short sessions of this are about all you should need. Once your horse learns this, you should be able to climb on a bucket, fence, stump, trailer, whatever, and he should move over to you and stand quietly.

Because I am usually doing this with an unbroke horse, I will pat the opposite side and lay across the horse's back as part of the breaking process. If your horse is going to move, I'd suggest skipping that part for now and work on teaching your horse to stand quietly for mounting first.

I had a little guy, Sampson, who came to me with awful habits, one of which was moving off while being mounted. Be prepared to mount and unmount many times for this - if it is not something you can comfortably and quickly do from the ground, have someone else do this part - which is essentially teaching the one rein stop. I generally don't do this for unbroke horses because if they don't learn to walk off to start with, they will just stand still.

First, take the inside rein (snaffle bit) and bring the horse's head around to the side. Don't crank it hard, just bring his head around and hold it. If he stands still like this for a couple seconds, great, release and praise. Most likely, he will move his feet at some point. Hold the saddle if you must to stay steady, but continue holding his head around until his feet stop moving. Release immediately and praise. Repeat, repeat, repeat. Do this on both sides with you standing on the side you are pulling on, and then move on to pulling the head around on the opposite side. No matter what side you pull on or where you are, your horse's feet should stop moving. Try walking forward and while walking, pull his head around until he stops. Stand in a position to mount, pull his head around and move the saddle around - flap the stirrups, shake the saddle, etc, release him if/when he stands still. Now make sure he doesn't just walk off when you release. He is to continue to stand, regardless of how much you fiddle with the saddle, until you tell him otherwise.

Now begin mounting this way. Start by bringing his head around (try to make sure he is square - if he's not, you are setting him up for failure.) a little and as soon as he moves, bring it around fully and hold it until he stops. Settle in the saddle and then as long as he is standing still, quickly get off. You may have to be able to pull his head around while in the middle of swinging your leg over, and you may have to do it a few times for each mount until you can get off. Be firm and consistent. Correct each and every step he takes. Work up the time he stands still until you can get on, wiggle around, get and release your stirrups, fix your hair, whatever, and he doesn't move. He should stand still for dismounting too. Basically all you have to remember is that if he moves at anytime during your mounting or adjusting in the saddle, his head is pulled around and he either gets to move in a tiny circle with his nose near your knee or he can stand still and be released.

When I worked with Sampson on this, we did it for about 45 minutes the first day, and then just 10 the next, and after that he pretty much stood still. Just be consistent. Even if he stands for 5 days straight, if he moves on the 6th day, repeat the correction. Don't think "oh he's been so good the last 5 times, I'll let him get away with it this time" because you will be on your way to ruining all your hard work.

Now you can go back to regular mounting and combine the cues for 'move over to me to get on' and 'stand still while I get on.'

Here is a video that shows how I get up on a fence and ask the horse to move over. Not the best, but the only one I have. It's in the first 30 seconds of the video, and you can clearly see how he moves his hindquarters over to me.

-

And here is the finished mount on Sampson.

-

Edited to add: I choose not to use food, because I don't stuff my pockets with it on trails or at shows and if I need to get off and on for a gate, or any other reason, I wouldn't have the food with me. I do however, always have a pat and good words to say. While it is popular, I also don't back the horses up, because I generally work with youngsters and I don't want to make them resistant in the jaw by pulling them straight back with both reins. I do use backing up as a correction for some things, but when I do, I use only one rein. Backing with both reins is not something I would suggest as a correction for your horse because you stated he is already very soft and sensitive in the mouth. You don't want to startle or scare him by strongly pulling him backwards. JMO.

[ 06-11-2008, 01:20 PM: Message edited by: pegasus431 ]

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