Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: southern Arizona
Horse started jumping sideways on dismount
About a year ago, my wife slipped while dismounting our gelding and fell under him. Trooper jumped to one side. The next dismount, Trooper apparently decided that jumping sideways was the best way to make sure a person wouldn't fall under him. After about 4-5 spectacular dismounts, I got my wife to come out with carrots to feed him during dismounts. He still jumped sideways, but not as far...and after another dozen or so dismounts of diminishing jumps, he finally decided it was easier to just stand still again. After about a dozen quiet dismounts, we weaned him from the carrots.
A couple of days ago, when I dismounted our mare Mia, my left toe caught up on the rear edge of the stirrup bar for a moment. Didn't get stuck, I just pulled it out and thought no more of it. Mia seemed a little startled, but not much.
Today, when I dismounted, Mia jumped a couple feet to the side. I landed on my feet, figured that wasn't a good time to stop, and got back on. We went about 5 minutes, and when I dismounted, she jumped further to the side. Hmmm...got back on, rode about 5 minutes, and she did the same thing.
Got back on, rode another 5 minutes, and when I shifted my weight to the left stirrup, she jumped. I spent the next 45 minutes trying to calm her down - trotting fast, circles, disengages, stops...she was completely obedient, unless I started to slide my right foot back out of the stirrup. Then she'd jump sideways.
In the end, my oldest daughter came out and I had her fetch a carrot. She fed the carrot to Mia, and that was enough for me to get my right leg on the left side before Mia jumped 3 feet over. I've had more practice at landing on my feet from a sideways jumping horse than I really want, so I landed on my feet.
I think sometimes the training principle of making the wrong thing hard backfires on Arabians. Sometimes it seems to spin them up and make it a big deal...so I simply called her name. She came over, I told her she was silly, then I removed the tack, cleaned her and returned her to her corral.
Right now, I'm planning on trying our carrot approach with Mia and see if it will work the same as it did with Trooper. In Mia's defense, she never once pinned ears, swished tail, tossed head or in any way I know of acted angry...she just has decided that dismounts are scary.
Does anyone have any ideas on other options? No one has ever called me graceful, and flying dismounts...well, I don't want to do any more than needed.
Also, has anyone else had the idea of making the wrong thing difficult go backwards with a horse? I sometimes think both my horses (Arabian mare, 3/4 Arabian gelding) do better if you simply pretend the wrong behavior didn't happen. Noticing it seems to make it bigger in their minds, and bigger is scarier. Does that make any sense?