Horse started jumping sideways on dismount - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 5 Old 02-22-2011, 10:20 PM Thread Starter
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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. 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 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?
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post #2 of 5 Old 02-22-2011, 10:59 PM
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I totally understand what you are saying.

A lesson I learnt from my Uncle eons ago, was sorta the same idea, kinda. He used to own and run his own APHA farm in Saskatchewan Saskatoon. Every summer I would go out to work with him and his horses and help as much as I could.

Anyways, I remember I made a mountain out of a mole hill with a yearling, and my uncle told me this story....

He told me about how he was breaking this one young horse, and after a lot of time on the ground and in the round pen, he decided to venture out on the trails as being the next step.

The horse was doing quite well, until they came across this one path where an old tree stump was, that was burnt. The horse reacted to the stump, and my Uncle reacted. He finally was able to get the boy to go past the stump calmly and quietly, and then they moved onward.

Then the next day came, and they went down the same path, to the same stump, getting the same reaction he got the day before. Again, my uncle made a mountain out of a molehill and proceeded to try to "iron out the wrinkles" to eventually beable to walk past the stump without an issue...until again, the next day.

My Uncle finally realized that there was no point in reacting at all - just ignore the reaction and keep on going.

So that's what he did. He just ignored the reaction to the burnt stump, and guess what - the horse never spooked at that stump again. My uncle realized that it wasn't the stump that was the issue, it was the reaction he had to the horse reacting to the stump, that became the problem. The horse was anticipating the reaction from my uncle, at that spot - not the stump.

So, since then, I've learnt to just - let some things go.

I think you are quite knowledgeable and very experienced and I am certain you have more tricks up your sleeve than I do with situations like this - it was your last comment that made me post. I'm not much help.

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post #3 of 5 Old 02-22-2011, 11:26 PM
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Have you tried dismounting in the English style; removing your foot from the left stirrup before you slide down to the ground? Just be sure you are not hung up on the horn.
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post #4 of 5 Old 02-23-2011, 01:45 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by tinyliny View Post
Have you tried dismounting in the English style; removing your foot from the left stirrup before you slide down to the ground? Just be sure you are not hung up on the horn.
That is my normal dismount. I had tried some of the plastic stirrups, and the ride a couple of days ago became my last try...they are so light that they don't let go like a metal stirrup does. Or if they do, it is hard to feel the release. In a couple of rides of trying, I had already had to shake my left foot out.

So I thought my right foot was out, I dropped down, and my toe was still in the stirrup. It didn't hit or hurt her, but it surprised her (and me). So I had one foot on the ground and the other part way in the stirrup, and I removed it. Mia didn't jump, but she whipped her head around to look and I guess that she did the different = scary thing.

The plastic stirrups went to the trash, and today's ride was in my normal metal English stirrup combined with my Australian style saddle. Good thing, too, since today would have been a terrible day to have a toe stay in the stirrup!

The good news was that Mia didn't show any anger or attitude the entire ride. She just didn't want something scary happening at her side on a dismount. But my remounting and riding again was different, and seemed to be spinning her up instead of calming her down. If I could go back in time, I would just ignore what happened with the first dismount, tell her she was silly and go on about my business. Now I have to figure out how to undo what happened...
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post #5 of 5 Old 02-23-2011, 02:29 AM
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I know EXACTLY what you mean. I used to spend a lot of time undoing things I accidentally taught my Arabs to stress out over. It's almost like the first time they do something it's just a reaction. They don't necessarily have a logical reason for it or any reason at all. But when you revisit it with them they are like, "Wow, every time I go by this rock it makes my rider tense up and pull me around in a circle. This rock must be really bad."

If I go by a scary rock once and my horse balks, I try to just go around the rock in a different way that my horse accepts without making my horse feel it is a big deal. 99% of the time this completely cures the problem.

That's why when people advise others to do things like if their horse has an issue to "make them work," I like to put in a word of caution about it. With some horses this will make things much worse. My horses can get worked up about things and in this state they do not try to find the easy way out or a way to get to rest. Instead they will just ramp up more and more and Arabs are endurance horses - good luck outlasting their stamina.

There really is no one right way to train every horse. Sometimes you have to get really creative.

My first thought would be that for a few rides do a different type of dismount. Instead of getting off as usual, stop and stand for awhile. Then take one foot out of the stirrup and put it back in. Then take one foot out and swing your leg over the back and just stand in the stirrup, leaning over your horse for awhile before you actually step down. If your horse wants to take a step or gets upset I would just remain calm and not try to stop them from moving, just let them calm down naturally by you not reacting. All the time remaining calm and moving very slowly. This might remove the cue that your horse thinks was the cause of all the anxiety for both of you. You could also try riding up to a fence or a step stool before you get off and dismount onto something at a higher level for a few times.
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