Mounting Block Milestone (Poossible tips for others?)
I hit a milestone yesterday. The horse is an OTTB who was trained for the mounting block when the block was in the corner of the arena; he would stand perfectly still for mounting. However, move the block into the center of the ring and he would turn and face you each time you tried to mount. After finally gettting one of our indoor arenas to myself yesterday, I was finally able to attack this little "problem." It took a hair over an hour and a combination of treats and getting "mean" but we got it. He finally stood still for me to get on, I then walked him for about 10 minutes doing some lateral exerices. I dismounted, went back to the mounting block (to reinforce). He took a half step back, (moved one foot). I repositioned the foot and was able to mount, again with no movement.
I started out by just bring fussy about where and how he was standing. I made him square up next to the mounting block and just stand there. Once he stood there for a couple of minutes I gave him a treat, walked him away and repositioned him to the block. After a few turns at this, I then moved on to being able to get to his side without him rocking and stepping back. Same thing, a lot of fussing about position. Next step was touching the iron while gently bringing the reins back, almost like getting ready to mount..here is where it got mean as everytime I touched the iron and shortened the reins the least bit, he would back up...so I let him back...fast and to the opposite end of the arena. This took a few repeats before I could finally get him to stand while touching the iron, adding weight to it by pulling down, flopping it on the saddle etc as well as having a hold on the reins.
The next step, was just having him hold still while I stood on the borttom step of the block....worked my way up to the top of the block and if he moved, I repositioned. Final step he got stupid and just plain stubborn so I unstubborned him by making him spin..yielding his hindquarters..and working towards his weaker side to get some of that loosening at the same time. Three sets of spins later and I repositioned him, just about ready to give up as long as he stood still for a few minutes with me standing on top of the block with my hand on the saddle. Lo and behold I was able to actually mount..he stood rock still. I rubbed on him and praised him like there was no tomorrow and gave him another treat while I was in the saddle...forcing him to flex to the left to get it of course :). I had him stand for a minute or two and then walked him off and did some suppling exercises, then, holding my breath, dismounted and repositioned at the block. He took a half step back when I got on the block but I got down, repositioned the leg and got back on the block..I was able to mount a second time with him again standing rock still. I stayed on him for a few minutes, rubbing and acting like he had just won the Derby, before I dismounted again.
Now, he was in an indoor arena, by himself with no distractions but hey, it is progress. :)