Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: New South Wales, Australia
I started fixing this sort of issue with my new horse yesterday. Normally as soon as my foot is in the stirrup and my other has left the ground he's moving. Not his fault, just last owners I think jumped and said "go".
I use a bit of clicker type training (without clicker though) - but lots of people don't like that, still my method works without treating, just a little slower in my experience.
The way I see it is most horses have a certain point when they move. It might be when you climb on the block, gather the reins etc. Anyway I find that point and then go to before it. Horses know your routine and they'll tense up just before they move off.
Basically I work at the "tense" point until it's relaxed and then the next point becomes the "tense" point, then I relax it etc, but because I never move beyond the "tense" point they don't need to go to the action (walking away) point. Sometimes my horse starts to moving and I correct it, backing them to where they should be but then I continue with my method. For example when you rest your hand on the horn (or pommel) that might be the horses "get ready to move" point, so I rest my hand there maybe move it about, rock the saddle until they calm down and stop associating it with "tense up to move away". Then I might put my foot in stirrup always stopping before they move, doing it until they're relaxed and not thinking about moving. It worked in under five minutes for my horse, he was super calm to get on. I'll do it a few more times to reinforce it, but it's what worked for me.
This method works for me because it keeps my horse calm. Yielding and getting them to move their feet can work too, but in my experience it can also make them more alert, active, tensed even where as I like things, such as mounting, to always be calm. It's all just learned behaviour mostly, I figure I'll just teach my horse something else.