Two training questions for discussion
Just interested to hear how "you've" worked threw these issues, there are obviously many ways and more than one has worked for me depending on which horse I've been training. Thought it could make for curious discussion.
1) How do you find best to train a horse to stand quietly for mounting or to use a mounting block?
And on the other end of the spectrum...
2) How have you found best to train a horse to ride out alone with no worries and mis-haps?
Im responding to #2.
If you mean no worries or mis-haps as being your horse is a perfect, then there is no such thing. Horses no matter how "bomb proof" or "well behaved" they are are unpredictable. You could have a 100% child safe horse blow up and freak out because of the smallest thing, out of no where. First off YOU must be comfortable riding out alone and have the confidence to do so. Its not the best idea mind you considering there are countless things that could happen and no one would be around to help you. Personally i would start out riding with a friend and gradually build up the horses confidence by leading infront of the other horse. Once the horse has been going good with leading (after several rides) i would take him/her out by him/herself. Now when i say going good i mean going threw creeks and streams first, going threw mud first, going over bridges first, and having no problem doing so. When i do eventually take my horse out by itself i take my trail dog, my phone, and a knife. You never can be too careful and cautious when your riding by yourself. Really in my opinion if you want to train a horse to ride out alone you just gotta go out there and do it. Practice makes perfect.
I've actually been working on question number 1 with my horse. First I tell him to whoa in a nice firm voice. Then I use my weight to rock him from side to side (i'm using my body to push him back and forth which makes him go side to side). I do this until he braces his back legs. I want him to be as still as possible and ready for me to mount. I then put my leg in the stirrup and pretend to get up and move the stirrup around and use my weight against the saddle. If he stands perfectly still I will go ahead and get on and make him stand for a minute. (My instructor says he needs to understand that I need time to make adjustments such as stirrups, etc. before he walks off and he can only walk off when I ask him to.) Once he has stood for a minute or two, I will get off and walk him forward and start all over again. Luckily, Dancer catches on pretty quick so I only had to do it 5 times before he knew what was expected of him. I plan on working on this more, though, until I know its down pat. I hope that helps.
1) I take the time and just wait. Stand on the block, make sure my horse isn't sleeping (:shock::-)) and maybe tap her butt with a stick. Then wait. Eventually she'll move, and I tell her Good Girl. It's sort of like clicker training, I believe. It doesn't take too long, actually, before she's close enough to put a foot over, or into a stirrup. I don't, not at first, but I DO give a treat when she's that close. Once they get the treat, they learn very fast to start moving to the right spot. When they hear it's "GOOD!" they will usually stop and swing a head around; if they move, I just wait, silently, until they get in postition again. Hm, takes a lot of time, but we do it on muddy days, not much else going on.
2) Agree with .Delete, so much depends on the horse, and whether YOU like riding out alone. I hate it :-( but I tell myself I can dismount whenever I want, and my horses lead quite well. So the stress level stays low.
1. Teach the horse what "whoa" means. Walk them to the mounting block. Say "whoa" and get on. Don't allow them to move off until you say it's ok. If they do move off, correct them. In my training "whoa" means "do not move your ass until I say it's ok no matter what happens." That includes mounting.
I teach "whoa" by saying it, remaining close enough to correct (move them back to original spot), and making sure to not expect too much right away. If the horse can only stand for 10 seconds, I say "whoa", have them stand for 8-9 seconds, praise them, and ask them to move off. Same thing undersaddle. Make it easy for them to learn.
2. Ride, ride, ride, ride. Teach your horse yeilding forehand and hindquarters, flexing, one-rein stop, etc. Make sure you have the tools necessary to control your horse if they get scared and then get your butt out on the trail. If you don't have a "safe" way to get to a trail (i.e. you must ride on a busy highway) work your horse by itself in the pasture/paddock for awhile, wander around your property, down the driveway, and on the gravel roads (if you have them).
Eh, I've hit a considerable stumbling block on both 1 and 2, although 1 is just with a particular horse who is a rescue so that's understandeable.
I can, however, tel you how I've fixed #1 with other horses in the past.
Teach your horse that when he relaxes the pressure goes away. Put your foot in the stirrup, and if he moves just sort of hop with him but don't try and drag yourself on. Once he stops moving and relaxes, take your foot out of the stirrup. Eventualy he learns that the pressure is released when he is relaxed but you keep threatening when he moves.
I have no answer to #2, unfortunately. I currently have two extremely herd bound horses that I can't cure, and they nearly dump me everytime I try to ride away from the group.
I had problems with both of these things with my horse.
The mounting, take it slowly. Ensure your horse knows how to stand still correctly and responds to 'woah' or whatever single you use to make him stand. Make sure your horse is comfortable with standing alongside the block with you on the ground, build it up to you standing on the block. When you do mount him, MAKE SURE HE STANDS STILL. It's the height of bad manners for a horse to walk off as soon as your bum hits the saddle.
If your horse won't stand still to mount [like mine used to] mount him along side a fence/wall. Gradually move the block further and further away from the wall. If he starts monkeying around, move it back in a bit, before moving it back out again. This really did work for me, I can now mount my horse from anywhere in the yard without him moving.
Going out along is actually quite a big thing if you aren't used to doing it or are riding a young/nappy/spooky horse. As someone else said, you need to have the confidence yourself. If you aren't comfortable riding out along, your horse isn't going to be. Start by going out with an older, more experianced horse, leading file. Get your horse used to any particularly spooky situations and objects. You want to build up his confidence. You can gradually build this up to your horse leading. It's good to make him walk in front and behind so he gets used to doing both.
You can build up to going out with someone else on foot and then eventually go out on your own.
And remember manners! Standing nicely for cars going past, allowing you to dismount and remount, going through gates, behaving on large open fields. These are all very useful skills for when you're out and about.
So, of course with my luck, after posting this, Dancer decided to be a punk and not stand still for mounting today! =o( He was really trying my patience. I finally had to get my mom to hold him still so I could mount....I realize that he technically won but I was getting frustrated and we weren't going anywhere...I tried to back him up and keep his feet moving and then lunging and disengaging hindquarters but he kept backing up when I went to mount....he did let me mount him 20 minutes before this with no problems so I don't get it...maybe he just had an off day...we'll see how this weekend goes
Question #1. I carry horse cookies. I park the horse where I want him, mount up, and give him a cookie. Pretty soon he won't move until he gets his cookie. Sure, he will walk off the first couple of times, but if he gets a cookie everytime you mount, pretty soon he has the patience of a saint. I have taught two horses to stand that way, and now I have all my friends doing it as well. :lol:
Question #2. This is much harder. Some horses are terribly herd bound and some aren't. So when I buy a horse, after a bad experience buying the wrong horse, I now make sure EVERY potential horse I buy will ride alone. It's a deal breaker! I think a confident, well trained horse, with lots of trail miles, should ride alone. The problem is, some horses are not confident, don't trust their rider, don't trust themselves, and don't want to leave home. Maybe they were good at one time and someone let them set for years and they bonded with their herd mates. Now you have a horse that won't leave the herd. Ugh! I don't want to deal with a horse like that. I just don't have the skills and fearlessness to deal with it. :-( I don't care if they whinny a time or two, or if they are a little slower going out and a little quicker coming home, but I will only own a horse that rides alone.
I will use sending exercises around the mounting block, eventually bringing the horse to stand next to it, but not standing on the block yet. I want him to get used to the concept of just standing near it quietly. When he will stand next to the block or whatever I choose to use as a mounting block, I will then start standing on the block, and start doing sending exercises again, eventually bringing the horse to a stand still next to the block, and then rubbing him, patting the saddle, banging stirrups and what not (should note that I would have also done prior desenstization with saddle, ropes, etc, before moving onto doing them with the block...). If the horse moves away from the block at any time I will just resume sending him back and forth near it, and eventually bring him to rest next to it again. Basically I use a approach and retreat type method, and teach the horse that standing next to the block quietly no matter what I do to him there, is easier than having to move his feet. For each horse it may be different, timewise...some may take one 15 minute session to really become solid, and others it may take several sessions to retain what is being taught.
#2... For this one it's going to depend on whether the horse has had prior issues before. If it's just a young horse, and has no known issues, I will simply just start riding off; short distances at first, and gradually longer. Usually if the horse is comfortable with you as his leader, you really should have no issues ever. The key is to be consistent from the beginning in what you want, and establishing respect from the ground up.
Now, if a horse has issues with leaving the barn already, I will start with gaining his respect from the ground (in case I have to dismount to work him later...I want to know he's not going to run over the top of me, or try to kick out at me). Many times, if you establish respect from the ground, a horse may not even attempt his prior 'barn sourness' issues, as well...especially if you have a good solid 1 to 2 weeks JUST to spend on ground work. However, like some horses I've worked with, ground work and gaining respect from the ground, isn't enough. So if it isn't start by riding a short distance away from the barn or corral and stop him before he gets antzy pants, let him rest there for a few moments, and take him back to the barn. If he gets antzy, or rude about going back to the barn, then take him back there, and put his butt to work...HARD! If he wants to be at the barn or corral, then make it extremely uncomfortable for him by working his tail off. When he is panting pretty good, move him off a short distance away from the barn and let him rest AWAY from the barn. You are basically retraining his mind to want to be away from the barn when you are on him, rather than wanting to be at the barn. If being at the barn means hard work, he will figure out quickly that being at the barn is not a very fun place to be. Oh, and if he is one of those that tends to get snarky about being worked at the barn, get off, and work his tail off instead...either way, the barn has to be the unpleasant place to be, and he will soon figure that out. But you have to not be afraid to make him sweat...really...the harder you can work him at the barn, the quicker he will "get it".
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