Mounting block wiggles and how to fix them - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 16 Old 04-07-2020, 09:27 AM Thread Starter
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Mounting block wiggles and how to fix them

The other day, I was invited to ride a cute young horse at the barn where I currently have a part-board. The owner of the young horse just doesn't have the time or energy to ride him as much as he needs. He has a good brain though and seems to just roll with everything, so I'm not nervous about him at all.

Well, she tacked him up, and led him into the indoor, and went straight to the mounting block, while saying that he's absolutely awful about standing still at the block but he's fine once you're on him. "I'll hold him and you hop up QUICK so he doesn't have a chance to move away!"

This is just one of many many many occasions where I've seen people try to deal with a horse with a "thing" about the mounting block by just... ignoring it and launching themselves onto the horse while someone tries from the ground to wrangle him into place long enough for the rider to basically take a flying leap on board.

I guess I just don't know... why people just continue to say "Oh he has a thing about it" instead of... fixing the thing? The tag-team-flying-leap mounting method just doesn't seem like it makes anyone happy. Anxious horse, handler, rider, and the danger of the horse going "OH HECK NO" in a big way at a prone moment.

She gave me permission to work with him on it and to ride him as much as I can, so yesterday, after riding my part-board horse, I grabbed him from the field and brought him in, just with a halter and lead line, and spent about 15 minutes on the block issue.

Tools:
Halter, lead line, dressage whip, pocket full of small treats, mounting block.

Step one:
Hand walk the horse around the arena for a bit until he settles in. Push over-eager horse's head away from your pocket repeatedly once he realizes it smells like mint. Realize that horse may in fact be part shark.

Step two:
Walk the horse up beside the mounting block. Stay up at his head. Use dressage whip to get his hindquarters lined up with it when he inevitably swings them out. Continue to remove horse nose from pocket. Give a treat once he's standing still by the block for a few seconds. Walk him off and repeat.

Step three:
Repeat step two, but keep horse lined up facing forward while you step back beside him onto the block. Horse-shark's nose will attempt to follow your minty pocket, leading to his quarters swinging away from the block. Walk horse off into several small quick circles. Repeat step two and attempt step three several more times. When you have figured out that the horse is fascinated by chewing on the dressage whip handle, use that as a distraction while you step into place on the mounting block. Feed some cookies. Repeat until horse will stand quietly while you move into place, without requiring a chew toy. More treats.

Step four:
Once steps one two and three are solid, put a few treats in your right hand. Reach over the back of the horse to the opposite side. Ideally, horse will realize that the treast are now on the other side. Wave treats around. Nudge horse on his right shoulder. Wait. Horse reaches around to the left instead, seeking pocket. Quarters swing out. Hop off block, walk in several small circles, repeat steps two and three, attempt step four again. Horse eventually finds cookies on right side. While feeding cookies on right side, put weight on his back, and pet him all over his right side. If he moves, move him off and start it all over again. If he stays, pets and more cookies.

At the end of fifteen minutes, he was very very very happy to line himself up at the mounting block, stand in place, and have me lean across his back, putting my weight on him, and handing him some cookies. Mmmm, cookies.

Next stage will involve all the preceding steps, but with tack on, and I'll put weight in the stirrup before he gets opposite-side cookies. Then me hopping on to give the cookies, then hopping off again and repeating. Then hopping on, asking for him to move off for a few steps, then cookies. And build and build and build from there.

No more flying-leap mounting, soon. Hopefully!

Last edited by SteadyOn; 04-07-2020 at 09:33 AM.
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post #2 of 16 Old 04-07-2020, 09:35 AM Thread Starter
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I also want to add that, during all of the above, the lead line was completely slack unless I was asking for him to do something. No pulling, no holding in place!
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post #3 of 16 Old 04-08-2020, 03:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SteadyOn View Post
Push over-eager horse's head away from your pocket repeatedly once he realizes it smells like mint. Realize that horse may in fact be part shark.
Sounds like you're doing well so far. Just a few tips to progress more smoothly, and also help turn this 'lesson' to something that will help him more easily learn anything else too...

I'd be inclined to work on basic manners & 'rules of play' separately first, as this can really get in the way & distract him from learning anything else, if he hasn't first learned. It's best not to teach more than one thing at once, or it gets confusing for a horse, so if you're trying to teach him to *earn* rewards & be polite about it, don't do it at the same time as teaching him to position himself or stand for mounting.

Instead of pushing him, which may not be an effective punishment(something he cares to avoid), I'd bump him on the nose or wherever, while 'marking' this behaviour (say 'uh-uh' or such, which, as linked with punishment, will come to mean 'stop, you've chosen the wrong answer') whenever he is in my space, be that nose at pocket or otherwise, and 'mark'(say 'good!' or such) & reward him for keeping his nose to himself. Once this is established, not only will he understand 'mugging' you is not in his best interest, but it will start the idea he must do something to *earn* a treat, so get him thinking about what you want.

Next, I'd teach him to yield to fingertip pressure, or using whip or stick to prod or tap lightly - actual physical pressure, wherever on his body - eg on his shoulder to get him to move his front end over, on his flank to move his hind end. As one of the things you want him to learn is moving himself towards you when you're beside/above him, I'd 'refine' those basic cues until he understands to yield fore or hind with your fingers at the side of his wither or at flank but high up near his spine.

Once he's solid at that, you can teach him to yield *towards* you with those cues. This is a bit tricky, that seems to be confusing at first for the horse, even if they yield very well otherwise. Just be in a position you can stay with it, wherever he moves, and of course, not get stepped on when he does move towards you! I'd also minimise Wrong answers by parking him in between yourself & a fence to begin with.


Quote:
while you step back beside him onto the block. Horse-shark's nose will attempt to follow your minty pocket, leading to his quarters swinging away from the block. Walk horse off into several small quick circles.
I'd be aiming to mark/reward him *before* he starts to move. So to begin with, that may mean only one single step to his side, but it will soon give him the idea he needs to stay still & you can teach him in baby steps to stand, wherever you are in relation to his body.

If/when he does move, rather than stopping what you're asking & doing something totally unrelated like circles, which may lead to his just seeing doing circles as meaningless punishment, I'd just 'mark' the Wrong behaviour('uh-uh'), reposition him & then reward him for being in the right place.

THEN you're ready to ask for it all at the mounting block.

Quote:
Once steps one two and three are solid, put a few treats in your right hand. Reach over the back of the horse to the opposite side. Ideally, horse will realize that the treast are now on the other side.
I like to teach young horses to 'ground drive's & part of that is to follow a rein aid even when it's coming from the opposite side you're on. So when you're doing something like that, you can use a light feel on the right rein to get him to turn his head that way.
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Last edited by loosie; 04-08-2020 at 06:12 PM.
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post #4 of 16 Old 04-08-2020, 05:52 PM
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I had one step and one step only - I told the horse “I have until midnight and I can outlast you”. It usually only took ~15 or so minutes.

I have trail ridden bareback most of my life and have never owned a mounting block. I was a trail rider and any horse of mine needed to learn to stand next to or down in anything.

I would sidle the horse up to anything - horse trailer fender, race car trailer fender, tail gate of the pick up, a gate, a downed tree, it didn’t matter. If the horse moved one inth, it circled and started again, until it it got wore out turning a circle and coming back to whatever I needed to stand on.

THENNNN, if the horse started to walk off before I asked, I got off and we started The whole process over again.

The lesson was quickly learned and very rarely did I ever have to do circles out on the trail.

I can pretty much guarantee, if I wanted to right now, I can put either of my two horses next to the race car trailer fender and neither of them will move off until I cue them —- they have not been ridden in 3-4 years.

I feel for the horse the OP is discussing. The owner of that young horse is already well on the way to ruining him. The OP needs to give the owner some lessons, elst the horse will quickly revert back to where it was when the OP started with it.

A Good Horseman Doesn't Have To Tell Anyone; The Horse Already Knows.

I CAN'T ride 'em n slide 'em. I HAVE to lead 'em n feed 'em Thnx cowchick77.
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post #5 of 16 Old 04-08-2020, 06:27 PM
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^yeah agree that hopefully Steady can also educate the owner. And agree the actual standing (wherever) for mounting is one 'step'. But I feel there are a few steps to get to that point that have been missed.

Yeah, I mostly trail ride, so a 'mounting block' is generally the back of the trailer, a log, stump, side of a ditch I put my horse in... And often, such as the doorway of the trailer, or a tight spot in the bush, I can't position the horse first, but have to get myself positioned & then ask the horse to swing his hips towards me, so I first teach that with direct, then implied pressure.
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post #6 of 16 Old 04-08-2020, 06:54 PM
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When I read "Mounting block wiggles" I thought the first thing is to get a more solid mounting block that doesn't wiggle when standing on it. I guess I have had a long day and not too sharp tonight.

what the others have said and one other thing I do is to spend time at the mounting block after riding as I find the horse is inclined to stop and stand as they are not thinking ok get on and lets go. I just spend time talking to them and some nice scratches and they are relaxed and don't mind standing there while I do this and it builds up to getting on and off a few times and no moving. I do this on both sides as out on the trails I might have to get on from the right side.

You sound like you made good progress with this horse.
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post #7 of 16 Old 04-08-2020, 07:01 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for all the tips!! :)

I will say, I was being a bit hyperbolic about aspects of it for comedy's sake. He actually wasn't being particularly rude or pushy about the treats. More just excited, and I did have to suggest that he, uh, chill out somewhat. Today I just had him stand quietly until he calmed down a little about the cookie smell before we did the next thing.

Today we practiced a "line up" cue to get him to place himself and his quarters in the right place. And I was able to pick up exactly where we left off last time! He stood like a statue, reached around expectantly for his cookie, and was content to hang out for a bit getting scratches and with me leaning my weight on him. Repeated that whole process several times.

Once that was all solid, I put my right leg over his back before he got his treat (but in such a way that I could still step back onto the block if he moved suddenly) and he stood like a rock for that, too! Never had tension in the lead.

The barn owner came in part way through to see how it was going. She's the one who has previously had to try to hold him still while his owner basically launched onto him. She was impressed!!

I think I'll wait until he's "finished" with the whole process before doing a reveal to his owner. If she can see how easy it can be with him, maybe she'll be less likely to try to hold him in place, or fight him, and undo the work going forward. She seems pretty open to ideas, and is very pleased to have someone putting some time into him!
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post #8 of 16 Old 04-11-2020, 02:32 PM Thread Starter
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And now for the third (and, for now, final?) part of the story:

I went up to ride him today, and his owner was there. I hadn't yet actually mounted him since starting his mounting block rehab. I had planned to do a little more before actually getting on and riding him, but...

Anyhow, I got him ready, hand-walked him around a bit, walked him up to the block, lined him up, gave him a treat. Stood up on the block, gave him a treat on the opposite side. Got on him -- still all on a loose rein -- and he stood like an absolute rock. Did NOT care. I actually had to get his attention to give him another cookie for being such a good sport.

If anything, it was hard to get him to LEAVE the block! Hahahaha.

We went on to have a really great ride, and after cooling him out, I got on and off him a few times and gave him more cookies, to end on that note. Easy easy easy easy!!!! And his owner was SUPER pleased!!
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post #9 of 16 Old 04-11-2020, 03:12 PM
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And we all hope the owner learns this lesson as fast as her horse did:):)

A Good Horseman Doesn't Have To Tell Anyone; The Horse Already Knows.

I CAN'T ride 'em n slide 'em. I HAVE to lead 'em n feed 'em Thnx cowchick77.
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post #10 of 16 Old 04-11-2020, 07:45 PM
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Good job! I've read that mounting and dismounting are proportionately the most likely times for a rider to get hurt. I'm glad that the owner is appreciative of you teaching her horse basic mounting manners. I don't ever want to have to 'get on quickly' because the horse won't stand still. It's just not acceptable for my safety. Some horses hold on to their idea (wiggle, move away, avoid) longer than others before they accept your idea and cooperate. I had to teach the horse that I'm riding these days, and it took her several sessions before she both understood AND was willing to cooperate. Now she stands still and *usually* doesn't move off untill I ask....I need to spend more time on that as that's another basic manners thing imo. Again, congrats on your success! Doesn't it feel great when they get it and decide to cooperate? !

Fay
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Respect......rapport......impulsion......flexion.. .
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