Please Help- Severe Mounting Troubles! - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 37 Old 03-17-2020, 12:58 PM Thread Starter
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Exclamation Please Help- Severe Mounting Troubles!

Hello,

I have a 21-year-old quarter horse who has his quirks, but nothing serious that we haven't been able to work through. Although, we've been having some mounting troubles.

He had the standard walk-away-from-the-block-when-mom-gets-on like almost every other horse. I tried to nip that in the bud via different methods suggested to me by different trainers at my barn. However, that evolved into a trot-away-from-the-block before I even get a chance to swing my leg over. He is perfectly capable of standing at the block completely quiet until I put one foot in the stirrup- then he takes off.

Well, yesterday, I went to get on him and the unexpected happened.... he took off at a full speed gallop with me hanging off one side of him. He's not big at 15hh so I was able to just step to the ground and he stopped right next to me, but I'm finding it very hard to correct and the trainers I have access to are at a loss since he has neglected to respond to anything we've tried (and treats at the block just make him angry with me if I don't give him more).

I'm very desperate! He's a great horse with amazing talent. He's been tossed around between a couple of homes until he landed with me. I've worked with him immensely over the past 2 years to make him comfortable and happy. I know he's not physically uncomfortable (that's one of the first places we checked for an issue).

Please leave your suggestions!! If anyone has had experience with an ornery old quarter horse who has been through hell and back, I'd love to hear your suggestions.
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post #2 of 37 Old 03-17-2020, 01:43 PM
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Before you do anything training wise, this horse needs to get seen by a vet and rule everything out. Then you need to find a experienced saddle fitter and let them look to see if your saddle fits.

If all of that is ruled out and itís not a pain issue then, Iím sorry to say, but youíve let your horse get to that state. That gallop didnít come out of the blue, you havenít corrected him hard enough when heís tested the waters in the past so heís just pushed the boundary.

I am, first and foremost, a fan of having a trainer watch you and correct you in person. Itís better than internet advice. However for a basic response for this question I would quickly and aggressively back him halfway around the arena if he so much as started forward motion.

I recommend finding a trainer to help you though if itís not a pain issue. Iíd rather see an experienced eye help you.

But first try to see if heís in pain and if thereís an issue with saddle for. Also if you only mount from one side, please try mounting from the other some time in the future interchangeably.
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post #3 of 37 Old 03-17-2020, 02:23 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Vaquera View Post
Before you do anything training wise, this horse needs to get seen by a vet and rule everything out. Then you need to find a experienced saddle fitter and let them look to see if your saddle fits.

If all of that is ruled out and itís not a pain issue then, Iím sorry to say, but youíve let your horse get to that state. That gallop didnít come out of the blue, you havenít corrected him hard enough when heís tested the waters in the past so heís just pushed the boundary.

I am, first and foremost, a fan of having a trainer watch you and correct you in person. Itís better than internet advice. However for a basic response for this question I would quickly and aggressively back him halfway around the arena if he so much as started forward motion.

I recommend finding a trainer to help you though if itís not a pain issue. Iíd rather see an experienced eye help you.

But first try to see if heís in pain and if thereís an issue with saddle for. Also if you only mount from one side, please try mounting from the other some time in the future interchangeably.
Thank you!! I have had trainers in person with me helping the whole way. I am turning to internet advice PER REQUEST of my main trainer to see if anyone else educated out there has any answers/has had the same experience. She is also turning to her professional training friends.

I also mentioned in my post that I already had a vet come out and rule out any pain issues! He's seen at least once a month (more if I notice any issues) because of his age- but he's in very good shape physcially for his age. My saddle is also fit FOR him, which I didn't mention but I did say that all pain was ruled out previously (:

Now in terms of "letting him come to this point" I talked in my post about how I have corrected him in every way I can think. I have done what you suggested with backing him up (that was one of the first things we ever tried) and it resulted in rearing and pawing out. It's mainly a temperment issue, and he doesn't respond to the negative reinforcement you are suggesting. I am looking for any suggestions of positive reinforcement. He's been through a lot and has grown very thick skin- he hasn't had the best of lives and hasn't had ANY proper training and reacts very negatively (and dramatically, I might add) to any negative reinforcement training. He's just been through too much. He developed this issue BEFORE I had him (not the galloping, but the walking and trotting away from the block). I am not the only one training him- I have experienced trainers with me pretty much at all times.

I agree that I need an experienced eye to help me- I do! But, I am asking to see if there is anyone who has had this experience with their own horse.

Your suggestion of mounting from the other side is really interesting and I'll definitely be trying that out- smart! Thank's for your comment.
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post #4 of 37 Old 03-17-2020, 02:33 PM
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Have you tried:
- someone holding him while you mount
- ground mounting
- mounting from something besides the mounting block

You say he gets grumpy when you give food rewards but doesn't deal well with being reprimanded. You could also try clicker training and just verbal rewards.

One thing i do with both my guys that seems to improve our rides is, once I get them lined up at the mounting block, I stand them there for a few seconds, then I walk up to their face and spend, IDK, maybe 30 seconds telling them, in a very nice and soft voice, that they are a good boy, that I love them, that I am happy with them, that I am proud of them. I also rub them a little at that time. I really think about all the good things they do, and let that come out in my voice as I tell them how good they are. It seems to make them feel good. Maybe your guy might respond to that?
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post #5 of 37 Old 03-17-2020, 02:38 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ACinATX View Post
Have you tried:
- someone holding him while you mount
- ground mounting
- mounting from something besides the mounting block

You say he gets grumpy when you give food rewards but doesn't deal well with being reprimanded. You could also try clicker training and just verbal rewards.

One thing i do with both my guys that seems to improve our rides is, once I get them lined up at the mounting block, I stand them there for a few seconds, then I walk up to their face and spend, IDK, maybe 30 seconds telling them, in a very nice and soft voice, that they are a good boy, that I love them, that I am happy with them, that I am proud of them. I also rub them a little at that time. I really think about all the good things they do, and let that come out in my voice as I tell them how good they are. It seems to make them feel good. Maybe your guy might respond to that?
He act's fine when someone holds him. Although, that can't happen every time obviously.

Ground mounting = the same result. I've tried mounting from a regular chair, the same result. So, I can semi-confidently say that the problem doesn't derive from the block itself.

Thank you SO MUCH for your helpful and positive suggestions! I can see your suggestion working. He gets himself worked up and stressed out way too easily. As I keep saying, he's been through so much and has experienced a lot of negative training.

Thanks for listening to my post and responding so helpfully- it means a lot. I will CERTAINLY be taking your suggestions and applying them when I go out tonight. I plan to spend time just mounting and dismounting (if I even get that far) to see if I can find where the stress comes from and how to remedy that. THANKS AGAIN!!
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post #6 of 37 Old 03-17-2020, 03:07 PM
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In addition to @ATinATX excellent suggestions, practicing mounting is a good plan too.

To practice mounting, one breaks down the components into tiny steps and practice several times each.

First, stand at mounting block. Reward, walk away. Repeat, repeat, repeat.
2nd horse at mounting block, rider fiddles with stirrups, girth, whatever. Reward walk away
3rd horse at mounting block, rider puts weight on saddle or stirrup, reward walk away
4th horse at mounting block, rider sits on horse and gets right back off. Reward, walk away

Each time go through each step, like building blocks.

No "corrections", only praise for right thing. Do not EVER immediately ride off after mounting. Sit on him for a few minutes and can even give treat from saddle. Do not let horse ever walk with food in mouth, so must take time to chew first.


Do some liberty training. I really like Eva. This is video fun to watch

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post #7 of 37 Old 03-17-2020, 03:27 PM
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Yes! I was going to suggest that step-by-step approach as well, and I forgot.
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"Saddle fit -- it's a no brainer!"" - random person
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post #8 of 37 Old 03-17-2020, 03:30 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by AnitaAnne View Post
In addition to @ATinATX excellent suggestions, practicing mounting is a good plan too.

To practice mounting, one breaks down the components into tiny steps and practice several times each.

First, stand at mounting block. Reward, walk away. Repeat, repeat, repeat.
2nd horse at mounting block, rider fiddles with stirrups, girth, whatever. Reward walk away
3rd horse at mounting block, rider puts weight on saddle or stirrup, reward walk away
4th horse at mounting block, rider sits on horse and gets right back off. Reward, walk away

Each time go through each step, like building blocks.

No "corrections", only praise for right thing. Do not EVER immediately ride off after mounting. Sit on him for a few minutes and can even give treat from saddle. Do not let horse ever walk with food in mouth, so must take time to chew first.


Do some liberty training. I really like Eva. This is video fun to watch

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u08QEYkcxN4
AH! You're amazing!! Thank you both SO MUCH! Such great and positive suggestions.
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post #9 of 37 Old 03-17-2020, 03:31 PM
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For years, my jousting crew and I mounted our horses in armor, which sometimes weighed up to 70 pounds. (not me, the men--my armor never weighed that much) Our horses HAD to stand quietly while we mounted. It would be impossible to hop around swinging on a moving horse with all that weight.

We practiced many ways of training our horses to stand quietly while being mounted. What worked best for us (and seems doesn't work so well for you), was giving the horse a treat when it stood quietly to be mounted. For some of the horses, it was a gradual thing--the horse got a treat if it stood for only a few seconds, and we slowly increased the time. If a horse got mad because it thought it should have more treats, oh well, we were mounted and we got on with the business of riding. I think the idea of clicker training is a really good one. The horse will associate the clicker with the treat.

My next door neighbor is 76 years old and in the last 3 years has started having difficulty mounting. There is no shame in having someone hold your horse while you train him. It might take 6 months or a year, but everybody is safe. If you have people around, nobody minds holding a horse to help somebody out.

My neighbor has been riding his whole life, and he doesn't like depending on others to hold his horse. Here are some ideas that other elderly riders have done that have been successful. One man keeps the halter on under the bridle. He slips the leadrope through a ring on his trailer and holds the rope as he mounts with the horse "attached" to the trailer. This needs to be practiced some before attempting to mount because a squirrelly horse is not going to stand quietly, and elderly riders have to have a rock steady horse to mount. So, practice first with the horse on the rope "attached" to the trailer.

One person hangs a bucket with some feed on a post or on the trailer. While the horse happily eats, the rider swings up.

I know another elderly rider who slips the rope through a ring on a snubbing post. It takes a bit of practice to get this to happen smoothly, especially with a horse that already doesn't want to stand quietly to be mounted. I think clicker training would come in handy in this situation.

Another elderly man clips the leadrope to the trailer ring, mounts, and reaches forward to unclip after mounted.

I've never been a fan of backing up a horse that doesn't stand to be mounted. I've found it just causes the horse to back up when you try to mount.

I also am not a fan of making the horse "work", moving the feet etc. when they don't stand to be mounted. It has been my experience that in this case, "moving the feet" makes the horse anxious and angry, and less inclined to stand quietly.

I really like the idea of going in front of the horse, praising him, petting him, getting yourself in a positive, grateful, accepting frame of mind.

Having a horse holder is the best solution in my opinion. The horse holder can have some treats. I have found that horses learn fairly quickly to anticipate a treat when coming to the mounting block. Once again, if the horse is mad when the treats end, well, you're on the horse, ride off. Good luck. I've had a lot of experience with teaching horses to stand quietly to be mounted. With patience . . . treats . . . and time, they come around.
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post #10 of 37 Old 03-17-2020, 03:37 PM
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Originally Posted by rhodesm191 View Post
AH! You're amazing!! Thank you both SO MUCH! Such great and positive suggestions.
Don't even ride for the first few days. Let the horse really understand that all you are going to do is stand and practice mounting. This will help him relax.

Once you are able to ride again, make sure the first bit is at walk. Do some lateral work or a few circles, changes of direction. Just to get his brain engaged.

Always end with walk too. The horse remembers what the last thing was.
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