Moving when mounting - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 32 Old 08-09-2017, 07:37 PM Thread Starter
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Moving when mounting

Hey guys,
I'd like to start by saying that my mare (15yo Clydesdale) has just seen a chiropractor and the vet, is sound and has no health issues, as well two years ago I had a saddle fitter come out and custom fit a saddle for my mare, so health and a bad fitting saddle aside. I'm having a hard time getting Shiloh to stand when mounting. She will let you put the mounting block up to her, but as soon as you get on it, she moves away, even if someone is holding her.
Before I bought her custom saddle, she would do the same thing, however much worse. I completely understand because she had a saddle that was leaning forward and was hurting her. After we had the new saddle built for her to address her issues, she would mount like a dream. Unfortunately, due to some health issues, she hasn't been ridden much in the past year and now when you try and mount her she's moving away again. It's frustrating because if I want to ride her I'd have to bring someone with me to hold her so I could get on her, or I have to hold her so my daughter can mount her. I've just moved her to a new barn (she was doing this at the old one too recently) and I want to be able to go out by myself sometimes and go for a casual ride, but I won't be able to mount her by myself.
Keeping in mind, I have very little experience with horses (other than mine) and she's a typical sweet, docile, calm draft. Can someone give me some tips on how to correct his?
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post #2 of 32 Old 08-09-2017, 07:47 PM
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This is a common problem. Frustrating, isn't it?

Which way is she moving? Forward, backward or maybe pivoting on her front?
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post #3 of 32 Old 08-09-2017, 07:52 PM Thread Starter
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She more moves her butt away and then moves to the side. Sometimes she does go forward.
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post #4 of 32 Old 08-09-2017, 08:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Yissy View Post
She more moves her butt away and then moves to the side. Sometimes she does go forward.
First thing is to make sure her bit is ok. Want you to do the following on a slightly loose rein. Make sure you are not pulling on her mouth at all.

Have you tried moving the mounting block next to a wall so she has to go between the mounting block and the wall?

This is a temporary solution and a first step to training.

Find a place where it is difficult for her to move away. (If she is similar to most drafts, she will not make a huge effort to get away, just taking a step or two to the side is enough!)

Do not reprimand her or try to hold her still. Tell her whoa and if she moves just pick up the mounting block once she stops and put it next to her again. Important to remain 100% calm and act like you have all day.

Then get on. Sit for a minute, maybe even give her a little treat from the saddle.

Get back off. Repeat. Repeat, repeat. End of lesson one. Do not end the mounting lesson until you can get on without her moving. Reward her heavily for standing still.

Later same day, or next time, repeat mounting lesson. Move block to different location. Repeat mounting lesson.

Do an easy ride. Return to mounting block, repeat lesson several times. Put horse up.

Continue to mount several times each time before and after you ride, with treats given. She will quickly look forward to mounting as a really fun thing to do.

This is not a method for a professional. This is a method a beginner can easily do on their own or with a tiny bit of help in the beginning that can make mounting a pleasure instead of a struggle.
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post #5 of 32 Old 08-09-2017, 08:27 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you AnitaAnne for your suggestions. I will try that.

To answer your questions:

First thing is to make sure her bit is ok. Want you to do the following on a slightly loose rein. Make sure you are not pulling on her mouth at all.
We actually use a bitless bridle on her.

Have you tried moving the mounting block next to a wall so she has to go between the mounting block and the wall?
We have moved the mounting block against the wall, she just moves forward.

Find a place where it is difficult for her to move away. (If she is similar to most drafts, she will not make a huge effort to get away, just taking a step or two to the side is enough!)
This is exactly true!!! She only takes a step or two, enough to move away. She doesn't run away or do anything to drastic.

Do not reprimand her or try to hold her still. Tell her whoa and if she moves just pick up the mounting block once she stops and put it next to her again. Important to remain 100% calm and act like you have all day.
Ok, I do reprimand her and try to hold her still. I will stop this immediately. I normally do just move the block and try again. I will keep calm from now on, not that I really freak out, but I'll be more mindful.


Then get on. Sit for a minute, maybe even give her a little treat from the saddle.
I was laying in bed, thinking of if it would be alright to give her a cookie once I'm in the saddle as a treat. She looooooooooves her treats!!!Apparently you can. =)

Get back off. Repeat. Repeat, repeat. End of lesson one. Do not end the mounting lesson until you can get on without her moving. Reward her heavily for standing still.
This I don't do, but will now. I never thought to give her a "mounting lesson".

Continue to mount several times each time before and after you ride, with treats given. She will quickly look forward to mounting as a really fun thing to do.
Oh I'm looking forward to this!!!

This is not a method for a professional. This is a method a beginner can easily do on their own or with a tiny bit of help in the beginning that can make mounting a pleasure instead of a struggle.
I am very much a beginner! Thanks for the tips, I will do exactly this! Thank you so much!!!
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post #6 of 32 Old 08-09-2017, 08:29 PM
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Standing for mounting is an anticipation problem. The horse knows that just as soon as you swing up (if not before!), it's time to go. Nobody has ever told them different, so it stays a simmering, or boiling, problem. You have to break up that anticipation pattern. To do this, you must give up the idea that you are going to get on the horse and ride away. Just give it up entirely. Your goal is not to go riding, your goal is to center and calm yourself and your horse, in that order.

Now you are ready to be present and teach your horse something new, which is that just because you swing up doesn't mean you are going anywhere. Or anywhere yet.

She already has an ingrained habit, so you will have to break it into pieces she can be successful at. Those will probably be very small pieces at first. Example: be led up to the mounting block, pause calmly, be led away. Next step, increase the length of the pause. Count to five. When five is easy, count to ten. Keep increasing. You haven't even stood on the mounting block yet. See what I'm doing? You need to reset her expectation of what is going to happen next.

This is one of (few) times horse treats can be very useful. Stand still for a count of ten, get a treat. Do not coax, lure, or distract -- make her earn it by rewarding a specific behavior once it is completed.

If she ever shifts away -- even one hoof -- just go back to the previous level and repeat that a few times. Do not 'correct' bad behavior, just reward good behavior. You want an eager, but calm, learner. Limit training sessions to five to ten minutes. Then take her somewhere else, let her graze on a lead rope for awhile, and come back.

Eventually you will be standing on the mounting block in mounting position, with your horse quietly waiting for her treat or praise. The next step is to just gather up the reins. Hold that, then treat and lead her away. The next step is to put weight in the stirrup. If she quietly stands there, give her a treat and lead her away. Do not rush this! It was rushing that got her into this habit.

Once you can mount without her moving, sit there awhlle and get off. Keep interspersing mounting and getting off with mounting and riding away. DO NOT ride away immediately. In fact, from now on, never, ever ride away immediately. Sit there for awhile, wiggle in the saddle, adjust your feet in the stirrups, then let your reins drop, stare at the sky and wonder whether it's going to be hot later, check your girth, feed her a treat, and THEN ride away. On a loose rein. Make that a habit and you will be the envy of all your friends with your beautifully behaved horse.

(didn't read AnitaAnne's post before posting mine -- pretty much the same advice only mine is finer-grained. Mine will work on any horse, but if yours is naturally quiet you can skip some steps if she's progressing well)
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post #7 of 32 Old 08-09-2017, 08:40 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you Avna!

I think I will take some of what AnitaAnne and you have said and apply it. I like your tips with the treats, she is very treat motivated, so I may as use that to my advantage. I think I need to go to the barn with the expectation of just mounting her and not riding. It makes sense, I also make sure that when I go to the barn to see her I don't always ride. Sometimes we take her for a walk on the lead line or just go to to kiss her face and give her a few pats. I didn't want her to expect that every time we go to see her we're going to put her saddle on, so what you are saying about her expectations of when the saddle is on makes sense.

When we do mount her, we don't generally let her walk off. We sit for a few beats and then move, but I'll be more consistent with that. There are times that she does walk off though...what would you suggest then?
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post #8 of 32 Old 08-09-2017, 09:02 PM
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What Avna said I agree with, you can break it down into smaller steps if you need to, but I think she will quickly learn that it is just a mounting lesson.

Do you ever use the mounting block for anything else? Like cutting her bridle path or anything? If she stands still then, she will quickly learn to stand still for mounting if there is a reward in it for her You might want to reduce her treats a bit except for the mounting lessons though.

She will no longer want to move off once she learns she will get a treat every time she is mounted. Which will happen before and after each ride.

It is even a good time for you to practice mounting from both sides.

Horses learn especially well whatever is done to them right before they are rewarded. Getting off a horse is a reward in of itself.

So you mount, treat, get off. Mount treat, get off. Repeat at least three times. Move to a different area, do it again. It takes a while for horse to learn new patterns of behavior, but you can speed it up with treats.

She will quickly learn that all she has to do is stand still at the mounting block while you get on and off. No pressure.

She is going to love the fact that she can just stand and get treats. But this will take lots of repetition. It is not a quick fix.

Eventually, you will not have to treat every time. Maybe every other time. Or just the third mount she gets one. She will soon associate the mounting block with pleasure.
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post #9 of 32 Old 08-09-2017, 09:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Yissy View Post
Thank you Avna!

When we do mount her, we don't generally let her walk off. We sit for a few beats and then move, but I'll be more consistent with that. There are times that she does walk off though...what would you suggest then?
I suggest you ride back to the mounting block and get off. Then get on and sit, treat. Then get off. Then get on and sit, treat. Then get off. Then get on and sit, treat. Then ride away. You are building her expectation that walking away before being asked to is not part of her repertoire any more.

If she walks off that means she hasn't learned the lesson completely, so you just need to go back and reinforce it.
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post #10 of 32 Old 08-09-2017, 11:53 PM
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I've only suggestions for half the problem, as I really don't care if they walk off from the block as long as I am already balanced over them.

Teach her to move to the mounting block, rather than move the block to her. Stand up on the block, use the reins like you were riding. Outside rein to push hee over, inside rein to guide, voice to get her to move. When she moves up beside you, give a woah and a half half. At first she will probably spend a lot of time spinning around with her shoulder next to you. Thats why you need to use the reins to guide. Go slow, one step at a time.

This way, when she moves you can correct her immediately, rather than chase her all around the arena with the mounting block.

Very useful. Just today I was riding my little man outside and he was being a spicy fool. As I was going to get on him, he was making a show about the new ponies next to the ring. I'd hardly even touch the stirrup and he started to walk, so how got a half halt, half turn, and slide back up to the block. Imagine if I had to get off the block and either walk him back around or move the block? He'd never stand still. Way too distanced. Doing it this way gives you the added bonus of telling them that they have to listen even if they don't want to stand.

Treats work well too, as long as you don't let them spin to face you. Thats how I taught one of mine to stand when first being backed.
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