Teaching a horse to stand for mounting? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 10 Old 03-12-2015, 07:18 AM Thread Starter
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Teaching a horse to stand for mounting?

Hi so I have this horse and I'm getting tired of his habit... It's not standing while mounting. He's absolutely perfect in the saddle and on the ground but he never stands while mounting. When I put my foot in the stirrup he wants to just go, and I have to hop on quickly. With my mare on the other hand, she used to have that habit too and it eventually stopped. With my boy though, it's not. He came with this habit, he was a dude ranch trail horse so they likely got on and went off right away. Right after I get on, I flex his head a few times and then I sit for about a minute, then I go. And even then, I either go forward or backwards or even to the side so it's not just one single movement (forward) when I get on that he associates with. I use a mounting block too so I'm not a rough mounter. Again, he came with this habit so I don't think I did anything wrong. My mare used to have it when I first got her but it went away when I did the flexing thing, it taught her we weren't going to move off right away and the first thing I'd do is flex her when I got on and she shouldn't even think about moving anything but her head. What do I do about my gelding though? I've been trying this and it hasn't worked. Are there any other methods to try? Thanks :)

And it's not the saddle either, I ride both bareback and with a saddle and he does it with both. Except with the saddle he does it when my foot is in the stirrup and with bareback he does it when I put my leg over, even before I'm fully on. I've also tried mounting bareback on my stomach, and mounting from the other side of him (the right side, not the usual left) and nothing has worked. As I've said, it's not a respect issue because he's fine on the ground and in the saddle and I don't think it's anything I did since he came with this habit and my other horse is fine. I do the same thing as I did with my mare to get rid of it: flexing. I NEVER move off right when I get on. I apologize for the run on sentences but it's late and I'm tired.
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post #2 of 10 Old 03-12-2015, 08:02 PM
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Treats don't always work, but it's what I used to train this behaviour out of my horse. He responds very well to treats and it made the whole thing a lot quicker and painless.

Basically I took him to the mounting block, and then when he was standing still gave him a small treat. Then I went to hold the saddle, if he moved I'd correct him, but I'd try to pre-empt his movement, and while his was still he got treat, if he moved he'd be briskly returned to position. It took a few sessions but he has got it now.

I still treat him most of the time but only when I'm in the saddle, feet in the stirrups. And he waits.
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post #3 of 10 Old 03-12-2015, 08:08 PM
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I thought it was going to be impossible to teach my TWH to stand still for mounting. I tried treating, I tried making him work (circles) if he moved..I tried backing him across the parking lot..nothing worked.

What worked for me was teaching him to line up to me to mount. I stood on my mounting block, then using my dressage whip asked him to move forward, and depending on which leg or body part I'm tapping is what he moves. Yeah at first he was going back and forth, and all over the place, but I stayed calm, stayed put, and just kept trying. His resting spot was when he lined up to me, and he'd get some scratches or a treat. I'm not sure WHY this worked best with my horse but now I get on my mounting block and just say "line up" and he puts the stirrup right where it needs to be so I can get on. Just be patient, keep your cool, if you have to just laugh at him when he messes up to keep yourself from getting mad.
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post #4 of 10 Old 03-12-2015, 08:14 PM
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Your horse seems to think of you getting on as the beginning of the moving part, where he should be thinking of it as the end of the standing part. he was probably held while someone mounted at the dude ranch so it didn't matter
If he stands quietly for everything else, I would still treat him as a colt that I was just breaking and work on mounting and dismounting as a separate lesson and not part of a ride. I have tied colts to a rail and sat on them for 5 or 10 minutes then got off and put them away.
The other thing is the reins. The horse wants to move out so the rider tries to compensate with rein pressure and that doesn't work because the rider is somewhere between the ground and the saddle. The horse needs to learn to stand with no contact with the reins
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post #5 of 10 Old 03-13-2015, 01:20 AM
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What also can work is to just take your time at the mounting block and don't even get on. So, you take him to the mounting block and with him lined up just lay your hand over his back and then off again. Kind of just get him used to standing there without actually being ridden. Slowly build up to a foot in the stirrup and then out etc. Or just use treats. Baby carrots worked well with my mare. That was after doing the above. But my horse had anxiety about riding and anything associated with it. It doesn't sound like your horse has that. So maybe treats is all you need.
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post #6 of 10 Old 03-13-2015, 05:05 PM
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Sometimes you have to try different things until something clicks with that individual horse. I have had the best success by just concentrating on mounting and dismounting. I'll put the horse in position and give the command "whoa". I only use that word rather than different ones such as "stand" or "steady", for different standing still situations. Whoa means stop. Right here. Right now. And don't move until I say so.

I'll mount. I'm careful not to put any pressure on the reins. But I'm ready to use them to reinforce the "whoa" if it moves as I mount, If the horse moves, I dismount, circle or back the horse back into position and mount again. Once the horse stands still for the process, or in some cases looks like its trying to understand, I praise it with an enthusiastic voice and lots of wither or neck scratches. Then I put it away for the day.

If it stands still the next time, I praise it and walk around a bit. I want it to remember that I still want it to move out when I say so. Then I will mount and dismount several times. I call that the "up and down drill". I make any corrections needed. If the horse stands, I put it away again. It usually only takes a couple or three sessions for the lesson to sink in.

Hope that helps some.
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post #7 of 10 Old 03-13-2015, 05:18 PM
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I use a combination of flexing a horse and having the horse work.

I begin in a rope halter with a 14 foot lead so I have room to lunge my horse a little. I will flex my horse to the left slightly, which the horse should already know means stand. Then i'll begin. I'll get a handful of mane in my left hand will my lead rope and grab my saddle horn in the right. From there i'll lift my foot. If your horse moves, keep your horse flexed and walk with him, exaggerating lifting your left leg each step until he comes back to a stop. As soon as he does, give his head back and rub on him for a moment. You want to release the pressure when he stands. From there, you want him to consistently stand when you raise your leg. Then build to him standing when you put a foot in the stirrup, when he does, take your foot out and turn loose of his head and rub. Then build to standing halfway in the stirrup. If a horse moves at this point, you can easily twist your hips so your right hip is up against your saddle while you keep him bent, just stay up there until he stands, then dismount and rub. Repeat until he stands.

Some horses need more than the positive rub when they do the correct thing. On these horses i'll send them out really firmly on the lunge and do just a few circles, asking for a rollback every 3/4 of a lap or so. Then i'll ask my horse to stand and just rub on them. This will allow the horse to make that choice to move, and then you make it difficult. You are NOT trying to tire your horse out. You just want to ask for a few circles that are harder work.

Once you're actually mounted, do as you have been doing, stand and chill out for a minute before walking off.

Over the course of a few rides, you can go from mounting your horse with his head flexed to gradually mounting with it straight. You just want to start off flexed, so if he does move, it's on a controlled circle.
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post #8 of 10 Old 03-13-2015, 06:23 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you everybody :) I will try all of your posts! And to Textan49, that's what I was thinking too -- somebody probably held him so he never learned to stand still to mount except when someone holds him. I go to the barn on Sunday and Monday, so I'll post back here my results!
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post #9 of 10 Old 03-18-2015, 09:31 AM
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I put the reins over my saddle horn, that way if the horse tries to move, and he moves his/her head the reins will be caught on the saddle horn and make the horses head come back and the horse will think you are pulling on the reins and will stop. That works for my horses. Good luck!
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post #10 of 10 Old 03-19-2015, 08:46 PM
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He needs to know the word whoa before you even start riding him. I always work my horse a little on the ground and make sure that they know that whoa means stop and to stay stopped until told otherwise. A horse is huge, they need to know that. Try lunging your horse and getting the word whoa into his head until he stops on a dime and doesn't move. Then apply that lesson when your getting on.
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