This may seem like such a small and insignificant exercise, but it far more important than many people realize. Too often I see people who need someone to hold their horse while mounting. There is no reason why a horse cannot stand still on their own. This should be the very first lesson any horse learns under saddle.
Top 3 mounting sins
If you have problems with your horse standing still for mounting, there are few key mistakes that you are probably making.
1. Walking off as soon as your butt hits the saddle
This is a big one. Do not ever allow your horse to walk off as soon as your butt hits that saddle. Wait until your horse is completely relaxed, your feet are securely in the stirrups, and you are fully prepared before walking off. Once you are prepared, wait a few more seconds to be sure your horse is fully paying attention to you. Before you depart, collect up your reins and prepare your horse for the departure. Never just kick him forward without preparation as this will startle him and make him nervous about the departure.
2. Never wait the same amount of time before walking off
Allowing yourself to fall into a pattern leads to anticipation. Sometimes you need to wait longer. Other times you walk off sooner. Never let your horse form a habit and start anticipating. Anticipation allows the horse to take control. As with everything, you need to establish yourself as the leader of the herd. This means that once you put your horse somewhere, he does not leave without your permission. This is also a matter of safety. If your horse starts walking off before you are situated, this could unbalance you and it is only a matter of time before you are injured. Anticipation also creates worry in the horse as it prevents the horse from relaxing. A tense horse is far more likely to spook, again increasing the chances of injury.
3. Establish a clear signal
Establish a clear and consistent signal for the departure from the mounting block. That way, there is no confusion as to exactly when you wish to leave and your horse knows that he may only leave the mounting block at your signal. Horses are herd animals who instinctually search for a leader to follow. If they have consistent and clear leadership, they are relaxed and confident. The more they are relaxed, the more they trust you and the safer they are to work with.
Curbing an established bad habit
If your horse has already established a bad habit, it is something that needs addressed before anything else. Take things slowly. As soon as your horse stars walking off, correct it. Do not continue getting on. Circle him around the mounting block and bring him back into place. Stay calm. Don’t get angry. Just keep putting him back into position. Horses are far less patient than they would like us to think. It is amazing what simple persistence can get you. Take things slow.
Once you do get on successfully, don’t walk off. Sit there and pet on him. If he’s one that has a really bad habit, get back off and do it again. Don’t do it more than 3 times though. Once you’re successful, get off and call it a day. It may not feel like you accomplished much, but you will be amazed at how quickly your horse picks up on the new habit once he realizes that mounting doesn’t have to be stressful.
It is important that you already have done proper lunging with your horse to get him relaxed under saddle before you attempt this.
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