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Standing Still While Mounting
WRITTEN BY: Cheryl Sutor   [April 28, 2000]


Before continuing with this article, please read and understand the following three articles first. These three articles will teach you how to make mounting as comfortable as you can for your horse. Many horses resist mounting time because of the fact that it is uncomfortable or painful. If your horse is acting up at mounting time, you must first rule out any source of pain or discomfort before attempting to fix the problem with training...a horse who is in pain is not going to respond well to any type of training to get him to stand still for mounting. That said, please read these articles first (in order, please):
After reading and fully understanding those articles, feel free to continue on reading this one. Just be sure that you rule out any pain or discomfort (you should be 100% sure that your mounting techniques or other factors, such as saddle fit, are not influencing your horse's bad behavior) before you attempt to fix the "problem" with training.



Horses that do not stand still for mounting are potentially dangerous. At any moment, the horse may walk off or decide to move in a direction that may leave you on the ground. It is very important that all our horses know how to stand still while being mounted. To teach your horse to stand still while mounting, you must dedicate yourself to the training process and follow the five rules I have outlined below.

Rule #1. You cannot be in a hurry to get on. If you are, your horse will never learn to stand still consistently and safely. When you're in a hurry to get on and ride, he will mimick your behavior. Be patient and consistent!

Rule #2. Do not ride your horse until he learns to stand still. A horse who cannot stand still while being mounted, should not be ridden. The most common reason our horses don't want to stand still is because they do not want you to get on them. We must wait until the horse tells us (by standing still) that he is okay with us mounting him. Until then -- stay off.

Rule #3. Before mounting, always grab the saddle horn or pommel and pull on it from side-to-side. Your pull should be firm enough that the horse has to re-adjust his feet. The reason we do this is so the horse can adjust himself to be better balanced on all 4 feet before we mount. If a horse is not properly balanced when you mount, his natural reaction is to counter move your movement (the second most common reason horses won't stand still).

Rule #4. Always use a slack rein while mounting. By 'slack', I don't mean give him the entire reins! What I mean by 'slack' is, you should not have contact with his mouth while holding the reins for mounting. If you have contact with his mouth, he will be more likely to move, because you are giving him the cue to turn his head (or you may be making it uncomfortable for him to stand with his neck bent!). So, your reins should be short enough that you could easily gain control should he move off, but not so short that there is contact with his mouth.

Rule #5. Do not sit down hard on your horse's back, or kick him in the rump while swinging your leg over!!! Be very gentle when mounting...we want him to enjoy this too!



Now, on to the training...

When a horse does not want to stand still, I make it uncomfortable for him to move around. Once he realizes it is uncomfortable to move about, he will begin to enjoy standing still. Standing still will soon become a wonderful reward to him.

Every time your horse stands still, stroke his horse's coat and talk to him softly. Do not pat him, just softly stroke his hair. We want him to learn that standing still has great rewards. Also, don't forget to do ALL the steps on BOTH sides of the horse!!!

Step 1. Stop the horse and prepare to mount by using the rules outlined above.

    - If the horse stands still, move on to step 2.
    - If the horse moves, move on to step 7.

Step 2. Reach for the stirrup and pick it up away from the saddle. Jiggle it around a bit.

    - If the horse stands still, move on to step 3.
    - If the horse moves, move on to step 7.

Step 3. Place your foot in the stirrup.

    - If the horse stands still, move on to step 4.
    - If the horse moves, move on to step 7.

Step 4. Put pressure in the stirrup.

    - If the horse stands still, move on to step 5.
    - If the horse moves, move on to step 7.

Step 5. Stand up in the stirrup, but do not swing your leg over.

    - If the horse stands still, move on to step 6.
    - If the horse moves, move on to step 7.

Step 6. Gently swing your leg over and softly sit into the saddle. Do not sit down hard on your horse's back, or kick him in the rump while swinging your leg over!!! Be very gentle when mounting...we want him to enjoy this too!

    - If the horse stands perfectly still, dismount immediately and stroke his neck, give him TONS of praise. Tell him "Good Boy!" and just stand there and gently pet him for awhile.
    - If the horse moves off after you sit in the saddle, but before you give him the cue to move off, gently bend his head to the side (toward your knee) until he stops. Once he stops, dismount and stroke his neck.

Now...repeat the whole process!!! Be consistent!

Step 7. Make it uncomfortable for him to be moving around by asking him (with the lunge line) to trot to the left, trot to the right, trot to the left...don't lunge him! Just ask him to keep moving his feet left to right and back in 1/2 circles around you. Put some energy into it! Make him really work hard at it...he will soon learn that standing still is a much better deal than running around getting all worked up. Once you have made it uncomfortable for him to move around, gently ask him to stand still again. Now, go back to Step 1.



In the past, I have viewed the video tapes from the following popular trainers. Their methods of teaching a horse to stand still are different than my own, but they all work equally well. If you are more of a "visual" learner, please look into purchasing the video tapes on mounting problems from the trainers below:

Parelli "Partnership Pack 1" - www.parelli.com.
John Lyons Symposium II (Video #4) - www.johnlyons.com.



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This article was published on: April 28, 2000. Last updated on: April 28, 2000.