"A Mounting Issue Or A Standing Issue...?"

From: TNHorselady

Can you tell me how to get my horse to stand still for mounting? And how about getting her to move over to a log or something.

Hi Kathie,

I know it can be really frustrating when we work at something and don't see the progress we would like to.

Are you anywhere near Rogersville? There is a gal I would love to hook you up with...

I generally don't write 'step by step how to's'....I'm not there to see you or your horse and its so important to be able to read the horse (i.e. really listen to them and being sure that they are truly saying what 'we' think they are !!)

What I always look at first is the physical....even if you are using something to help you mount...are you still pulling too much on her back? ...is she hurting anywhere, so that she doesn't want to go out?

When you are riding...whether trail or arena...do you make it fun for her? Stop and let her explore, give a treat from the saddle, let her graze a bit (teach her an 'ok to eat' cue and a 'its time to go' cue...just dropping the reins and letting her go at it and then pulling her head up when you are ready to go isn't fair!! Kinda like presenting me with a plate that has 3 cookies on it and I think all three are for me, so I reach for the plate and you snatch it away and say you can only have one!! It's perfectly ok for you to decide how many I can have...the issue is with how you presented them to me and how you went about showing me I was mistaken to think I could have all 3!!

You say you've worked on standing still....what have you done? How do you approach it and what does she do? When I say what does she do, I know she moves off, but what does she do BEFORE she moves off....she's giving you lots of little signs that are so easily missed.

Are you breaking it down into small chunks to teach a bit at a time...i.e...will she stand still if you are only standing next to her with your right hand on the horn and left hand on the mane? We aren't talking about a mounting problem...its a standing problem....so we'll go thru the motions of mounting (but not really mount).

You need to go back as far as you have to to find a place where she is comfortable with just standing. I can't tell you what that place is without seeing her. one thing...get it set in your mind that you don't care about getting on her....in fact ....get it in your mind that you don't care if you never get on her!!!

Once you find where she is ok to just stand...even if its for a millisecond, praise her BEFORE she moves and then YOU ask her to walk off...make it your idea. Then build on how long she will stand for you.

Sooo, lets assume she will stand still all day with you just standing next to her. Put your left hand on the mane...will she allow that? If not, what happens before what happens happens???!!! Before she moves...what did you notice...did her head go up, did she get tense, tail switch...?

What you are looking for is the time to remove your hand just BEFORE she needs to move her feet. This is building her trust that you won't ask her to do something that for some reason she isn't able to do right now.

So, if these principles are making any sense to you (and if not, its not your 'fault' its mine because I'm not explaining them clearly!)...take them and build on them...when the hand on the mane is ok, see if you can put left hand on horn, when that's ok, what happens when you start to raise foot to stirrup...not put it in, just start to raise it? Remember, I said its a standing problem, not a mounting one...so even though you won't be mounting from the ground, if she won't stand still while 'going thru the motions' from the ground, she sure isn't ready to be asked to do it with you standing on something.

Let me know how you do with these steps and we can go from there. There are a lot of different ways to approach this...Marty Martin's book Problem Solving is good...if you have access to any NH type tape, book or trainer, that would be easiest for you and her.

Just be careful that someone doesn't come along and try to 'show her who's boss'...horses don't try to 'get our goat' or embarrass us deliberately, or any of that...she is just doing what she thinks she needs to do.

Being able to move their feet is what keeps them alive (in their minds) and anytime they find themselves in an uncomfortable position mentally or physically, their instinct is to move the feet. And it is the human's responsibility to show her that she will be ok if she stands still.

I'm jabbering on about all this in the hopes that it might trigger something as you watch her and try to figure out WHY she doesn't want to stand...remember...find the cause and the solution will present itself. Maybe its as simple as she doesn't understand that standing still is what you want her to do...you may think you have shown her...but maybe you tried to show her while you were speaking human instead of horse...

Sometimes this 'think like a horse' stuff is kinda hard to grab a hold of...esp. from a computer monitor!!! I don't know you or your mare, so I was just throwing out some things that others have shared with me along the way.

Take care,
Ima Mary

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