Tips to keep your horse standing still while you get on.
April 4, 2017
From "AQHA’s Fundamentals of Horsemanship"
Can you barely swing your leg over your horse's side before he starts to walk off?
If you're envious of those horses who stand still as a statue until their riders are ready, these instructions are for you.
To get onto your horse without him moving or becoming disturbed.
To have your horse “await further instructions” once you have mounted.
To ensure the mental, emotional and physical connection between you and your horse is not disrupted when you get on his back.
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What Does My Horse Need to Know?
It is most important that once you are in the saddle, the first thing you should do is nothing. The horse will soon associate being mounted with the minute of rest and comfort that follows. He will almost look forward to you getting on.
If you put the horse to work immediately, two problems will arise:
- He will associate being mounted with the discomfort of work.
- He will anticipate moving off and will not be still while you mount.
Patience is a virtue, for both man and horse. Take care when swinging your leg over not to kick or frighten your horse. Maintain a slight lateral flexion until you are safely in position with a foot in each stirrup. Release the reins and allow the horse either to be still or to move. If he chooses to move, take one rein and lift it to stop his movement.
If this is not effective, take a lateral flexion and hold it until the horse is still. Release again and allow the horse to move if he must. He will soon decide that it is easier and more comfortable to be still and await further instructions.
You must allow your horse to stand still prior to making any adjustments to your position or the saddle.
Once your horse has become accustomed to the idea of not moving immediately, you can stand in your stirrups, adjust your position and test that your horse has really resolved to stand still.
You must learn to read your horse’s body language. If his hind legs are apart, he may be ready to move quickly. It is much better to have the forelegs apart and the hind legs close together.
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Errors to Avoid
Do not throw yourself into the saddle. Ease yourself into position. This will be easier if you use a mounting block to get on. You can make your own with AQHA's How to Build a Mounting Block FREE ebook.
Do not cause your horse to associate being mounted with discomfort.
Do not get on if your horse’s hind legs are spread or if he is tense or engaged. Be sure he is calm and not ready to explode.
Do not sit heavily on your horse’s back. He won’t appreciate your presence.
Do not apply any leg pressure or do anything to provoke movement once you are in the saddle.
How Will This Help Me?
When you get on your horse, he relaxes and associates being mounted with a moment of rest and comfort, instead of anticipating movement.
Your horse will not walk away until you say so. You will leave together.