I get a lot of requests for this subject. How do we train a horse to keep still while we mount it? The answer is in the Lateral Mouth and with the use of one rein only.
You cannot make or train a horse to stand by using two reins. It is simply not possible. What are you going to do, pull harder? The horse will reverse, do piaffe, rear, dance sideways, passage, spin, the options are endless.
The answer is in using one rein only and when I say ‘one rein’, I mean just that. I mean with a giant loop in the other rein which means zero contact on the outside rein. Please remember I said that…..but first, here is how You don’t do it…
This is called ‘Fighting with Horses’
Most horses that I mean have poor lateral mouths. That is the mouth that you are using when you pull on one rein only and ask the horse to flex. If you do this with most horses, they will spin around in circles because they think you want them to spin around in circles. If you get a newly delivered ‘Breaker’ from a Trainer who is not big on the lateral mouthing of horses or is not into flexing exercises, the horse will definitely walk around in circles if you pull on one rein. The more pressure that you have to use on one rein to get the horse to ‘kiss your boot’ the less the Class of the mouth. Go read ‘The Power of the One Rein Stop’
or go watch these:
REIN HANDLING DURING MOUNTING
Most people are taught to bunch the reins up on the top of the neck in front of the saddle and get. This system has NO control. Horsemen get on suspect horse like this:
If you are mounting a safe horse, you may just use the inside rein and let the outside rein hang there, doesn’t matter. You will only be using the inside rein.
Take up the rein grip and mount your horse. Regardless of which grip, as the horse goes to move off, shorten the inside rein to make the horse flex around towards you and to walk around a small circle on a dime. You will do this by twisting your wrist in the case of the photo above or simple taking the inside rien as you rise through the air on the way up to the saddle. Now do not get carried away with trying to fix the horse right here and now. Before going on, go and read this: Problem Horses and Making a Horse Stand
You should follow the above system all day and every day, whenever you are wanting to just stand around on your horse. In between working out on the arena, train the horse to halt and to flex without walking.
Now, as you land in the saddle, the horse is walking around in a small circle. Two and a half metres max. Just keep the flexion and all the horse to walk. On and on, who cares, but be watching for the moment when it goes to stop and rest. You must have thrown the rein away to two zero reins which means a big loop in both reins, which means zero touch on either side of the mouth of the horse. Got it?
When the horse goes to move off, repeat, repeat, repeat. When it has got the message, which does not take long if your timing and reading is on the ball, ask for flexion to the off side (right) The horse will walk around in circles, you know what to do. Repeat, repeat.
During the process of re-training the horse to stand during every day riding, you will be training the horse to stand without moving during the mounting process. It will get the message, that when flexed, it is never going to gain any advantage by moving, only being made to walk around a small circle on the road to no-where. Horses are not stupid. They soon work that out.
You are aiming to train your horse to expect to be flexed for 15 seconds to the right and to the left on each and every mounting. Even if you get off to open a gate, repeat the process. Always build on your training and make every occasion and ‘training opportunity’
Unless a horse has a good Lateral Mouth, it can never have a good forward mouth. You are training the mind and the mouth is going to follow. The more your lateral mouth improves, which it will, your brakes will improve……a letter from a client…..
I am in the business of Re-training Racehorses from life after the track. I have 1 four year old at the moment that is causing me a little grief. When i first purchased him I was able to mount and dismount him with no problem at all, the 2nd last ride I had on him he was fine to get on, but after i had finished his ride, I just walked him around on a loose reign to cool him down, found a old shoe in the paddock, stopped prepared him so I could get off as I attempted to dismount, he took off sideways, I picked up the shoe, remounted to walk back home, found another old shoe on the way, stopped again, and he violently took off sideways, got away. After I caught him, took him into the round yard and tried to mount again, and took off while I tried to mount. Caught him again, calmed him down, rubbed him all over. Prepared to mount, managed to swing my leg over but in the mean time he took off, me landing behind the saddle, legs in flanks, went round and round the yard like this until my dad came and held him while I got back into the saddle. Then I couldn’t get off him, didn’t like my weight being shifted from side to side, he was very touchy around his flanks now, I patted him on his shoulders while stopped, walking and trotting but nothing was really working, every time I attempted to get off, he would rush sideways. I eventually just stopped him and then just jumped off pretty much, as he took off again. So now I am a little unsure as to fix this problem, lovely natured horse, just a spooky one. Your help would be much appreciated.
You meet them Liz. Probably copped a bashing or a battery. Quite simply, the evasion, which is the key to the compounding of your problem, must be nipped in the bud. These horses need something else to take their mind of their mental problem, which it is, and I use one of 3 things. Tie the horse up and mount/dismount from both sides as many times as it takes. You have stopped the evasion. Go to the round pen and put a front leg strap
on the horse and with passive persistence, keep following the horse up endlessly whilst wanting to mount it, let fatigue start to kick in and the horse start to think rather than panic. Don’t wait for the horse to stop moving, get on it, moving or not. It will get sick of it. Mount/dismount from whatever side you like as many times as you like. Set of stockman’s hobbles and repeat procedure.
Do not back off. Once you have the horse accepting the procedures, mount up each day with hobbles on and dismount immediately. Undo hobble straps but leave them hanging on the legs. Mount up. Relax, pat horse, survey the scene then ride off. Now, I would love to have the time on this site to get all Zoological with you but in short, the three things I mentioned, rather than action as a restraint pure and simple, actually become the mental crutch for the horse, a dummy. Graduate to front boots to replace the hobbles but use your brain here. Where would you install the boots?????? Can’t tell you everything 🙂 The horse will use the boots as the same comfort zone, thus dismissing his memories of the ‘flight from rider’ . If you want to get real sophisticated, graduate to two band aids. and later two kiddy gold stars and finally, one touch with a finger on each fetlock. Success, proof and time will fix the horse. MAKE ONE MISTAKE and you have lost it all!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Don’t let your guard down. I presume you are mounting like this and practicing all the one rein techniques that are explained on the problems index on this site??????
Don’t mess around with leg restraints unless you have learnt a bit about them and know which one’s are safe for your horse. Go have a look at these.
You must have a look at your own attitude to become a good Trainer of horses. Patience is the key, no emotion, no, “Me want it now” attitude, spoilt teenager needs or anything else. Just relaaaaaaaaax and enjoy the wonderful experience that all you have to do is to sit there and wait. Let the horse work it out, let the horse torment itself rather than you. Take your time, follow the rules and remember, reward, reward, reward, with voice, stroking, reward and relief, ceasing on a win, a special treat later and above all, a nice attitude being maintained by you during the process. That might surprise some horses.
I hear you ‘showies’ wondering how you can possible do this during competition, you can’t and you won’t have to. Training begins and ends at the front gate of your home. Foundations will follow you out of the gate/
Best of luck.