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Discipline: LD/Endurance, CMO, Trail Rider, Cartoonist, Writer, Co-Director/ Green Bean Endurance

July 3, 2011

Lesson 1 : Stand still to be mounted

It's hot, it's humid, and though it has actually quit raining, I'm a slug in this kind of weather.  It does not inspire me to get out and cover some miles.  I slept long last night (yay!) and the morning reports said another hot humid day.  So being the hot weather weanie that I am (I'll take snow flurries over hot humidity ANY DAY) I thought today would be a good day to work on one of the little things, that are actually really important BIG things if you don't address them. 

  When I decide to climb onto a horse I shorten the reins just a little to get a slight nose bend toward me, grasp the mane hair firmly, and the cantle lightly, and haul my big wide hiney up into the saddle and try to land at least with the grace of a small sack of produce.  What I require is a horse that will stand quietly while my butt is seated, and my feet find the stirrups, and stays there until asked otherwise.

Journey is a crap shoot when it comes to mounting safely.  It seems to depend on where her brain is at the time.  Is it with you?  Or is it "out there."  Out there, is not a good thing.  Sometimes she sort of stands still, and other times when your weighted left foot gets into the stirrup she steps her hindquarters away and out from under you which leaves you in an awkward (dangerous) position with foot in stirrup, and other foot hopping along to keep up.  So armed with a fanny pack stuffed with carrot slices we tacked up and I took her into the round pen for some work.  It went kind of like this:

Left foot into the stirrup, Journey steps on around, rider removes foot, takes crop and tap tap taps her on around until her feet stop.  Whoa.  We repeat.  Third time all four feet remained planted, I get settled and bring her head in for a carrot treat.  She chews, she stands still.  If she steps forward before I ask her, no carrot, and we back up back up back up.  I ask her to stop again.  When she complies and holds still, another treat.    We repeated this exercise until she was standing still for the entire mounting process for about ten repetitions.  Once that was working pretty good and since we were in the round pen anyway we worked a little more on whoa.  Her whoa is atrocious.  And I ride bitless.  The humidity had made the grass very wet so I only felt good working this at the walk, but on a dry afternoon we will work some more at the trot.  She was getting the idea if I could keep her mind focused on me.  Once out of the round pen I took her outside where I'd mount up to ride if I were going to actually do it.  Immediately I could tell her mind was "out there" instead of "right here."  She thought to step away and I corrected her.  I mounted successfully three times, I gave her a handful of carrots, and called it a day. 

Journey is so smart.  Everything is figuring out communication.  She is willing, if you know how to get the point across.  She really does try, if her human can figure to talk Journey's language.  One thing I am so grateful for is that her previous owner Teri built up so much trust in this horse that she is very person oriented.  Even if there are holes in training that need work, at least the horse is mentally sound enough that if you are patient, you can get the job done. 

Now the turkey problem?  THAT is a problem, and my little head is swimming on how to despook for something I may not see until it is too late! (like yesterday) (when I ate my first batch of serious dirt) (and did not see it coming until I was already hammered).  It kind of took me unaware since she has been so "bombproof" otherwise.  I let my guard down.  Maybe a black umbrella?  POOF!  Like a sudden flurry of wings? Helium balloons painted to look like a turkey?



  1. I ride OTTBs who have been taught that acquiring a rider means walking forward while being led and having someone throw a rider up on their backs. It is done quietly and everyday and they see no sense in standing still while I clamber on. I have spent as long as 45 minutes; get on, walk a few steps get off, place horse at mounting block, horse moves, replace horse, get on, walk, get off. Repeat a thousand times. I can't get on these horses from the ground and I expect them to stand STILL while I climb on mounting blocks, truck bumpers, jumps, logs, fence, rocks etc. The good thing is that once they learn it, they stand like a rock. But it is boring, tedious work. Hope it goes well for you.

  2. Teaching your horse a one rein parking brake is probably one of the fastest ways to install a 'stand' command for mounting. It's an important lesson for every horse to learn. Good luck!