Sunday, September 5, 2010

Dismounting when Mounting

It took me 10 minutes to mount Gem today. Yep, 10 minutes. As soon as I step on the mounting block, he moves a couple of steps, forcing me to get off the block and rearrange things.

He started doing this when I came back from my surgery. It wasn't too much of an issue when I first noticed it. I put it down to the flies bothering him. But then I started to noticed that taking a few steps was becoming the norm. I know, I know - I should have nipped it in the bud when I first noticed it. I started to move him into a corner when I got ready to mount, hoping that having walls on either side of him would help. It didn't. He just backed up.

Today, after 4 or 5 tries at getting on, I stopped trying and hand walked him around the arena - walk on, whoa, back up, wait.....good boy. A couple of times while we were standing, I grabbed the horn and pulled/leaned on the saddle, simulating that I was getting on him. He was fine. Didn't move at all.

I took him back to the mounting block and let him stand there for a minute. I was able to get on him, but as I was swinging my leg over him he shifted his weight a bit, enough to throw my balance off very so slightly.

So, I am really hating this. To me, he is being disrespectful. I asked LA about how to correct it. She had no corrective measures to offer. She has never had this problem and he's fine with her, but she doesn't use a mounting block. I don't want to have the kind of horse that needs to be held while someone is mounting them. I don't want to have a horse like my lesson horse, GM.

One possible solution I was thinking of was having Jean stand a couple of feet away from him on the other side of his back end with a crop. While he's quiet, I will continue telling him he's a good boy. But, when he starts to do his side step, he will basically swing his butt into the tip of the crop, while I say NO. I am hoping that poking himself with the crop will be enough of a deterrent. If anyone out there has any advice on how to correct this situation, I am all ears!!

What was I thinking...?


  1. Smokey does this and I had a gelding do this. I've taken two different approaches (kind of depends on your horse's nature)

    Smokey is not good if you get too firm. He starts to get confused. We break it down. Since he responds well to praise we do each step and praise like crazy. Walk to the mounting block and stop. Praise, praise. Pressure on saddle. praise praise. etc for 20 minutes. Seriously. But it works.

    Takes maintenance though.

    The other way is soon as your horse moves, you get down and send them in three or four tight circles with lots of energy. Focus on that hip. The attitude is "you want to move? Okay, let's really move." Get him hopping. You do it every time they move, even a tiny step. 20 minutes later they are like "ok already! Yesh!"

    I'd try the first way first.

  2. I read a good post on this once from Linda at the 7msn. Put the mounting block in the middle of the arena (if possible). Have a lunge line, every time he moves an inch when you go to mount, immediately lunge him in circles.It doesn't have to be intense, just has to show him if he moves he works. Try to mount again, one little move or shift he gets to work again. Until he stands perfectly still for mounting he gets to work on the lunge. It shouldn't take long but you can't give up or let one move or shift pass. Good luck.

  3. Here's how I do it. The objective is for the horse to stand because they understand that's what you want and they choose to stand, not because they are forced or punished for not standing.

    So, you lead the horse to the vicinity of the mounting block, you get up on the block and cluck at the horse and direct it to step up to you. When the horse gets in the correct position - stop - and get down from the block, praise the horse, and walk the horse around for a moment. Next, repeat the prior exercise, but add putting the foot in the stirrup without weight. If the horse moves, have the horse circle around you as you stand on the block and do it again. When the horse stands for you to put the foot in the stirrup, get down and walk around for a moment - this is the release. Next step, do the prior bits, then put a little weight in the stirrup - same thing, circle the horse around you and repeat if you don't get it, reward by walk-around if you do. Next steps, in order, are: put more weight in the stirrup; put your knee up on the saddle, sit in the saddle, adjust your stirrups. Same deal, every time the horse doesn't get it, get off and circle the horse back around the block and repeat; if the horse does the increment, walk around a bit to reward. It may take you an hour, but when you're done, the horse will stand for mounting every time, if you're consistent and reward the tries. No making the horse work as punishment or making the horse stand - just making it really clear what you want and consistently rewarding the tries. All my horses stand for mounting on a loose rein. Good luck!

    (I should do a post about this sometime!)

  4. I had this issue with my horse when I first got him. I solved it by staying on the block when he moved, and keeping him moving around the block with light touches of my dressage whip right behind the girth. I would hold the reins and circle with him, but remaining on the mounting block.

    After a few circles, he found it easier to stand still for mounting and it hasn't been a problem since.

  5. I have nothing to bring to the table, obviously *L* being a learner rider & with no horse of me own but I do want to wish you tons of luck in sorting this out, hope you'll post which technique works for you & Gem. BTW, what a fab place to get advice! x

  6. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I like all of these suggestions and I appreciate you all taking the time on this long weekend to comment. Looks like I will be putting on my "patience" cap for this exercise. :-) Will keep you posted!

  7. Can't offer any help due to my lack of experience but can imagine it is frustrating. I don't know if it is because I have put on some weight but I find it more and more difficult getting on without help and someone always has to hold the stirrup and saddle on the other side. When I first started it seemed much easier to just bounce on one leg with the other in the stirrup and swing over. There isnt really much opportunity to use a mounting block when we are trekking.

  8. Depending on the horse, this method may either work or induce further disruptive behavior, but I have found that having someone stand and feed the horse a treat or two while I mount, then after a week or so, handing the horse a treat myself (without a ground person standing there) just before I mount, and finally handing down a treat once I'm mounted has fixed the problem for me. I rode a stallion with a dangerous rearing problem at the mounting block, and wouldn't you know this big strong tough guy was a sucker for peppermints. Worked like a charm, and the rearing habit vanished, though I don't know if it would work for everyone. I think you're right though, the trick is to be patient. Good luck!

  9. You might want to take a closer look at how you mount too, are you gently easing into the saddle or are you knocking him in the sides with your foot and then dumping into the saddle like a ton of bricks?

    I had this issue for a while with Coriander. I figured out I wasn't settling into the saddle very softly- I made a conscious effort to fix that and, presto, no more walking away from the block.

  10. There are lots of great suggestions here!
    Since I'm all for doing the least amount of work, I've used the fence as my friend with my previous mare Eb. She could be a stinker like that, and yes, she would move *just* enough that I would either be doing the splints to get on her or end up on my butt! Not cool.

    So, I dragged that mare and the mounting block over to the fence. She tended to step sideways, not forward, so it was easy enough to just sandwich her between the fence and the mounting block. If she was the type that stepped forward though, I would've put Baby in a Corner, you bet:)

    Honestly, I did take my time, made sure she wasn't claustrophobic, etc etc. I was lucky that it wasn't an every time thing. I like the suggestion of getting down from the block and immediately making him trot three or four circles around you though. I, personally, don't know if I would be coordinated enough to make him circle around the mounting block with me on it, but you might have better luck:)

  11. I used the treat method that Marissa explained and that worked. This was how I fell and broke my shoulder in March 2009 so it was a huge deal to take care of this problem. I always make sure that moving away is MY idea, no matter how long it takes. Good luck!

  12. I agree with Marissa and Donna.

    Use a treat, and your horse will stand still as a rock whether it is a mounting block or a stone.
    I have done it with my youngsters and it works just super.
    As I am riding bareback often and also frequently jump off and walk by my horse, I need to be able to get on also at awkward places in the forest.
    Knowing that my horse is not only standing still, but also cooperates by stepping up to whatever I am using, and actually swings the quarters IN when I ask her is helping a lot.

    It is very simple, and your horse is going to look forward to that mounting block!

  13. Thanks again, for your ongoing support and for the great suggestions. I have been working on it the last two rides. I was not intimidated by the other riders (it took be about 20 minutes to finally get on him). Not there yet, but I think I can see the wheels turning in is brain...."what the heck is going on???..... I will post an update on our progress in bit!

  14. I like what Kate and HorseofCourse said, but I'd take it a step further. Try teaching him at liberty to come up to you when you climb up on a mounting block. On of the best things I ever taught my horse was to glide into position when he sees me stand on something high and position himself for me to get on---then WAIT until I say "Walk."

    First, though: Is the block tall enough so you can get on without twisting his back? He may be stepping away from anticipated pain, not you.

    I taught my horse to come TO me for mounting in one day. Make it a game. If you have a clicker, try clicking followed by a carrot scrap when he gets near you for starters.

    Once he gets the proximity thing, withhold the treat until he is alongside...then with his back next to you. Do it all in small steps, then next time, progress to swinging a leg over. Only treat for position at first, then stillness second.
    Eventually, it's "Will you come here, let me get on, then stand quietly for 30 seconds? Thank you, here's your treat."

    It becomes a fun game for them, and now when I stand on ANYTHING, Red comes right over and lines up for me. I love it!