View Full Version : teaching horse to stay when you fall off

Fiat Lux
Mar. 7, 2008, 08:04 AM
This is a spinoff from the "summoning help in an emergency" thread.

I think it's very important to train your horse to stay with you when you fall off. You can use flying dismount training for this. I've been dumped off my arab a few times.....but she never runs off. She sticks right there, even if I lose the reins.

Would you mind explaining in some more detail how you trained your horse to stay with you when you fall off? Anyone else have tips? Thanks!

Mar. 7, 2008, 09:55 AM
ok A) not every horse has the personality or disposition to manage such a feat, and B) a horse genuinely and truly startled or frightened by something, that proceeds to dump you, is not likely to stick around if it was reasonable to dump you.

Beyond that- one thing you can do is teach a horse to whoa if you become severely unbalanced..example ex-calf roping horses can make good kid's horses...the instant they put a leg behind them or get way off to the side- SLAM on the brakes, LOL...so that's a goal I suppose. from a walk get halfway dismount and require a whoa, followed by a treat. Nothing wrong with them thinking oh, stop, treat...if you begin to flop off.

I'm not lanky enough to willingly try to train with a flying dismount. I'm all of 5'4" and my biggest baby is going to top out at over 17 hands, looks like. I'm not willingly jumping off her to teach her to stick around.

Mar. 7, 2008, 02:52 PM
I agree with Katarine: that a scared horse is going to run off whether you're onboard or not.

But it doesnt hurt to master the art of the 'flying dismount.' Its a fairly easy concept; you start at a walk, drop your stirrups, swing your leg over and pretty much just dismount with the horse still walking. If your horse isn't completely freaked out by that, you ask them to whoa in hand, then re-mount. I would highly suggest an old school pony or small horse that is familiar with it first, so you're basically teaching yourself before you have to worry about how your horse will react.

Then you can progress to trot and canter. At the faster gaits, you'll probably have to jog next to the horse before they'll slow down or, if you're lucky, they'll stop once they've realized your not up there anymore!

I shouldn't have to say this, but I will: Wear a helmet and gloves, and be in a safe enclosed area with a ground person at a safe distance to help if needed. Good Luck!

Mar. 7, 2008, 04:13 PM
Flying dismounts are a pet peeve of mine. I;ve heard of more people seriously injured doing this. Unless the horse is headed toward a hughway, stay on. I've never heard of anrone hurt staying on.

Mar. 7, 2008, 04:24 PM
TwoArabs, I'm with you. I am not willingly parting from the horse at a gallop...make 'em throw my fanny, by golly ;) like you said unless the highway, a cliff, etc, looms, I'm just going to ride really, really fast :)

Mar. 7, 2008, 05:48 PM
Yes, but there are two separate ideas being talked about here - Training your horse to stay with you, the method involves using a flying dismount .... AND whether or njot you should emergency-dsimount in anger.

As long as your horse is little enough that you're not going to break any bones getting off a lot, I htink the training method outlined sounds perfectly sensible. Practice getting off at a walk, then a trot etc, and expect, and reward the horse for staying with you.

As for whether or not you personally would get off in any particular danger situation, well we could debate that too - but probably a whole different thread would be clearer, wouldn't it ? Since it doesn't relate at all to the question of how to teach your horse to stay by, should you inadvertently fall off.

*personally, I hope to not be doing either any time soon, not until I can figure out why my ankle isn't working - I think it was due to last week's unscheduled exit over the back

**and no, he didn't stick around and I had a long hobble home :sadsmile:

Mar. 7, 2008, 08:17 PM
Sorry, I'm too old to practice flying dismounts..:winkgrin: Even getting off after a long trail ride hurts!

I do agree with Katarine - I've fallen off at the halt. :yes: Long story short, I was going down a steep hill, by saddle slipped forward. I stopped my mare, tried getting off and the saddle flipped forward, sending me somersaulting off..:dead: My mare wasn't spooked and stood still.

There are times when she is truly frightened that I honestly don't think she'd stay with me if I got dumped. She's gonna save her little spotted arse first, then worry about me at feeding time..;)

Mar. 7, 2008, 09:16 PM
;):lol::yes: Ditto about the cookies. :yes:

Mar. 7, 2008, 09:25 PM
He will stay or go, it has nothing to do with you sitting on the ground.
The one and only time I came off on XC my horse set a land speed record getting back to the trailer, didn't even slow down at the super spooky creek that was an issue coming the other way.
This was after he dragged me for a while as I was trying to get to my feet and hang on to him at the same time....I suspected it might be a long walk if he got away.
This is a horse that would come when called out of the pasture and leave his feed to watch me.
I have had horses dump me and stand and stare at me, and other times step over me on the way to the horizon without a backward glance.

In order to train a behavior you have to have some control over the situation.

Mar. 8, 2008, 12:01 AM
My Arab had 3 months of lunge line training before he was broke to saddle and was, and still is completely voice trained. When my stirrup broke and his rider fell he started for the highway. I (on foot) yelled HALT, and he stopped cold. There is nothing like voice control. Well, except in a show the P.A. announced TROT and he did, but the announcement was for the other ring.

Mar. 8, 2008, 12:39 AM
Ditto Chall. . . voice commands through lots of ground work. . .

Mar. 8, 2008, 08:59 AM
It's been years since I was a competitor in distance riding, but my daughter is an upper level Eventer, and they also have similar problems if they part company from their horse on the Cross Country course.

The first time this happened to Chris, was years ago (like, about 1990) in Texas on the Intermediate Course (that's next to the highest Eventing level ... big fences, long, fast courses) between fences. Her purebred Arab hit a shallow gopher hole in sandy soil at a gallop and both horse and rider sumersaulted. Horse got up, trotted a few feet, then turned and came back to her. We thought it was because of the horse/rider bond.

Second time, about 8 years later in Kansas, her Arab/Saddlebred went down on an icy bridge (it had been heavily sanded, but something happened) and horse and rider parted company. Now, she didn't have that close a bond with this horse but he, too, got up, trotted a few steps, turned and came back.

It finally dawned on us that Chris had unconsciously taught all her horses to either ground tie or follow her whenever they were tacked up and she was not in the saddle. It happened because, when schooling the show jumping phase at home, she usually didn't have anyone to help her reset fences when a bar was down. She would dismount, do a slight check on the reins (which she often left around the horses neck) and use the command 'stay' just like with a dog. As the horse learned, she gradually stopped using both the rein signal and voice sinals and they'd stay or follow her (those who are not quite as willing to stay put will follow) as soon as she left the saddle. We found that virtually every horse she rode by herself would do this ... she had done the same thing with all of them simply because she didn't want to have to go tie them up while she reset a single fence.

It paid off again about 18 months ago when a young, lower level horse (another Arab) went down at a fence on Cross Country in competition in the pouring rain (hind feet slipped as he prepared to take off). Again, this horse got up and came right back to her, and he was much less experienced than the others. He was not hurt (none of them were) but, of course was required to retire from the competition (bummmer, cause he was winning) ... it still was much more pleasant NOT to have to chase him.

Having them stop with or follow their dismounted rider is also great when she's out on XC schooling OTHER riders. Now she knows she can dismount to help a student, if necessary, and her horse will stay right with her the minute it feels her leave the saddle. Our horses are also well schooled in lunging and voice commands, but what if you're unable to speak?

As for spooking ... Chris has never gone off a spooking horse, knock on wood and keeping fingers crossed. She did go off a big Anglo-Arab in a cross country clinic at an Intermediate fence when the approach to the fence was not quite right and the horse knew it... same thing happened though, horse stopped the minute he felt her leave the saddle (got it on video).

Most of ours are Arabs or Arab crosses so if they do happen to spook, it's the type spook that is jumping sideways, slamming on the brakes, or slamming on the brakes and spinning (that's the one that regularly looses ME), then curiously studying whatever the cause was, but they're generally not inclined to a blind panic runaway. Also agree with the flying dismount causing more injuries than it prevents, seen it happen too often. You're safer staying on .... just duck the trees.

Mar. 11, 2008, 10:25 AM
My Stb was trained to stop if the rider started to come off and he also was taught to stand. I simply would start to come off balance on either side of him and then ask for a stop; when he stopped I praised him. I drove him a lot so standing was something he did well.

It only came in handy once for me when I came off while teaching him to jump; my foot was still in the stirrups and he was standing there waiting for me to get up. I agree that a spook can change everything but I still think it is a good thing to teach every horse.

At one point I allowed a young girl to ride him and I know this training came in handy for her! ;)

My Qh mare is learning stand now and I will eventually teach her to stop when she feels me come off. Even though I will most like just dabble in break away roping I will train her to be a full functioning roper which means stopping fast when I come off.

I never understood why any one would want to jump off a horse when you could just stop him, so I have never practiced emergency dismounts!

Mar. 11, 2008, 10:27 AM
You don't have to do a flying dismount, or the real thing, to teach this lesson.

If you want to teach a horse to stay when you come off, practice sitting on the ground next to them, and offer them a horse cookie. Your sitting on the ground will look weird to them at first, but with a cookie offered up the ears will prick forward and they will think "oh, this means a yummy!"

Go from sitting on the ground to lying on the ground next to your horse, and offer up a cookie. Go from lying next to them to rolling away and lying, then stretch out your arm with a cookie. Guaranteed they will come over to see you... and get their treat.

In no time at all, the horse won't think twice about you lying on the ground, and will figure this is a prelude to cookies. Hopefully the time will never come when you have to put this into practice, but by then your horse won't think it so odd when you plop on the ground, and will hang around for the treats.

Hint: always carry a few cookies with you on any ride. It makes the horse happy, and glad to have you around. :D

Yes, and then bop him on the head when he dumps you and comes close looking for a 'cookie' :lol::D

Mar. 14, 2008, 02:51 AM
Instead of cookies maybe wrapped peppermints, having that added crinkle noise sure seems to attract my mare's attention.

Mar. 14, 2008, 09:34 AM
A couple of years ago, Pat Parelli came to our town for two days of seminars. It was exciting and interesting. One of the games they play with their horses involves a big round upside down tub/platform. They train their horses to step up on this thing, like a circus elephant would. It is very impressive. It is about building trust.

For the conclusion of their two day show, they were all galloping around the arena and showing off tricks with lights flashing and music playing. It was stirring to watch.

Then Linda Parelli fell off her favorite trained horse. One second she was cantering and waving to the grandstand, and the next she was on the floor eating dust.

Her trusty steed, did what he was trained to do. He ran loose to the center of the arena and climbed on that stupid upsidedown tub stand . He held that pose perfectly until Linda picked herself up and walked over to get him.

So.... All you need to do is to train your horse to climb up on upsidedown tubs, then scatter them along any trails you plan to ride. If you fall off you can tell passer byers to just look for the horse imitating a circus elephant. That should get the job done.

Hope this helps.

Paul N. Sidio
Spokane MO

Mar. 14, 2008, 11:23 AM
The first time I fell off my new horse (had him for about 5 months before it happened) I was wondering whats her going to do. Another horse in the ring dumped the rider and went galloping around. Jax doesnt fancy another horses coming too close to him especially at gallop, so he tried to move away and I was holding him at a halt. Anyway, not sure how it happened, but I went flying over him neck. I thought he would go off running all over, but he has quetly came up to me and thats how he was every time after. I havent trained him to specifically do it, but I did train him to ground tie and follow me everywhere (cavaletties, small oxers, etc) without the lead, so that might be the secret..

Mar. 14, 2008, 11:57 AM
:lol: Paul - that was funny! :lol:

I do have my own program for working with my Arab and it works wonders thus far. Yeah, she does jump sideways, do a funny three humping humping, or brake completely whenever she gets spooked. I've learned that I'd need to be MUCH BIGGER than her so she'd not spook which works.

Mar. 14, 2008, 12:03 PM
I start in the round pen (or other safe enclosed area), and teach my horses to "turn and face" me (a precursor to coming when called.)
I've also done the "emergency dismount" at the walk, and then ask my horse to turn and face me.

Auventera Two
Mar. 14, 2008, 12:20 PM
My Arab does the screech on the brakes and spin thing. I get unloaded every time. Sheesh. Just can't hang with it I guess. Anyway, as of yet, she's never run off. She just stands right there and waits for me to get back on. But I have done a little flying dismount stuff with her - just for fun. But also I have done a LOT (I mean a WHOLE LOT) of walking on foot with this horse. I've been walking her on the trails on a lead since she was weaned. I laugh sometimes because I pass somebody walking a dog, and I'm walking my horse. haha

I still routinely take her on a leadrope, and the dogs on a coupler on the other side of me, and set out down the road for a mile or two. I guess she's just learned that mom being on the ground is normal. I guess I've unknowingly "trained" her to stick by me when I'm on the ground. I think all the years of groundwork really does come into play.

Also I have some nasty hip and back pain sometimes and I have to get off and walk. It's not uncommon for me to dismount and mount 5 times during a 5 hour ride. :lol:

Mar. 14, 2008, 12:29 PM

My biggest motivator not to fall off is my back not being in perfect shape - due to falling off many times from my first silly Quarter mare, Prieta who was well known for bucking people off and bucking at other horses. It is funny to see what you did to your Arab- take her out for many walks which I did for many many weeks before I learned that she needed me to be on her to show her that I am the boss. Still, I like to take Abby out for walks before I can summon up the courage to ride her! :eek::o Still, your Arab sounds more spirited than mine. :eek:

I look forward to begin working with her this weekend! The ice and snow is going, going, and g o i n g away to their wee wee world! :D:cool:

Mar. 14, 2008, 12:53 PM
I can see wanting to train your horse to stay when you fall off, I can even see the actual training your horse to stay when you fall off, but what I can't see is practicing.

Over and over, till its right!:cool:


Mar. 14, 2008, 01:00 PM
As a prior instructor of eventing students,and taking tons of children foxhunting in the past, we trained over 30 horse and ponies to stay when losing their rider. We did this with the emergency dismount method, general ground work, AND the cookie method... This is something we generally teach EVERY horse we start at our farm.

Auventera Two
Mar. 14, 2008, 02:02 PM

My biggest motivator not to fall off is my back not being in perfect shape - due to falling off many times from my first silly Quarter mare, Prieta who was well known for bucking people off and bucking at other horses. It is funny to see what you did to your Arab- take her out for many walks which I did for many many weeks before I learned that she needed me to be on her to show her that I am the boss. Still, I like to take Abby out for walks before I can summon up the courage to ride her! :eek::o Still, your Arab sounds more spirited than mine. :eek:

I look forward to begin working with her this weekend! The ice and snow is going, going, and g o i n g away to their wee wee world! :D:cool:

She's a great little mare but she has a hot streak a mile wide.

Isn't this snow melt amazing! I'm so excited. I did a nice long ride last night on the sides of the roads and it was really nice. The footing is perfect right now. I can't wait to get back on the public trails though. This has been the longest, coldest, deepest winter I've ever seen up here. I love winter, but some nice weather would be ok for a change too. :)

Mar. 14, 2008, 03:39 PM
Quoting --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I start in the round pen (or other safe enclosed area), and teach my horses to "turn and face" me (a precursor to coming when called.)
I've also done the "emergency dismount" at the walk, and then ask my horse to turn and face me.Bearcat, "

This jusy proves thar rhere are many ways to get what you want from a horse.

I never let my biys turn & face me on the lunge.

Mar. 15, 2008, 08:54 PM
I taught my young mare voice commands when ground driving her as a baby. She was taught that "WHOA" means a complete and immediate stop RIGHT NOW!
I have come off about 4 times in the last year and a half, and every time but one she has stopped as soon as I yelled after her and waited for me to come get her. One time we were foxhunting and I guess the herding instinct was too strong. I would be really impressed if she came to a screaming halt in the middle of a group of galloping horses :)
The only trick with that is that you have to remember and use something else for "slow down" like easy or something like that. Save WHOA or HO for STOP NOW, if you use it for other stuff you will screw it up.

Mar. 20, 2008, 12:00 PM
PSidio That was hilarious!!:lol::lol:
The cookie thing is a good idea, or you could train yourself to hang onto the reins. I had that drummed into me for so long in lessons, it's now instinctive.