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Mounting

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  • Mounting

    I am happy to say my wild fire dragon is quickly settling down. We have moved into standing quietly at the mounting block (something she has never done before ever) and today I laid across her back from the mounting block with just her back on track pad on. She did good and stayed calm, as in not taking off any random direction at the speed of light. Granted we got there because when she did something I send her around the round pen and then tried again. Figured it would be easier to convince her to stand quietly and listen to what is asked when the counter offer is working hard. So now I am down to getting on her. As soon as I collect the reins at all or put my foot in the iron or even raise my leg she backs up. She walks forward as soon as I ask her to verbally, but I am wondering what suggestions you have on desensitizing her here. I can put pressure in the iron with my hands, it is only when I actually go to toss myself on. She was a racehorse. Abused badly. I brought her back and she was fabulous for my kids but was a rodeo for me to get mounted but once on, was good and calm. Kids I could just lift up at the time and she loved them. She has been turned out two years and buddy sour but that has dissipated far faster than I expected with daily walks and some round pen when misbehaving. Since she has the memory of an elephant and I am technically restarting her, I want to make sure everything is positive, calm, non threatening and correct so moving forward she is a solid citizen over all areas.

    Yes, I know I am rambling. Side effect of my exhausting life. But anyway, going out in the morning and would like to be able to get on and walk around so what suggestions do you have at this point.

  • #2
    I would teach her to stand and wait for you.
    Do some in hand work where you walk and halt.
    Does she wait quietly with you when you halt or does she try to walk off?
    When she consistantly stands and waits then you can transfer this to the mounting block.
    in my opinion, it really is the same skill. Waiting for you to give the next command or aid.
    if she is food oriented then you can try using peppermints and give her a treat when she stands still to be mounted .
    this worked for my greedy horse who would sometimes wait and sometimes wouldn't. Now he won't move until he gets his peppermints.
    Some horse trainers dont like this but I'm for whatever works easiest.
    Hope this helps.
    Certified Guacophobe

    Comment


    • #3
      If she was a racehorse, they are used to having riders chucked up on their back, not standing for mounting.

      You could try treats when she stands, that can work in some cases.

      I've always taught a horse to stand while mounting, though, by starting away from the mounting block. This really only works if you are tall/agile enough, but I gather the reins with the inside one shorter so if they move they just turn in a small controlled circle, then place my foot in the stirrup without putting any weight on it. If they don't move, take it out and let them relax, then do it again. If they move, bounce alongside going in the tiny circle until they stop, then take the foot out and let them relax. Once they let you put a foot in the stirrup without moving, I go to bouncing a bit, same deal, keep with them until they relax. Then bouncing a bit higher. Then going up and leaning across the saddle. Then back to the mounting block to try again.

      Basic gist is, even if they move, you aren't going anywhere and you are staying with them until they stop. Which is why being able to keep them turning in a small circle is important, in case of shenanigans you are still able to keep them under control and yourself safe. It's really just a series of baby steps.

      Alternatively, if you aren't tall enough, do a similar thing from the mounting block. But since she starts when you put your foot in the stirrup, start with just lifting your foot toward the stirrup. If she moves, calmly put her right back and do it again. If she doesn't move, set your foot back down, hop off the mounting block, and praise her. Then move to putting your foot in the stirrup, just a little. If she moves, put her right back. It might take some time and repetition, and calmly putting her right back where she was over and over until she gets the idea, and you HAVE to remember to completely get off the mounting block and praise her when she does it right.

      Comment


      • #4
        Rain Weasley- You early suggestions are entirely too athletic, and not really sensible or safe, particularly the bouncing.

        You final suggestion is both safe and sensible, but in any case another pair of patient quiet hands can bu useful. They should come equipped with a quiet demeanor, and lots of treats.

        Keep in mind tough, that some OTTB's react negatively to two sets of hands.
        Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

        Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.

        Comment


        • #5
          As you mention a rodeo, I would be starting from the beginning with long reining and lunging.
          It is better to ride 5 minutes a day than it is to ride 35 minutes on a Sunday.

          Comment


          • #6
            Someone on your other thread recommended you consider a "cowboy" type trainer. I would agree. They could sort out this mounting issue with a western saddle (no mounting block) pretty easily. Then transition to you using the block and English saddle.

            It is pretty easy to get injured mounting a difficult horse.

            Comment


            • #7
              The rider is most vulnerable between the time their foot leaves the ground and their bum hits the saddle.


              I start on the ground. I put my knee in the stirrup, and "jump" up. It's awkward, but I am not going to get stuck and if the horse moves I just step down. When the horse is okay with me hanging off his side we move on to the next step.

              Next I use a small, low block. I put my knee in the stirrup, jump up, and put my other foot on the block and take my knee out of the stirrup so I'm standing on the block. This is the same as the previous step I am just ending up on the block instead of on the ground.

              Next I stand with one foot on either side of the low block and jump up pulling on the saddle as if I were mounting using the stirrup and land on the block. This adds speed to the known action.

              When that's good I add the next step putting my knee in the stirrup, and up to lean over the horse, then knee out and slip down to the ground. The repeat of this exercise starts with jumping onto the block from the ground. When that's all good I repeat with my foot in the stirrup.

              By the time I swing my leg over the horse they have become accustomed to standing still while human messes around.


              I should mention that I'm starting babies and that these steps take days and many repetitions. These steps might be small enough for your horse to understand that you do want her to stand still.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by AnastasiaBeaverhousen View Post
                if she is food oriented then you can try using peppermints and give her a treat when she stands still to be mounted .
                this worked for my greedy horse who would sometimes wait and sometimes wouldn't. Now he won't move until he gets his peppermints.
                Some horse trainers dont like this but I'm for whatever works easiest.
                Hope this helps.
                Even those who aren't interested in using clicker training/treats for other things, often use it for mounting simply because it works so well. Some horses don't really like mints or sugar though, so I take some time to figure out what a horse does like before I start clicker training them. All of mine seem to prefer some kind of grain, or grain based treats.

                IMO, if treats don't work then the horse is too anxious/upset to be ready for mounting anyway, so that needs to be addressed first.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by merrygoround View Post
                  Rain Weasley- You early suggestions are entirely too athletic, and not really sensible or safe, particularly the bouncing.

                  You final suggestion is both safe and sensible, but in any case another pair of patient quiet hands can bu useful. They should come equipped with a quiet demeanor, and lots of treats.

                  Keep in mind tough, that some OTTB's react negatively to two sets of hands.
                  It definitely does take a bit of athleticism. But I wouldn't say its unsafe or insensible at all. I've had to retrain many horses with mounting issues this way, it's a good way to keep control of the situation and get horses used to weird things happening while being mounted. In my experience, the absolute worst horses to mount are the ones that have never been exposed to things going weird while being mounted, like bouncing, shifting, legs scraping over the butt, getting on both sides, etc. The way I do it, there is close to zero chance of getting hurt if the horse does anything unexpected.

                  Granted, it's about impossible to do with a taller horse, but about 16 hands or smaller (for my height) is fine. But again, its something you have to be careful doing. And as I don't know OP's build/level of athleticism, I might as well throw it out there.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Daily schooling. My boys had gotten silly about this so we have been in boot camp about it, every ride ever since.

                    Now I do a pretty logical thing (for me) my mounting block is a 3 step one and I have it so its facing into the corner of the ring so their heads are facing a 90 degree barrier in front of them (about 5' away) with the barn right behind it. So they're looking at home and (hopefully) more inclined to hold still while staring at their house. See attached graphic for better view. The Green parts of the edge are gates, pink is mounting block.

                    I start with leaning and then 1 foot in and over their back. They MUST stand still for all of this. They do not progress beyond the current question until it's 100% correct. I don't worry about time or "Oh but I have to ride" nope.... we do not pass go do not collect $200 UNTIL each step is done correctly. And if they're fidgety we stick with what they can handle and break it up with a hand walk around the end of the ring until they settle. One is 13 and one is 6 so neither are super green, they have just forgotten their manners and I recognize it's my job to reinstall said manners.

                    My normal progression would be:

                    Lean on back
                    Lean with foot in stirrup, most weight on back
                    Stand upright with foot in stirrup full weight and not swing leg over
                    Stand with weight in stirrup and then swing leg over slowly
                    Mount as normal.

                    Every horse has to remember that the 1 hour of domesticated obedience is not too high of a price for a life of luxury and relatively low expectations.

                    Em

                    "Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the judgment that something is more important than fear. The brave may not live forever but the cautious do not live at all." ~2001 The Princess Diaries

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Just feed her treats when she stands at the block and make the block a nice place to be.

                      It's really ok to feed the horse an occasional treat instead of just "working hard" or "working less hard" all the time.
                      The Noodlehttp://tiny.cc/NGKmT&http://tiny.cc/gioSA
                      Jinxyhttp://tiny.cc/PIC798&http://tiny.cc/jinx364
                      Boy Wonderhttp://tiny.cc/G9290
                      The Hana is nuts! NUTS!!http://tinyurl.com/SOCRAZY

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by RainWeasley View Post

                        It definitely does take a bit of athleticism.
                        So does training a horse, everyone.
                        The Noodlehttp://tiny.cc/NGKmT&http://tiny.cc/gioSA
                        Jinxyhttp://tiny.cc/PIC798&http://tiny.cc/jinx364
                        Boy Wonderhttp://tiny.cc/G9290
                        The Hana is nuts! NUTS!!http://tinyurl.com/SOCRAZY

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by meupatdoes View Post

                          So does training a horse, everyone.
                          Hahaha!! love that! But some of us are a bit less athletic and stretchy as we get older, and being vertically challenged with a taller horse can be a problem too! I wish I could still mount a tall horse as well as I could when I was younger. (some days I can, I've tested myself). I've treat trained my horses to stand still using the peppermint method. Works like a charm. They know the minute my butt hits the saddle they will get a peppermint (or once I'm settled). They turn their nose to my foot to look for a treat.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by meupatdoes View Post

                            So does training a horse, everyone.
                            It does, but you have to admit that mounting up is perhaps the most physically vulnerable position we ever put ourselves in with these beasties.

                            OP, I'm 5'1" so I'll never be the gal to teach a horse to let me get on from the ground. But I agree with teaching them to wait at the mounting block for as long as you say, no matter what you do up there. At least this horse has been mounted before. That makes this easier. But I have *that mare* who wants to run away from pressure. This was the horse I had to stop and train (and train and train and train) to wait. IMO (and learned from a cowboy who was helping me with a stoic, cold backed, kinda untrustworthy horse), the horse has to make it his responsibility to stand still and *allow you* to climb on. His idea is that we are just too physically vulnerable in that moment to not have a high level of "buy-in" from the horse. Of course, race horses are not required to buy in to standing still for an awkward mount up at all. So chances are that your mare doesn't like it and doesn't yet know that she must/how she can accept it. Notice that the problem isn't just "desensitization." It is more: It is teaching her a skill she genuinely doesn't know yet, it is teaching her tolerance and patience, and it is teaching her how to participate in her own training.

                            I don't like having more people in the mix. I think it's hard for horses to get "tag teamed" in their training because it's too many sources of pressure/signals/(predators?) to keep track of. I want to be the only variable in the system for them to consider and answer. I also try to do this with a mounting block in the middle of a ring or paddock or round pen. Again, the horse has to stand there because I did something to make that happen. You can do this in a corner, or even a stall (as some old schoolers used to do) with the idea that the walls or fence will help you discourage the horse from making a big, athletic move. I would not be opposed to that, but it would not be a substitute for the high-standard of stillness I'd teach.

                            If I were riding yours, I think I'd make sure this horse had a one-rein stop taught (via some long-lining). If I pick up that hand with firm feel and say whoa, that horse should know that he can earn peace by giving to that pressure and stopping his feet. He should know that well enough that the request doesn't bother him at all. He should feel confident that he knows the right answer that will earn him a release from me.

                            Assuming I had that basic, butt-saving button installed in the horse, I'd start with the mounting block, as you have done: The place of peace and rest in the round pen is right there at the mounting block with the stirrup by my toe. Any other place is higher pressure with moving feet. (At some point, the right stirrup needs to be what they bring to my right toe, too).

                            If I'm standing next to them on the block and lift the buckle of the reins, I think they should "hustle up" and be eager to position their body so that I can put my toe in the stirrup. Think of a good limo driver who lines up his client's door exactly with the red carpet. I pet them on the neck and behind the saddle when they are there. Then I pick up my reins, If they move, I stop and hustle them back into place. Then I magically and suddenly stop when they get there.

                            I do teach these horses how they can move their hind end toward me if I pick up the outside rein. It's a tad awkward at first, but you can teach 'em. You might start with taking up the outside rein and a tap on the outside hip with a dressage whip to follow, just to let them know that that rein signal on the outside meant that they had to *do something* with their feet and step away from that rein with a hind foot.

                            The idea is that when I stand up on the block, there's one right place for the horse to be, AND I can do most of the correction from the block. At first you might have to do some hustle-y ground work away from the block, but that gets harder to explain how to teach on the interwebz. The idea is that even if you are chasing the horse away, you stop when he does. And sooner or later, he associates safety with his position next to the block in the ring.

                            While I am on the block and I move my foot to put it in the stirrup, I correct any movement. If I put my foot in the stirrup, I correct any movement. the horse doesn't get very far before I start the correction. If he lifts a foot, I'm starting to make the correction before he has put it down somewhere away from the block. This is where you let them know that the standards for their behavior are still as high while mounting as they were when you were on the ground. Again, I think you need this degree of concentration from a horse when you are physically vulnerable; don't just breeze by it on your way to the real riding. It doesn't matter how they got on her on the track. It doesn't matter that you can put your kids up there. This isn't about just getting on the horse. It's about how you will get on the horse. No one has taught her yet. If you wouldn't think of not installing an aid for the canter (and just trot fast enough to canter), why would you skill teaching the mounting up repertoire?

                            In any case, when I feel comfortable that the horse won't be move in a "disproportionate way" (try to really run or explode or fling his head against the bit/rope halter hard enough that he might scare himself and really fling himself around), I stand in that stirrup. My new standard is that the horse should remain still while I stand there. Damn straight it's awkward for them. Maybe it's even uncomfortable. But it's not fast or frightening; their job is to just stand still by the mounting block, the same as it always has been. I do keep a shorter inside rein and a handful of mane. I don't worry about the outside rein: I don't want to trap the horse with both reins; they feel they have somewhere they can go. I know I can stay safe long enough to out-wait the horse who wants to walk in that tight circle or until I decide to jump down (but I keep that rein, even from the ground, until the one-rein stop is completed), if I start to worry about saving my bacon. They I hustle right back to the block and get that squared, positioned-up spot again. In other words, even if we leave the block and I get back down on the ground, the horse doesn't get any peace until he's right back by the block where he never should have left. When he's there, I suddenly stop and praise him. I hang out there to let him think and "reset" (emotionally) for a minute. Then I pick up the inside rein and offer him a second chance to get it right.

                            After that, I will swing over (the smoother half of mounting) when I feel them leaving their feet on the ground. If I didn't feel them solid and me safe doing that, I'd bend my knee while in that stirrup and put my body over the top, still with that inside (left) rein in my hand and maybe some mane. Either eway, I should feel the horse stay planted.

                            Just don't skip a step in which you insist that the horse stands right by the block, squared up, in balance and mentally content or still. If you never go onto the next step before you get that compliance, your technique will work. Keep high standards for the horse's mind and wait as need.
                            Last edited by mvp; Feb. 20, 2020, 11:04 AM.
                            The armchair saddler
                            Politically Pro-Cat

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by meupatdoes View Post
                              Just feed her treats when she stands at the block and make the block a nice place to be.

                              It's really ok to feed the horse an occasional treat instead of just "working hard" or "working less hard" all the time.
                              Yes, but I think the OP said the horse will do all that until she does the magic move of putting her foot in the stirrup?
                              The armchair saddler
                              Politically Pro-Cat

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by mvp View Post

                                Yes, but I think the OP said the horse will do all that until she does the magic move of putting her foot in the stirrup?
                                So flop the stirrup around with your arm, feed it a treat.

                                Lift your left leg up dramatically, feed it a treat.

                                Touch the stirrup with your toe, feed it a treat.

                                Put your foot in, feed it a treat.

                                Etc.


                                Also, SIDE NOTE:

                                It's often easier to practice mounting at the END of a ride.
                                Get on somehow at the beginning, ride around, and then at the end get off and back on a couple times. Do your training when the horse is in a less anxious or anticipatory headspace.
                                The Noodlehttp://tiny.cc/NGKmT&http://tiny.cc/gioSA
                                Jinxyhttp://tiny.cc/PIC798&http://tiny.cc/jinx364
                                Boy Wonderhttp://tiny.cc/G9290
                                The Hana is nuts! NUTS!!http://tinyurl.com/SOCRAZY

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by meupatdoes View Post

                                  So flop the stirrup around with your arm, feed it a treat.

                                  Lift your left leg up dramatically, feed it a treat.

                                  Touch the stirrup with your toe, feed it a treat.

                                  Put your foot in, feed it a treat.

                                  Etc.


                                  Also, SIDE NOTE:

                                  It's often easier to practice mounting at the END of a ride.
                                  Get on somehow at the beginning, ride around, and then at the end get off and back on a couple times. Do your training when the horse is in a less anxious or anticipatory headspace.
                                  Love the side note. That absolutely works! (Ask my mare about when she wants to open the gate....).
                                  The armchair saddler
                                  Politically Pro-Cat

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Before I even start teaching to mount, I teach stand. Pretty much like a stay for a dog. Then I use "stand" to translate over to mounting. Every one of my horses gets led to the mounting block, squares up, gets told "stand", gets a treat, I get climb up and get on, once I'm settled, I tap the right side of the neck, they bend around and get their treat for standing and then I ask them to move on. I mount from a lot of weird things doing endurance and orienteering and it works every time
                                    Wouldst thou like the taste of butter ? A pretty dress? Wouldst thou like to live deliciously?

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Also, after you get on, stand around (if you can). If you can't just stand on a loose rein, try flexing side to side. By standing around (again, if you can - if you feel that "I'm going to blow" tightness for god's sake walk for a minute) after getting on, she's going to start to learn - a person on my back doesn't automatically mean "go!".

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        I agree with meupatdoes and others about treats. I LOVE using treats to teach standing at the mounting block.

                                        However, with OTTBs, I don't fuss and bounce and slither when getting on. They are used to a professional, light rider settling quietly in the saddle from a leg up. They are less tolerant of awkward straining, stirrup twisting, heaving aboard. It's physically uncomfortable for them when you stand in the left stirrup for a length of time; it pulls the saddle onto the spine, digs tree point into the right shoulder, and makes the horse think mounting is unpleasant. I watched a video of a cowboy mounting from the ground WITH NO GIRTH, and he made it look easy. They key is to stand close to the horse's shoulder, left hand on mane and reins, right hand NOT on the cantle but on the right saddle flap. Keep your center of gravity close to the saddle, kick your right leg high enough to clear the horse's hip. When mounting racehorses (from a block, in an exercise saddle with half a tree) I get on quick, lightly settling into my knees off the horse's back as I toe into the right stirrup.

                                        Should a horse stand patiently as you scramble like a monkey? Sure that would be nice, but I want to make mounting easy and stress-free for my horses, so they never develop anxiety in the first place.
                                        A clever person solves a problem. A wise person avoids it.
                                        ? Albert Einstein

                                        ~AJ~

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