Day 9 Of The Confident Rider Challenge
Having your horse stand still for mounting is amazing. If you have never had to experience your horse dancing around and side stepping, consider yourself lucky. A common problem that I have seen people deal with time and time again is a horse that walks of while you are trying to get in the saddle.
Have you ever payed attention to other people’s horses when they get into the saddle? I have. I am always watching to see if there horse stands still, or if he starts to walk off before the get settled in the saddle. It may be odd, but I pay attention to what other riders are doing with their horses. I look to see if I am doing things the same way or differently than they are doing. You can always learn something new. And when it comes to horses, I am thirsty for knowledge to be the best rider I can be.
Sometimes it’s hard to tell, because someone is holding the horse’s head while the rider mounts. But most often I see a horse start to walk away before the rider is even in the saddle. They hurry to get into the saddle before their horse walks off.
This even happened to me a lot when I was taking my riding lessons. I really didn’t like that. I know the horses in a riding lesson program like to test their riders, but I found that frustrating.
Encouraging Your Horse To Stand Still
We want to encourage our horses to stand still and remain stationary for mounting and one way to do this is to incorporate the mounting block into your ground work.
I like to use the mounting block as an area to rest. My horse works in the arena, and when its time for a rest, I take him over to stand (rest) at the mounting block. He has learned to associate the mounting block with rest and standing still.
I further this by standing on the mounting block and leaning over his back. If he stands still, he gets to rest. But as soon as he moves intentionally, like moving off to the side, or backing away from the block, he goes back to work.
Repetition And Consistency
This goes back to the repetition and consistency process. The more you do it, the better your horse will become. And after your horse stands still at the block or leaning over the saddle, then you can increase the test by putting your foot into the stirrup, and then working up to standing in the stirrup, and completing the process by swinging your leg over and gently sitting in the saddle.
If you are able to do all of these things with your horse remaining still, once you are seated in the saddle just sit there. Don’t be tempted to walk off. By having your horse continue to rest, and you not push him in to further work, this will help keep him quiet at the mounting block and standing still until you ask him to move forward.
Anything Worth Achieving Is Never Easy
And this isn’t an easy process, and after a while, you and your horse might get back into the habit again of you put your foot in the stirrup, and he starts walking off. If this happens, you have to go back to the basics, and start over.
For the first few times you are able to completely be seated in the saddle it’s a good idea to make this your stopping point for the day.
And the most amazing thing about this exercise is that it is so easy to see results fast. You do need to be consistent, and work on this every time you are working with your horse on the ground from this point forward in the challenge. But being able to see your once prancing pony stand still by the mounting block is a truly confident building experience.
This is a fun one, in my opinion. Work with your horse in your arena, or wherever you are riding, and working. Be sure to have the mounting block in there as well. Work your horse for a good 10 to 15 minutes, and then bring him for a rest to the mounting block. When he is standing still, practice all of these tips, standing on the block, foot in the stirrup, jumping up and down next to your horse.
And try to practice this whenever you are working with your horse. I think you will be amazed at how fast your horse will pick up on this. For me, this was one of the fastest improvements I saw with Ethan. He had figured out the correlation of rest and mounting block in only 2 lunging/groundwork sessions. So give it a try, and see if you have as big a success with your horse!