ASK THE TRAINER
Canadian Horse Annual 2016
Our experts answer common training questions with common sense.
How can I get my horse to stand still for mounting?
Horses move when being mounted either because they are unbalanced, in pain or being ridden has not been a good-experience for them [or they simple do not know they should stand still and/or they are very eager to "go" - Keith Hunt]. As with most behavioural problems, check that all your tack fits your horse properly, that his teeth are healthy and he has no areas of pain in his body. Then follow these steps:
1. Use a mounting block. Mounting from the ground torques the saddle and makes it more difficult for your horse to balance while you mount.
2. Teach your horse to stand square so that he is balanced and won't need to shift his weight as you mount.
3. If your horse steps sideways or turns towards you, create a boundary on the opposite side by placing your mounting block close to a fence or wall or place poles on the ground to create a chute.
4. Ask him to bend around you by stroking just behind the girth so that his barrel is moved slightly away from you and his nose is tipped slightly towards you. Pulling his nose in too far puts him off balance.
5. Take up enough contact on both reins so that if your horse moves forward, you can put a block on the reins.
6. If he backs up, check how much tension you have on your reins, as that may be the cause of him backing up. Then tap his flank to ask him to move forward.
7. If he barges forward, move him around the mounting block until he's back where he started.
8. Put your foot in the stirrup making sure your toe points forwards slightly - not pushing into your horse's barrel. If your horse stands quietly, put some weight in your stirrup.
9. Push yourself straight up as if you are stepping up on a ladder - keep your upper body tall so that you don't collapse on your horse's back. Swing your right leg up and over your horse and gently lower yourself into the saddle.
At each step, praise him with a soft voice and a scratch on the withers when he stands still for several seconds. End the session at any point where you feel you have made progress. — Anne Gage, ConfidentHorsemansbip. com
[Ask your horse to bend his head toward you and maintain contact on both reins in order to prevent him from moving forward as you mount].
Do you have any tips for bridling a head shy horse?
Building trust and confidence with a head shy horse takes time, patience and consistency. Treat his head and neck with great respect, never pushing, pulling or hitting him there. When you are, grooming him or just hanging out, take
Practice getting your horse to bring his head in toward you by stroking his "bend button" at the girth area.
Hold the bridle in your right hand, using your right arm to block your horse from moving his head away, and guide the bit into his mouth with your left hand.
the opportunity to gently touch, stroke or massage his neck, poll, ears and muzzle. Don't force him to accept it, and just do a little each time.
Train him to bring his head to you by stroking his "bend button" at the girth. Facing your horse, stroke his girth. Put your weight in your leg furthest from his head so that your hip nearest his head is "open." This creates an invitation for him to bring his head towards you without reading any threatening body language from you.
At first, do not touch his head when he brings it in. Slide your hand up from his girth to his withers and reward him with a nice wither scratch. When he leaves his head in and seems relaxed (perhaps he even sighs), bring your other hand up towards his muzzle and allow him to sniff your hand. Practice doing this with the bridle hanging from your left arm.
Next, gently place your hand on top of his nose as you turn forwards. Bring your right arm under his head and up over his nose to create a boundary that prevents him from lifting his head up or taking it to the right. Place the bridle in your right hand holding it in the middle. Still keeping the block on his head with your right hand and arm, guide the bit to his mouth with your left hand. — Anne Gage, ConfidentHorsemanship.com
TAKE LOTS OF TIME TO SLOWLY TOUCH THE UPPER PART OF HIS NECK; THE POLL; HIS CHEEKS, OVER HIS EYES, DOWN HIS FACE, OVER AND AROUND HIS NOSE. THE EARS ARE OFTEN IN HEAD SHY HORSES, THE HARDEST PART TO WORK WITH, YOU HAVE TO GO EVEN SLOWER - TINY TOUCH AT THE BASE FOR PERHAPS A NUMBER OF TIMES, SLOWLY MAKING MORE PROGRESS UP EACH EAR….. YOU NEED LOTS OF PATIENCE HERE [SAD TO SAY MANY PEOPLE DO NOT HAVE THE PATIENCE] - I MEAN SLOW AND PATIENT. YOU HAVE TO GET WHERE HE DOES NOT MIND YOUR HANDS ALL OVER HIS EARS, MOVING THEM BACK AND FORTH, FOR THIS WILL NEED TO BE DONE TO BRIDLE HIM. WHILE DOING ALL THIS GENTLY TALK TO HIM - SOOTHING VOICE SOUNDS REALLY DO GIVE HIM TRUST AND HELP HIM TO RELAX - HORSE PEOPLE REALLY DO NEED TO LEARN TO TALK TO THEIR HORSE MORE, IT HAS ALWAYS AMAZED ME THAT MOST NEVER DO….. IT IS NOW A PROVEN FACT HORSES LIKE SMOOTH SOUNDS, NO DIFFERENT THAN COWS, ONE VERY GOOD REASON WHY COWBOYS SANG TO THEIR HERD OF COWS AT NIGHT….RELAXING AND BUILDING TRUST, THAT THE COWBOY MOVING THEM DURING THE DAY, WAS STILL THERE AT NIGHT TO PROTECT THEM.
SO…. S L O W AND GENTLE, SOFT SOUNDS, IN WORKING WITH A HEAD-SHY HORSE - Keith Hunt