ASK THE TRAINER

Canadian Horse Annual 2016


TRAINING

Our experts answer common training questions with common sense.



Question


How can I get my horse to stand still for mounting?


Answer


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].



Question


Do you have any tips for bridling a head shy horse?


Answer


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