HOW TO TEACH A HORSE TO
STAND STILL WHILE A RIDER MOUNTS
One of the most irritating problems for
some riders is a horse that walks off while they are mounting.
Horse traders can add a few hundred dollars to a horse's sale
price by teaching it to stand still while a rider mounts. Horse
trainers spend time adding this item to a well-trained horse's
regimen. What can we do at home to keep a horse standing correctly
when we mount?
Twister Heller, Congress, Arizona horse
trainer, has a few helpful steps that he uses in his training
- First Twister has the horse stand
in a spot where the horse is comfortable and standing squarely
four feet. Then Twister prepares to mount by having his
left hand on the reins, puts his left foot in the stirrup
and his right hand on the saddle horn. Note that, contrary
to what some of us have been taught, Twister likes both
reins short and even. The reins should not be pulling on
the horse's mouth (making it back up), but still should
be short enough to check any forward movement quickly and
easily. Twister likes both reins even so that the horse
will not be pulled in any direction.
puts his weight in the stirrup, ready to check any forward
movement of the horse with his left hand. Initially, for
training purposes, Twister usually goes slowly, allowing
the horse to think about the process and understand what
he wants. When the horse is not moving, Twister finishes
the mounting, by swinging his right leg over and settling
into the saddle.
- A final, but very important step---Twister
then sits quietly on the horse for several seconds, not
allowing it to go forward until Twister is ready. That teaches
the horse not to move until the rider asks it to move.
- Occasionally, a horse will decide
that it will try to back up every time you try to mount.
To stop that, while standing on the ground, Twister will
sharply pull directly forward with the reins each time the
horse goes backwards. He is sure to remove his cowboy martingale
or other extra gear when he does this so he will not give
the horse any confusing signals. He will repeat the tugs
until the horse will allow him to approach from the side
and mount without its backing up.
- A person without the strength or
agility to mount correctly is at a disadvantage with this
procedure. Those persons who cannot step directly up using
one hand on the reins and one on the saddle horn should
still check the horse's forward movement as often as they
can while mounting. Often that can be done with one or both
feet still on the ground and again when the rider has mounted.
They can be extra careful to keep the horse standing several
seconds before they ask the horse for forward movement after
they are mounted. As with most training techniques, taking
time to let the horse know what is expected and repetition
are the keys.
Heller operates a horse and rider training facility in Congress,
Arizona. He may be reached at P.O. Box 747, Congress, Arizona,
85332. His telephone number is 928-427-6335.
A version of this article first appeared
in Western Horseman Magazine: August 1999, p. 152.