Monday, May 17, 2010

Horse Training – Correcting a Horse that Moves Away when Mounting

A friend of mine, Tony, approached me the other day asking me what to do about his horse that tries to move away from him as he tries to climb into the saddle.

I went through the reasons the horse may be moving away:
1. The Horse is just not ridden enough - this may be a problem that a lot of wet saddle blankets may solve.
2. The Horse may be getting much too much energy from excessive feed. I've seen people feed 25 lbs of Alfalfa a day plus 5 lbs of Sweet Feed, cracked corn and such. Too much high energy fed makes for a hot horse.
3. You could be putting too much foot in the stirrup and, in effect, kicking the horse in the barrel – which would certainly make the horse try to move away from that pressure.
4. Could be that you are leaning back when trying to mount, in effect pulling the horse towards you which would cause the horse to compensate by moving away.
5. Whatever the cause, this is a human problem, not a horse problem.

Try this: As you start to mount, short the rein on the side you are mounting, tipping the horse's head slightly to that side so if the horse tries to move off as he is mounted you can easily pull the horse into a circle. If you pull on the horse's head as you mount he will move his hindquarters away, so make sure you are not doing this.

Remember those old Cowboy movies where the actors are mounting and their horses are moving in circles cause their heads are being pulled around?

As you mount your horse, be sure not to stick too much foot into the stirrup, not only to keep from booting the horse, but as a safety measure too, in case the horse bolts and get away from you - no use in being dragged. I have a friend who mounted without holding the reins and the horse took off flipping him over his butt. He received a spiral fracture of his wrist - could have been worse.

As you mount keep your body close to the horse and use your legs to push yourself up into the saddle. Some people lean way to far back and use their arms to try and pull themselves up into the saddle, in effect pulling the horse off balance and the horse will react by moving away from the pressure.

If you do everything correct and the horse stills tries to move away from you, then dismount and put some energy into moving the horse in a couple tight circles. Then offer to him to stand still and try mounting again. It make a couple times and a couple circles but this usually works as the horse understands standing still is much easier and preferable to moving quickly in small circles. Ray Hunt called it “Make the wrong thing difficult and the right thing easy.”

Some people like to put the horse up against a fence blocking his movement away. I don't do this and think it is unnecessary as it only leaves the horses the option of moving forward or into you. Ever had you foot stepped on by a horse?

If you mount and the horse begins to move forward without a cue, then back him a few steps. If he tries to walk off as you get in the saddle he probably also does other things he has a mind to without cues from the rider. Fixing him on the mount will make him better.

Hope this helps. Safe Journey.

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