Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Horses with Happy Feet - Won't Stand Still

I received two recent questions on horses that can't stand still. One on a horse who won't stand for saddling and another horse who won't stand still with a rider on his back.

Joyce wrote: "Thanks for your videos and site. I have not seen a video on youtube about my problem. I have a 12 yr old mare. She will NOT stand still for saddling no matter what. She moves back and forth, side to side etc. I put the saddle on and boom it is on the ground before I can get the saddle even slightly secured. I have tried her tied and untied. I have made her move and move some more and then try it again to no avail. To saddle now, I do while she is eating her grain which is really not fixing the problem. Thank you so much. I know she has an attitude but need some ideas about this. Joyce."

I am glad you recognize the saddling while feeding your horse to get her to stand still is only treating the symptoms. And while feed issues can contribute to a horse's behavior, meaning too much feed, particularly too much high energy feed can make a horse seem kind of hyper. But your mare's issue is most like a lack of respect. No offense but she may just be a spoiled horse. This is common and not her fault. She is going to do what she thinks she needs to do.

I think you have the right idea about making her move around and I suspect you then offer her a chance to stand - which is making the wrong thing work and the right thing a rest. And while this lesson is absorbed by many horses, some take longer to learn this.

I would consider doubling down on my ground work and concentrating on helping her find respect. If you watch most trainers working with a troubled horse or a horse with some problems, you would see that horse being basically started over.....being lunged in a round pen; getting that horse to move his feet; getting that horse to focus on the human; generally making the wrong thing a bunch of work or pressure and the right thing generating an immediate release. Letting that horse stand tied and learning some patience that standing still is a good thing will most likely help as well.

KK e-mailed a request to help sort out a horse that won't stand still. "My horse, a five year old gelding, just can't stand still. He doesn't jump around, just wants to continuously move his feet. It's embarrassing when I'm with friends on horses and I have to try and control him as opposed to engaging in conversation. Do you have any ideas on how to deal with this? Thanks."

Hey KK, a five year old is still a pretty young horse especially if he has only been ridden a couple dozen times a year or so. The easy advice is that a lot of wet saddle blankets will make him a more seasoned horse and stop or lessen the moving around which is most likely a little anxiety.

But what you may do is not to try and control his movement and get him to stand still but to use that energy and have him work. In other words if he wants to move then let him move but under your direction. Have him soften his head and back a step; have him move his back end over - have him move his front end over. Side pass him a step or two in each direction. This is all good for him.

I suspect that if you do this repetitively it will most likely be good for him but help him find the rest spot when standing still when asked. Safe Journey to both KK and Joyce.

1 comment:

  1. Great article! I found it to be very informative and informational. Thanks for sharing!