How to Prevent Moving When Mounting
When Your Horse Walks Off When You’re Trying to Mount
-a Horse Training article by Pat Parelli
We’ve all seen the desperate rider who’s halfway up into the saddle when the horse jogs off. The rider starts yelling and grasping for horn, saddle string, cantle, breast collar, pommel, mane – anything that he or she can reach. It may sound (and look) funny, but that can be a very dangerous situation.
Getting your horse to stand while you mount is not difficult. A horse that’s being mounted starts into motion when he gets off balance. So most of this “he won’t stand” behavior is caused when people ask the horse to bear their weight during mounting (lopsided, mostly) when the horse is unbalanced. The horse shifts around to gain his balance, and then he just keeps moving.
Mounting Problems Can Be Prevented
1. Ground Play
Play with your horse until he gets left-brained, is listening to you, and wants to stand still. This means all Seven Games, including a lot of Friendly Game, which involves repetition: tossing the lead rope over his back, flopping the saddle pad off and on, lifting your foot toward the stirrup and back down (over and over until it ceases to bother your horse).
Play the Seven Games before you saddle up; you’ll find out what side of the corral he woke up on.
Position your horse so his feet are braced in readiness for you to get on. Cause the horse to spread his legs to best balance himself. This can be easily done by pushing and pulling on the saddle horn; rock the horn or pommel from side to side and actually try to unbalance your horse. You’ll feel the horse spread his front legs and square up behind. He’ll get into a position where he kinda says, “Hey, you can’t knock me off balance.”
Make a little game of it until he just thinks that the way to prevent you from rocking him is to spread his legs and stand solid.
Assess the Situation
If you get up on the horse and he starts to walk off before you want him to, and if you’re in a good, safe position, I want you to think of one of two things. You need to determine quickly if the horse is just sort of drifting off and sauntering away, or is he getting right-brained, tight, fast and furious.
If the horse is getting fast and furious, get off and start again. Evidently you didn’t do enough preparation on the ground (Seven Games, assessing the horse with the “Parelli pre-flight checklist”).
If the horse is just drifting a little bit, there’s a saying to keep in mind: “Lift to stop the drift.” The lift I’m talking about is the rein in your left hand (if you’re mounting from the left side). Whatever side you’re mounting from, lift straight up on that rein – don’t pull back, don’t pull sideways, just lift the rein straight up. Just try to get in his way a little bit, and if you have to, just bend him a little and then stand there until he squares up. Instead of getting on, step down. Then put your foot in the stirrup and step up again.mount your horse three times on each side
This is one of the tasks in our Level 1 program we recommend: mount three times on each side.
This gives you the skills and physical and mental fitness to teach the horse to stand still. Both of you should practice this little drill together: down and up, down and up, down and up, stand halfway up, and when he stands still, reach over and rub him on the far shoulder to ask “permission” to get on.
If he stands still, go ahead and get on (settle gently into the saddle and find your other stirrup without looking, if possible). Sit there for 30 seconds minimum (this is the hurry-up-and-wait stage). Be friendly. Smile. Don’t go anywhere or you’ll teach the horse the habit of moving as soon as you mount.
Teach your horse to be still and polite by doing this every time you mount; it’s a way to develop a good habit.
Don’t Forget the Dismount
One last thing that gets horses good about being dismounted is this: every time you dismount, do the same three-times drill (up-down, up-down, up-down). He’ll learn to stand still while you smoothly dismount.
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