How to get a horse to stand still while I mount

Last post 08-16-2008 8:13 AM by 875509. 11 replies.
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  • 07-08-2008 8:25 PM

    How to get a horse to stand still while I mount

    The horse I ride has developed an annoying habit of moving when I try to mount. When I first get into the arena, I adjust my stirrups and tighten the girth and then walk over to the mounting block. Once I put the reins over his head, he will move forward or he'll move to the side - anywhere away from the block. I'll move the block and he'll move again. Tonight he even started to move backward to avoid the mounting block. I've tried to position him around the jumping standards so that he can't move away, but he's figured out how to get around them. He's starting to move right after I put the reins over his head. He used to do this last year, but then stopped for awhile. Now he's back to doing it. What can I do to get him to stand still so I can mount him?


  • 07-08-2008 9:12 PM In reply to

    Re: How to get a horse to stand still while I mount

    A simple solution to this seems to be making moving away from the mounting block harder than simply standing still. When the horse goes to move away, make the horse work by yielding or even light lunging around you until the horse WANTS to stand still. If the horse decides to back up, well fine then, make the horse back up until he's tired and wants to stand still. Then try mounting again. Give the horse the option of release by standing still while you mount or working when the horse won't let you mount.

    That's what I'd do and have done before. It woked for me.

    Owner of Flight of the Phoenix (Phoenix)
  • 07-08-2008 9:19 PM In reply to

    Re: How to get a horse to stand still while I mount

    My horse used to pull the same trick with me.  He actually has a lot of tricks he tries to use to get out of working.  I solved this problem, and many others by doing a lot of ground work with him to establish that I am the boss. 

    Instead of moving the block to the spot he moves to, move him back to the exact spot you want him.  He is winning every time you move the block.  Take him to the block and tell him "whoah".  If he moves, back him up and bring him back to the exact spot you want him. Make him stay there for progressively longer periods of time and then release him by moving forward.  This will teach him to move when YOU say so.  If he continues to move, add more work than just backing him up.  Back him a few steps and make him do a small circle, then return to the block.

    If he moves off after you've mounted him, do the same thing.  Back him up, and make him stand still until you give him the aids to go forward.  If he refuses to stand still, disengage his hips.  Horses hate this and will stop.  Take one rein out sideways and backwards and turn your upper body in that direction.  Always give with the opposite rein so he will be able to turn his head.  Give pressure with your inside leg back until he moves his hindquarters away from your leg. 

    Bending his neck and head is also a great exercise before you mount, once mounted and at the end of a ride.   It makes him supple and helps him to accept the bit.   Whenever my horse acts spooky, or wants to look at other things, I bend him to get his attention and make him stand still.  I reach down the reins as far as I can, pulling the rein out sideways (again give with the other rein), and giving short "bumps" until he turns his head.  If he pulls against you, just hold tight until he "gives", Timing is important, so as soon as his head turns, you release and let go of the reins.  This teaches hiim what you expect of him.  Then you can progress and each time he "gives" you can bring his head further back.  Eventually, he should turn his head all the way back to the tip of your boot without resistance.  You can even begingriding forward and bending at the same time.  You can also teach him to bring his head down, by bending with both reins, but not bringing the reins as far back. 

    I hope this makes sense!  I learned this at a Clinton Anderson clinic.  An amazing fact I learned there was that you have to teach your horse the same thing on both sides.  I always knew this, but didn't know why.  I thought it was just so they'd be balanced.  But, t's like having to train two horses.  Just because he's learned it on the right, doesn't mean he automatically knows it on his left. 

  • 07-08-2008 9:39 PM In reply to

    Re: How to get a horse to stand still while I mount

    I watched a video on a women who taught threw "horse sense".  The way she said to teach a horse not to move is to get all saddled and ready, then position the mounting block and move the horse towards the mounting block.  If he refuses to move, she said to bring a long whip and to position him in the correct spot.  Now the real problem is when you are going to get on.  She said to put your knee on the side of the saddle like your about to get up.  As he moves, come down from the mounting block and reposition him.  Repeat this as many times as needed, it sounds like a lot of work but I did it with my horse and he no longer moves a muscle.  Also, if he is making the mounting block as a connection to riding, bring some treats and place them on top of the block and allow him to go up and smell it and eat them. 


    I know it sounds long but nothing comes easy! Hope this helps!! :]

  • 07-11-2008 1:06 PM In reply to

    Re: How to get a horse to stand still while I mount

    Just like the others said, work on ground manners, give him more work to do, move him back to the spot you want him to be.

    I believe a horse  should know the voice commands of "whoa" and "stand".  Whoa meaning stop and I mean stop on this spot or I'll back you up to it. And stand meanding stand still until I ask you do to something else, or I'll back you into the spot I want you to stand on. Even if you have to repeat the backing up 25 times, do it.  Eventually the horse will get tired of playing the game and realize you are not going to give up until he/she does exactly as aksed. Wait a few seconds, then praise your horse! Or when mount and he's stood still for a few seconds, praise him. Good boy!!! Don't forget the praise, that's an importan reward for a horse. It's kind of like Survivor - outwit and outlast and you'll come out the winner. Your horse wins, too, for understanding his/her job with you.

  • 07-11-2008 3:09 PM In reply to

    Re: How to get a horse to stand still while I mount

     I second the extra work ideas. If he backs up, get right in his face and back him up aggressively halfway across the arena! Wave the reins or a lunge whip or your arms at him. Make BIG gestures so he moves fast. If he turns away, get right in his face and make him circle really tightly and fast. Keep his nose close to you and push his haunches out with a whip, and YOU won't have to turn as much as he is. You want him to get dizzy - not you! If you do these things every single time he offers to move, you should see a difference in just a couple of days. Then you'll have to reinforce it every once in a while, but less and less often as he gets used to the idea.


    We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit. -- Aristotle
  • 07-11-2008 3:41 PM In reply to

    Re: How to get a horse to stand still while I mount

    There are a couple of methods to try and the one that will work the best depends somewhat on you and your horse's personality.  Here are a few ideas that I have heard or used:

    1) Leave his halter on or attach a lunge to the bridle and knot your reins so that they won't fall, get tangled up, get stepped on, etc.  Approach the mounting block and ask him to stand.  Put the reins over his head as usual and as soon as he starts to move send him away hard and lunge him.  You don't have to run him into the ground or beat him around the circle, but make him keep up a brisk working trot at least.  After a minute or two ask him to stop, lead him to the mounting block (or position the block next to him, either way) and repeat as necessary.  He'll soon get the idea that if he stands still and lets you mount that he is standing (that's "easy") but if he goes to move away he has to work hard.

    You do the same if he starts moving away when you put your foot in the stirrup.  The downside to this is it can be hard to implement if he is moving away after you've started to swing up and over.  It can be done probably or you can try a different method when you get him to that point.

    2) Every time he moves move him right back to the block (exactly where he was); don't move the block to him.  That's more work, especially if you are making him back or sidepass to get back where he was.

    3) if he backs or sidepasses away from the block make him keep backing or sidepassing for more distance than he's really willing to go.  Again, it's easier and less work to stay at the block.  This is sort of like saying "O, ok, you want to back, well then ok, it's now *MY* idea to back and we are going to back *ALOT*"

    You might be able to accomplish this one even if you are mostly or completely in the saddle; just do it from on his back and once you stop ask him to go back to the mounting block, dismount, and repeat until he stands to be mounted (or sufficient progress is made for the day).

    4) if he's moving once you are already mostly in the saddle you can also try turning tight circles or backing, then walking back to the mounting block, dismounting, and starting over.

    Also make sure when you mount you don't walk off right away.  Stand there for at least a few seconds before asking him to walk on.  You may even want to incorporate stretching, bending, and giving exercises into the beginning of the ride and stand there working on those for awhile before he ever takes a step.

    I wanted to add that it's a good idea to also look at how you are mounting.  Make sure you aren't accidentially jabbing him with your boot or hitting him in the mouth.  Also make sure you mount as smoothly and controled as possible; the less you force him to shift his weight by being unbalanced or "plop" down on his back the less excuse he has for stepping a foot out of place.
  • 07-11-2008 10:04 PM In reply to

    Re: How to get a horse to stand still while I mount

    I agree with the others, I would NEVER move the mounting block, move the horse!  and make the mounting block the place of rest so he wants to move by golly move move ALLOT make it a bit more than he bargend for (I might even keep my lead and halter and do a little "longing" and let him rest at the block.  For some it might be enough just to move him right back to the same place every time untill he stands there (keep in mind your whole work time may be spent on this problem and I wouldn't reall plan on riding) but once you fix it it'll be a lot better!

    Good luck!

  • 07-12-2008 7:24 AM In reply to

    Re: How to get a horse to stand still while I mount

     Do check your saddle fit!  If this is a new problem, that may actually be the root.  Horses' backs change over time, and sometimes a good-fitting saddle will start pressing on muscles that weren't there before (or vice-versa if the horse has been out of work).  

    Beyond that, I recommend clicker training.  I've used it successfully with all of my horses even when other trainers' methods failed (like the one who told me to make eye contact and stare the gelding down till he stood still--I think that guy would still be chasing Zip around the indoor if I hadn't been there Stick out tongue).  I believe many horses are never actually trained to stand for mounting.  They do it a few times (or even for years), and we assume it's a behavior they're solid on, but it's never been singled out for focus. 

    What I do is put the horse and the mounting block in the round pen.  I do some basic round-pen exercises first to get his attention and cooperation, then ask him to stop and stand by the block, positioning him as needed.  I click-treat, then send him out again.  We do this a few times till he catches on and goes straight to the block without any further suggestions from me.  

    Next I saddle up and take him into the ring and position him by the block.  I just ask him to stand there, and I click-treat if he does. Then I lead him away and do it again.   I increase the required time of standing until it's more than enough  for me to mount.  Then it's partway in the saddle and down, and so on till he's standing like a rock.  For a few rides, I click-treat from the saddle so he knows he's done exactly what I wanted.  And I make a big fuss and congratulate him like he's won the Derby.  LOL

    Again, I can't stress enough that a change in behavior can signal some underlying problem.  In my Appy's case, it was a saddle that hit his hip and a stiffness that came from an old injury prior to my buying him.  A different saddle and a workup by the chiro took care of both problems, and the clicker got him solid at the block again.  

    "Four things greater than all things are
    women and power and horses and war."
  • 07-18-2008 6:46 AM In reply to

    Re: How to get a horse to stand still while I mount


    first of all he needs to learn how to stand in general.  in cross ties, etc does he stand for you?

    once you have that, when you go to mount therea re soemthings you can do

    lead him him, put the reins over his head, and get up like you always do.  shorten the reins well up so you have contact with his mouth and a bit of mane.  tell him WHOA.  take it slowly, everytime you start to mount and he starts to scoot stop, and say WHOA again.  if he moves put him right back. I said in another post its like a kid that keeps running out of time out, you keep setting him right back.  if you horse takes a step back, move him a step up, etc. 

    be patient, firm and consistant

    good luck!

    PM me for Graphics. Look for the OAP or FH for FLyinHy, this marks it as one I made. If there is a Copyright symbol I have rights to the photo
  • 07-19-2008 1:02 AM In reply to

    Re: How to get a horse to stand still while I mount

    I use a combination of calmly stepping the horse back each time he steps forward and systematically using food rewards. I taught my current horse to stand for a piece of apple, Gradually, he had to stand for longer and longer to get the treat. If he moved, I would stop with the rein and ask for a few steps back. But really, the trick was to progress the training so gradually that he never felt the need to move off. Each time he was able to stand a little longer with my foot a little closer to the stirrup, I would reward with apple pieces and give him a break - i.e. move away a little. He stands beautifully now. I know using food is not very trendy and even considered politically incorrect  by some Stick out tongue But it really works, and if you do it right, your horse will never maul you for his treats.


    There is an excellent article by an equine behaviorist about getting the horse to keep doing what you have asked him to do (e.g. stand still) here:



    All the best



  • 08-16-2008 8:13 AM In reply to

    Re: How to get a horse to stand still while I mount

    I like Camille's method and would do similar.

    I never want to 'make moving forward hard' or tire my horse out to get him to do something, I want my horse to be fresh when I ride him, and very eager to go forward at any time, but I also want to teach my horse, not punish him or have him think going forward is a punishment for a mistake, so I have a different way of going about it.  I actually use going forward as a reward, not a punishment.

    I make the horse stand still at the mounting block.  When I want a horse to stand still, I don't make him move around in order to teach that.  I never like to do the opposite of something in order to teach something.  I do take my time and if he wants to monkey around, he will just get corrected over and over til he stands still there and behaves himself. 

    The reins can check the foreward movement, and also, the rein you pick to bend the neck can help you keep the hind quarters from swinging.  Yup.

    You can 'block' the hind quarter motion by turning the head that way.  Say, if he swings his hind quarters left, take ahold of the left rein, and bend his head and neck around to the left.  Leave the other rein loose enough that he can bend his neck around to the left, but not hanging down so far he can move forward.

    Ask the person who owns the horse (or manages the lesson program, if it's a lesson horse) how that horse is trained, and what the best way is to make him stand still, as all horses are trained differently and react differently, and the owner or manager may have a way he or she prefers this correction is made, or he or she may want to fix this problem himself or with his trainer/rider.

    Usually, it is a very, very simple matter.  Many people get on leaving the reins very loose and simply not being quick about correcting moving around, so the horse gets smart about it. Especially if you keep moving the mounting block to where the horse moves, he starts to think of it as a game.  Bring him to the mounting block, and don't move it. 

    Then you simply hold your right rein a little shorter to stop the foreward motion, and tap the horse's hind quarters with a whip if he backs up or swings his hips away, you can reach over his back and tap on his far side to get him to come back with his hips.  Being a little quicker about mounting can also help, if a horse is simply restless and wants to get moving. 

    Many horses are fussy and move about in the wash rack or want the rider to get up quickly and get going.  I do try giving them a good smack and telling them, 'NO!' and jerking on the lead shank to make them stand still, and most of the time the horse will get the idea and get one of those, 'Oh...why didn't you say so in the first place' looks.  When correcting a horse it's very, veyr important to 'read' the horse very, very carefully, correct only as hard as yiou need to and stop instantly when the horse stands still (otherwise how will he ever get the idea of what you want).

    A few horses will just keep going and keep testing you to see if you are serious, and you have to keep correcting them and let them know you really mean it - NOT by getting angrier and angrier and just jerking mindlessly at them, but by being very clear and specific what yiou want and correcting the same behavior the same way every time.  Remember getting angry or losing one's temper never solves any problem with any horse....but neither does it solve anything being too vague or inconsistent, or not being clear about what you want.

    It's wise to just keep things simple - a lot of 'new agey' methods just leave a horse totally confused about what you want to correct and what behavior you expect.  It's wise to not make things too 'theoretical' or too complicated.  Just use a simple method and stick to it.

    You can't really change a horse's basic nature, unless he's acting that way because he simply is getting too much grain and not enough work  - that can be changed. 

    I don't really believe in trying to fight with their basic nature, you can only fuss over what they're doing so much.  If they want me to hurry up and get on, I do.  And I have had horses that I tack up in the stall, and just forget the eons in the wash rack.  It just drives some horses nuts to stand there and wait and wait.  They stand there watching the rider thinking, "Oh Good Lord, let's get this show on the road, what is he doing now, I'm going to die before he gets done and gets me out of here".

    I heard a story about an old gal who was in a new town with a friend and went fox hunting and the stable there only had one pretty rough horse.  The gal's host was worried about giving her that horse.  The horse started to move immediately when she tried to get on.  She what we call 'cheeked' him, holding the cheek piece of the bridle with her left hand, so all he could do was spin around in a tiny circle.  While he was doing that she swung up and got on!  As the story goes the old gal turned out to be a pretty rough rider herself and stuck onto that ornery horse no matter what he tried, he tried to take her into the puckerbrush a few times and she turned him back, no hard feelings, lol.  The horse came back to the stable and licked her hand when they were done fox hunting, LOL!  "OK, I guess you figured me out, I'm not really such a bad guy, see?"

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