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Standing to Mount
By Beverly Whittington



A horse who does not stand still to be mounted is at best a nuisance and at times a danger to his rider. Many horses that once stood to be mounted “forget” that portion of their training. Some horses were never trained properly to stand for mounting, or perhaps you are just starting a youngster and wish to instill this good habit in them from the start!

One reason, I have seen over and over, that horses become a problem with standing still to be mounted is that the rider moves off immediately upon hitting the saddle. Before you even begin to train a horse to stand to be mounted, train yourself to SIT QUIETLY for a moment AFTER mounting. If you get into the habit of NOT requesting or allowing the horse to move off immediately, you can often nip the problem in the bud!

Basics
 

  • Make sure the saddle fits the horse properly.
  • Check saddle blanket or pad; ensure it is wrinkle free. 
  • Make sure the girth or cinch is not pinching the horse's skin, causing the horse pain.
  • Have the horse standing square, balancing evenly on all fours prior to mounting.
  • Check to make sure you are not pulling the saddle out of position while mounting.
  • LEARN to mount properly! 


Mounting Properly

You need a degree of strength and agility to mount a horse correctly. You must be able to rise straight up. The mount should be smooth without pulling the saddle off to one side. You have to swing your right leg over without bumping the horses hip, and land lightly in the seat of the saddle.

You prepare to mount with you left hand on the reins, left foot in the stirrup and right hand on the saddle horn or pommel. You should stand as close to the body of the horse as you can, and step straight up. When you mount a horse, the saddle twists on the horse's back, toward you. The saddle presses into the muscles on the rider's side and against the spine on the opposite side. The closer you stand to your horse, the less pressure you exert on the twisting saddle, creating less discomfort.

You must hold the reins in your left hand with the length even on both reins and just a bit longer than the length required to have contact with the horses mouth. It is important that there is a bit of slack in the reins, to prevent pulling on the horse's mouth, making it back up.  There needs to be enough length to allow the horse to use his head and neck re-balance himself.  The reins also need to be short enough to check any forward movement quickly and easily.

Start to mount facing the horse's nose, not his hip, and be sure that your toe is touching the girth, not the horse's side. Do not allow you toe to dig into the horse as you step into the stirrup.

It is important that you settle into the saddle, rather than land on it! I always tell people to imagine that it was THEIR back, how lightly would you like that weight to be added? 

Problems

If you have followed all the above, and your horse still refuses stand still to be mounted, try to find the cause of the problem, don't just treat the symptom.

The horse always moves off if you don't have pressure on the reins.
 

This is not just a mounting problem. In all likely hood this horse has not been properly taught to stand still in any situation. The only way you can overcome this is by teaching the horse to stand still on a loose rein. You need to work first from the ground, and then once the lesson is firmly established, while mounting and from the saddle. STAND means to stand without moving a single foot, with their head up.


A horse that used to stand still to mount is now fidgeting.
 

AFTER you check the tack and your mounting technique, you may want to consider the condition of the horse. A horse with back muscles that are not in shape, will have more discomfort or even pain from the shifting of the saddle in the mounting process. A different saddle, or additional or different padding, may help until his back muscles are strong again.


A horse that moves off as soon as your foot hits the stirrup.
 

The most common reason for this is that your toe is digging into the horse's side. You are in essence TELLING the horse to move off. 
Horse circles when trying to mount.
Usually this is caused by the rider holding one rein tighter than the other, or by the rider's toe digging into the horse's side behind the girth. Correct rein and make sure your toe is not poking him as you mount. If this does not work, try putting enough pressure on the right rein to cause the horse to slightly bend his neck that direction. This will make it harder for him to swing his hindquarters away. As you work through this problem, try to go back to the even pressure on the reins as soon as possible. Standing with his neck cocked to one side also causes the horses spine to change alignment, you do not want to increase the strain on your horses back any longer than necessary.
Horse backing when you attempt to mount.
Often caused by pressure on the reins or a rider who mounts extremely sloppy. When you gather your reins to mount, you should look at the bit. Your reins should not be causing the bit to move at all. To check; prior to attempting to mount gather the reins in your left hand, and shorten them until you see the bit move JUST SLIGHTLY, then lenghten them about 2 or 3 inches. A sloppy mount can cause the horse to move backward ( or forward ) to balance the rider' s weight.  You could also be PUSHING the horse backwards by excessive weight on the rear of the saddle in the mount.
We intend to get similar articles online for all the various gaits,
so feedback at this stage is very important! SEND FEEDBACK

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