49393Re: [MarvWalkerHorses] Ready for someone on their back
- Aug 29, 2013Hi Jessie:You certainly covered a lot before getting on. Here is something I do with first rides that might help.A lot of horses, including a couple of mustangs I've known, were quite claustrophobic about things being on top of them, particularly if they felt they couldn't get away. Taking time for them to choose to be OK with you above them, when they can leave at any time without an adverse consequence, helps these horses.I can't tell from what you wrote, but if you had a line on your horse during all these exercises such that he felt he had to stay and tolerate them, sitting on his back might have been the one extra thing he couldn't tolerate. Having had that experience, I'd want that horse to truly own having you get up on its back before I hopped back on because once we've pushed a horse over the edge, we both know it can go there and that translates in tension and increases the likelihood that the horse will blow up again.When starting a colt, I teach it to "park please" which means come up parallel to me when I'm sitting on a fence and invite me onto its back. We start on the ground and on line, but end up calling the horse by name and having them come over at liberty to ask us onto their back - whether I'm standing on a mounting block, a fence, the truck bed, a rock or a stump or even standing on the ground and standing rock solid on a loose rein until I'm settled, have my feet in the stirrup and pick up the reins.
Landing Parallel to you - You stand at the fence or on the fence and send the horse to the right (or left) with one hand while focusing on their rear end. You let them go as far as they naturally do, without forcing it. Most horses will land facing you with their nose and their butt out at a 45 degree angle. Mostly, I think because horses feel safest with us at their head and more concerned with a predator being above their back. If they don't settle with their rear end parallel to the fence, you will pick up your lead line (or stick) and circle it toward the rear leg that needs to move until they take one step toward the fence - at the beginning, you may even have to gently tap the leg so it is easiest to start beginning lessons on the ground. It is never a "make" though, just a gentle suggestion to move that leg and when they start to shift their weight in the right direction, then you relax completely to reward the try. If necessary, you repeat until the horse is parallel parked to the fence, then dwell a bit being relaxed until your horse licks and chews. I continue going right and left with this part of the exercise until the horse understands that my "send" is asking for him to land parallel to me, not at a 45 degree angle and I don't need to raise my lead line or stick at all.
Feeling Safe with You Above Him - Then, you reverse your direction sitting on the fence so you are facing in the same direction as the horse. Its head will be close to you then and you should cuddle it and gently direct it to take one step forward at a time, rewarding each step forward with scratches and rubs. With a green colt, this takes time. The rein is loosely draped over the fence and the horse can leave any time it wants to. Indeed, if I feel the horse "lean" away from me, I'll pick up the lead line and resend him in the other direction, ask him to parallel park and come back to be rubbed again. Repeat this stage until the horse is in position for you to mount. I then start scratching the horse with my foot and leg while still standing on the fence and holding on to the fence with both hands. The rein remains loosely draped over the fence so the horse can leave if it wants to. Allowing the horse to leave actually makes it less likely that they will feel they have to leave. You are looking for relaxation and ownership by the horse here so taking the time it takes, takes less time.
You only mount the horse when it asks you to do so by standing freely and calmly on a loose rein when your leg comes over its back and the horse sort of looks at you with a "stop screwing around and please get on my back!" look. It is unmistakable. Once I get on, I always make a point of doing lots of nothing, just more scratches and rubs until my horse and I are both centered and relaxed. Then, I'll ask for lateral flexion on each side with feet not moving and for a first mounting, I'll hop off and repeat the exercise a few times. I want the horse to understand that my getting on has nothing to do with moving so I have to teach that first. If the horse is comfortable with parking at liberty, letting me on, standing quietly and giving me its head to left and right, then, we'll start our ride.
The cool thing about this approach is that the horse owns parallel parking. I can climb a fence, stump, side of my horse trailer, etc. call my horse and it will walk over to me and parallel park rock solid. So, yes, it takes a little longer to teach a horse to parallel park, but it is a once in a lifetime lesson and unless you break it by giving the horse a miserable experience when you ride him, you never have to worry about it again.
PS Odd thing. When given a choice most horses I teach this to will park with me on their right side, not their left side.
Relaxation - Your first job after mounting is to relax and breath deeply. Your tension communicates itself to the horse and it is your responsibility to maintain a calm, relaxed state for your horse. If the horse moves forward during this process, you will pick up the reins to stop her and back her up, then drop the reins and do more of nothing until you are both relaxed. Indeed, every time you or your horse become agitated, abort what you were doing and make sure you are relaxed and then help your horse get soft and relaxed before you go back to the exercise. Horses can't think when they are tense so trying to teach a horse in that frame of mind is pointless and won't work.
Best of luck.Jackie Decker
4264 Beagle Road
White City, Oregon 97503
www.mystic-ranch.comIn a message dated 8/29/2013 10:02:11 A.M. Pacific Daylight Time, psych_1@... writes:
What do you all ensure is done before you climb onto a horse's back for the first time?
I have a mustang that I have done tons of ground work with, stands well at the mounting block, handles me sticking my foot in the stirrup and standing up over his side, me leaning across his back, desensitized to various things, ground driven, worked through obstical courses, trailer loads, worn a saddle many times, lunges with the saddle, had weighted bags tossed acrossed his back (about 50 lbs), lunged with boat bumpers bouncing on his sides, etc. He handles this all well.
A while back I figured he was ready. Usually by the time I'm comfortable enough to swing my leg over - there are no problems. Well he had other ideas and he was fine until I sat all the way down and then exploded. Biggest bucking fit I've dealt with, ended up with a huge horn bruise across my stomach, and a bit leary to try since. Yes - nerves are probably my biggest obsticale to trying again.
So I just want to make sure I have not missed anything before I try again. Any thoughts or ideas are appreciated.
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