Teaching Your Hourse To Stand Still While You Mount

  1. First, position the horse so that he is facing a fence-about one to two feet distance. It's very helpful if you can position him in the corner of a pasture or arena, with a fence in front of him and a section of fence on his right side to prevent him from stepping sideways. If he stands there quietly, give him a treat and praise him. If the horse moves backwards, hold him and feed him a treat until he stands quietly.

  2. If he stands quietly, simply mount without digging your toe in his side (using a mounting block if necessary), and then give him a treat, holding a light contact with the reins. Don't fall over his neck, as he will be inclined to take a step forward to balance himself. Then, allow the reins to hang somewhat loosely (no pressure on his mouth) for some moments while you sit still. If he continues to stand still, give him another treat and then move off at a walk. If he takes a step forward, stop him, hold the contact a moment or two, sit still, then gradually let the rein out a bit, being prepared to stop him immediately if he takes a step. If he doesn't, give him another treat. It doesn't take much time, if you are consistent, for the horse to learn that if he stands still, you will give him a treat, and he will WANT to stand still. If it takes longer for him to get the message, remember that you are TEACHING him, and continue to correct him calmly and reward him when he stands still when you ask him to. If he backs away from the fence in front of him as you try to mount, simply turn the horse around so that his hindquarters are against the fence, and proceed with mounting.
  3. If he doesn't stand quietly, simply for this day, try only to get him to stand calmly (from the ground) by rewarding him with treats and calm stroking for even a short period of standing still. Then move him away from the fence, rest a moment or two, and then put him in front of the fence again and repeat the treats and stroking, until he will stand quietly. Don't worry if it takes many attempts to get him to relax and stand still. He'll get bored and stand quietly eventually, unless you lose your temper and become aggressive with him. When he is reliable about standing still, stop for the day. Then the next day, repeat this phase, and if he stands quietly, then try to mount him, taking care not to dig your toe in his side, and holding the reins so that you can prevent him from walking off. Keep him facing the fence as you did yesterday, and use a mounting block if you have to struggle to mount. This will irritate him less than if you have difficulty and end up jerking him in the mouth by mistake or pulling his saddle half off as you get up. Be sure to pat him and perhaps offer him a treat after he stands for you to mount. Sit quietly without moving off for a minute or two, then move off. Return to the fence, dismount, and praise him again. Then re-mount, praising him and offering a treat when he stands for you. Take whatever time is necessary mounting IN FRONT OF THE FENCE-for several days, if you want-to make the habit a good one.

 When he stands quietly and waits for you to mount and then ask him to move off, it's time to try mounting in a different location. Make your life easy by using a mounting block, to help insure that he remains standing still. Be sure to praise him and offer treats for not moving. If he moves despite your best efforts, have a helper hold him while you carefully mount, then give him a treat. Then repeat the procedure of mounting in front of the fence for a few times before trying once again to mount without the aid of the fence. If you still aren't successful, try putting him in front of the fence, but a few steps away, and mount again. This will most likely be successful. If so, simply gradually increase the distance from the fence.

 What is important is to arrange your environment so that he is physically not able to walk forward (or, if necessary, back up) while you mount, and spend enough time rewarding him for standing still that he will reliably stand still as you move around him and gather the reins. It may take a repetition or two, or it may take a week or more, but if you are consistent, you will have a horse that stands still when you try to mount him