Horse Backs When Mounting

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Horse Backs When Mounting

    2006 Cherry Hill

Dear Cherry:

     I have recently bought a 3 year old colt. I am having trouble with him backing up when I am trying to get on him. What can I do to keep this from becoming a big problem. he is gentle and fine once you get on him. What do you suggest?  T

Hi T:

     This is somewhat common, so don't feel like the "Lone Ranger" but we'll get it fixed.

     First, I suggest you do a review of your ground training so that your horse knows that he can stand still while you are at his side, at his hindquarters and behind him. I usually conduct this type of lesson in a round pen or arena because the horse is either on a long lead rope (15 foot) or you have ground tied him and told him "whoa" as you leave his side. A lot of horses back up when you mount because they want to see you and have their head next to you for security and familiarity. So the thorough ground training will make him be confident that it is OK for you to be in different positions around his body. The goal is for him to stand absolutely still while you move around him. You can do this unsaddled first, then saddled.

     After you've done this, then review your "whoa" command in-hand (while you are leading) and while you are longeing. In other words, you want to make a very strong association with your horse that when he hears "whoa", he plants his feet and stays put. So review leading lessons like walk-whoa; trot-whoa; but don't do any whoa-back lessons right now.

     On the longe line or free longeing, also review his transitions to halt and make him stand along the rail for progressively longer periods of time so he knows that when he is told to "whoa" he should stand there until asked to do something else.

     Finally, after you have reviewed all this, be sure when you are mounting that you don't have too much contact on the bit when you mount because you could be accidentally signaling him to back up as you swing up.

     I have often suggested that when a horse is young, if they have this tendency to back, that you get a friend to hold the horse a time or two just to help make the point clear.

     But if you do all of the homework I have outlined, I'd be very surprised if your young horse doesn't learn that he should stand still until you ask him to walk off.

     Oh, and by the way, once you do get up in the saddle, always sit there for 10 seconds or so before you ask him to walk off. This will prevent him from anticipating and starting to walk off before you even ask him.

     I hope this helps. Let me know how you make out. And be sure to visit my website at where I post lots of articles, book excerpts and FAQs about horse training and care. You can also sign up for my free monthly e-mail newsletter there.

     Best of luck,

                      Cherry Hill

  2004 Cherry Hill



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