Best Horse-Week 6: Stands Still While I’m…

Soakin' Goin' On

Soakin’ Goin’ On

Taking pictures, talking to friends, letting others pass on the trail, getting a drink of water while riding, well, you get the picture; my horse doesn’t always want to stand still when I do.  And, if he does want to stand still it’s so he can eat the grass or the bushes or the trees!

The YouTube video below was made by Ian Leighton.  He has a good method of teaching ground tying I haven’t seen before.  I’m practicing on Nickel in the pic to the left.  It helped that he’d had a pretty good workout that he brought on himself!

This standing still business is going to be hard to work on alone because there is a lot less motivation for my horse to move around when there are no other horses around.  The key to this all I am learning is to be so diligent about correcting back to the starting point every time he makes the mistake of moving without permission. I’m really seeing results from moving the hip around the front instead of just having him go forward and around like he wants to.  That hip moving takes alot more concentration and energy than just going forward, plus it makes moving the hip better for future manuvers.

Sometimes horses that have good manners under saddle lack those same good habits on the ground.  One thing they should absolutely be doing is paying attention to what you want them to do and not everything else within a mile.  Bump the lead rope to bring their attention back to you.  Julie Goodnight suggests that their head should remain in a forward position and the only foot action going on might be shooing flys away.  The thing is, you have to be absolutely consistent with your demand for attention on you.  It’s not fair to the horse to be lax in enforcing your rule.  The smart ones especially will cheat in a heartbeat.  This rule of respect will carry over to all other areas of training.

I had to work on the standing still for saddling again last night.  He had been doing very good at it, but time off from being ridden cleared his que I guess!

Problem:  Won’t Stand Still After a Stop:  You stop your horse, and he immediately wants to walk forward (or fidget), rather than stand still.

Why it Happens:  If you’re like 98 percent of riders, you ask your horse to stop, then immediately give him a pat and let him walk off, as a reward.  Guess what?  You’ve inadvertently trained him that a stop isn’t truly a stop (meaning a total cessation of forward motion), but rather a slight pause.

Regardless of whether you’re on pattern in the show ring or trying to stop on the trail, your horse needs to learn that stop means “stop!” until you say otherwise.  Not only will this prevent points off when you show, but it’s also a matter of everyday safety.  If your horse comes to believe that standing still after a stop is optional, it’ll make even such basics as mounting and dismounting unsafe.

The fix:  Never walk forward out of a stop (unless it’s called for on pattern in the show pen).  After I stop a horse, I’ll drape the reins and see what happens.  If he takes a step forward, I’ll instantly stop him and back him up 10 steps.

I’ll repeat that back-up fix every time the horse tries to step forward, until he learns that he’s not allowed to go forward unless I say so.  To maintain that message without confusing him, I never walk forward after a stop.  Instead, I’ll turn him around five times before walking off.  Or do a 180-degree turn before walking off in the opposite directions.  That way he’s not walking out of the stop, but rather out of a turn or other maneuver.  And, he’s only doing so after I cue him.

Horse and Rider, July 2014

Bob Avila

My pet peave is a horse moving off when you get ready to mount.  I always mount from some object so this article from Western Horseman, September, 2014 issue, Mounting From the Fence by Marty Marten, describes getting that help you need from your horse when mounting.

Click on this link to read the article:  Mounting From the Fence 

Nickel needs to be ridden alot!  He is so smart and energetic.  I wish Colby had been able to train him as the roping horse he was bred to be because I think Nickel would have excelled and enjoyed it.  He is just so stinkin’ onery!

Horses learn from the relief of pressure, not the pressure itself. Pressure does not mean force it should be just enough for the horse to try and find an answer. The really fantastic thing about this is that if we precede the pressure with a cue and if our timing and feel is good in a very short time he will work off the cue alone. When he is working properly off the cue alone he does not have to experience the pressure.

Ian Leighton

Check Ian’s video out!

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