Q: My horse walks off when I try to mount from the mounting block. How can I teach him to stand still?
The first step is getting your horse to stand still while not near a mounting block. Ask him to stand, take a step back, and then reward with lots of praise and pats if he stands still. If he walks toward you, correct with a firm “no” and guide him back into position.
Once he has mastered standing still away from a mounting block, introduce it back into the picture. Using the same tools from your ground work, ask your horse to stand next to the mounting block.
Let him stand there for a few seconds, praise, and lead him away. Repeat and climb one step of the block. If he stands still, praise him, get down and lead him away. Continue until you can put your foot in the stirrup, but don’t mount yet.
Once he understands this isn’t the time to get excited and take off with a rider aboard, he’ll be more likely to just stand still and relax at the block. Feed him a treat for standing with no prancing around! If he tries to swing his hindquarters away from the block, move them back into place, stand still, then lead him away again.
When you can reliably put your foot in the stirrup without him anticipating walking off, it’s time to mount. He must remain still after your seat is in the saddle. If he tries to walk off, halt and back up a step or two. The key is to anticipate standing still, not walking off.
Once he does it correctly, praise him with your voice and a pat. When he is reliably standing after you sit down, make him wait for a squeeze from your calves to walk off—not picking up the reins or any other cue.
This may take multiple sessions, perhaps even weeks to accomplish. That’s OK! Your safety depends on it. Now you can enjoy your ride!
This article originally appeared in the July/August 2017 issue of Young Rider magazine. Click here to subscribe!