Training Your Horse to Stand Still When Mounting

Training Your Horse to Stand Still When Mounting

How do you stop a horse from walking off when mounting? Learn why your horse moves when you get on and how to teach a horse to stand still.

a young woman sits on a horse in a western saddle after mounting (Credit: AQHA)

text size

From “AQHA’s Fundamentals of Horsemanship”

A horse should stand still as a statue as a rider mounts, waiting patiently until his rider is ready to ride off. If you’ve ever been frustrated when you swing your leg over your horse’s side and he starts to walk off, read on for instructions to train your horse to stand still while you mount.

Objectives

  • To get into the saddle on your horse without him moving or becoming disturbed.

  • To have your horse “await further instructions,” once you have mounted.

  • To ensure the mental, emotional and physical connection between you and your horse is not disrupted when you get on his back.

Training a Horse to Stand Still: What Does My Horse Need to Know?

It is most important that once you are in the saddle, the first thing you should do is nothing. The horse will soon associate being mounted with the minute of rest and comfort that follows. He will almost look forward to you getting on.

If you put the horse to work immediately, two problems will arise:

  1. He will associate being mounted with the discomfort of work.

  2. He will anticipate moving off and will not be still while you mount.

Patience is a virtue, for both man and horse. Take care when swinging your leg over not to kick or frighten your horse. Maintain a slight lateral flexion until you are safely in position with a foot in each stirrup. Release the reins and allow the horse either to be still or to move. If he chooses to move, take one rein and lift it to stop his movement.

If this is not effective, take a lateral flexion and hold it until the horse is still. Release again and allow the horse to move if he must. He will soon decide that it is easier and more comfortable to be still and await further instructions.

To Succeed at Training a Horse to Stand Still

You must allow your horse to stand still prior to making any adjustments to your position or the saddle.

Once your horse has become accustomed to the idea of not moving immediately, you can stand in your stirrups, adjust your position and test that your horse has really resolved to stand still.

You must learn to read your horse’s body language. If his hind legs are apart, he may be ready to move quickly. It is much better to have the forelegs apart and the hind legs close together.

Errors to Avoid When Teaching a Horse to Stand Still

  • Do not cause your horse to associate being mounted with discomfort.

  • Do not get on if your horse’s hind legs are spread, or if he is tense or engaged. Be sure he is calm and not ready to explode.

  • Do not sit heavily on your horse’s back. He won’t appreciate your presence.

  • Do not apply any leg pressure or do anything to provoke movement, once you are in the saddle.

How Will This Horse Training Help Me?

  • When you get on your horse, he relaxes and associates being mounted with a moment of rest and comfort, instead of anticipating movement.

  • Your horse will not walk away until you say so. You will leave together.