Won't stop circling!

This topic contains 4 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by 20SecondsOfInsaneCourage 20SecondsOfInsaneCourage 4 years, 9 months ago.

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  • Ribbon Original Poster
    Topics Started: 2Replies Posted: 2

    My lease horse Hooch will not stop circling around the mounting block. I know, seems silly, but I have tried everything and the kitchen sink to get him to relax and let me get on but he just starts spinning in circles and I’m afraid he’s going to hurt himself! Any suggestions for getting him to calm down and let me get on?

    What I’ve had the most success with is asking him to back up and stand still, then walking forwards to the mounting block, repeating until he stands quietly, but even then the least amount of times its taken for me to get on is about 7 (embarrassing I know). He’s a bit too tall for me to stick my foot in the stirrup, being a 16hh TB, but I might try that again the next time I ride just to be sure I’m not just wimping out.

    Any suggestions are welcome, I just need some help!

    Yes I do Dressage, no I am not afraid to jump.

    pheets pheets
    Topics Started: 5Replies Posted: 477

    If you haven’t tried this already, maybe spread his front feet at the block (gently rock his front end back and forth), so that he is balanced but can’t go forward as easily, and take up the outside rein a bit so that when/if he moves, he moves into you as opposed to away. Might want to look into a taller mounting block, too : ) Also, check saddle fit, bridle fit (includes bit, cavesson and dental eval) and consider the riding skills he is under most often. Horses have their reasons for everything they do. The joy, challenge and reward of horsemanship (for me) is figuring out what those reasons are. Good luck and be safe!!

    Sure there's right and wrong but mostly there's just a whole lotta different.

    Topics Started: 6Replies Posted: 29

    Is he enjoying his rides? That’s something you need to look for. I know my horse, when I first got him, he stayed pretty much completely still when I got on him (and this is a 16.1 hand horse, with no mounting block, in an english saddle, clobbering my way up on top of him) but a little while after I got him, he started moving when I tried to get on him. This, along with some other behavior problems he had started to develop, was a hint that he wasn’t enjoying his rides (turns out we were asking more than he could understand at the time). As pheets said, horses always have a reason for what they do, and a lot of the time, not letting you get on means he isn’t enjoying what you’re doing when you do get on him. So, check for that, try to keep arena work interesting, challenging, and different each time. Also, it could be that when you do get on him, you immediately ask him to move forward. Horses will begin to anticipate this, and start to move off before you even get on, because they’re anticipating that that’s what you’re going to ask them to do, so they just automatically do it. So when you get on, make sure you don’t immediately ask him to move, but ask him to stand still for a minute, then move off. As far as fixing the problem, (you may need to do this without the mounting block) gather your reins up, so they’re tight, but not pulling on his mouth. Act like you’re going to get on, and as soon as he starts to move, apply a light pressure on his mouth, not yanking him backwards, but just lightly asking him to give his mouth and take a step back. If he doesn’t respond, increase the pressure until he does. But the second he takes a step back and isn’t fighting you by pulling back on the bit, immediately release him, give him a pat, and do it again until he stands still for you to get on. If he moves off when you get on, immediately back him up a step or two.
    I’ve just started doing this with my horse, and granted he’s an unbelievably fast learner, but with doing this three times he’s already getting the point to stand still when I get on and I only have to ask him to back up once before he stands still, and he doesn’t move off when I get on anymore.

    GHFrider GHFrider
    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 32

    Oh, can I relate to this one! LOL My fave horse to ride also has this habit. I take credit for it as I really didn’t cement the “stand still” cue firmly enough when he was young (I’ve owned him since he was born and he’s 16 now). It got worse when he had an undiagnosed rib injury, and it was a bugger to undo. He’s much better now. What I’ve done is found the one routine that seems to keep him happy. Instead of coming at the block from the front by his shoulder as would be the usual approach, I drop the reins on his neck, come at the block from his hip, and rub his butt and scratch it while I’m getting ready to mount. Apparently that’s his sweet spot, because most times he will stand beautifully now (assuming his lady love isn’t in heat and yelling from the pasture, then it might take a circle or two).

    Now, this is just what worked for MY horse. I had already tried all of the other suggestions from trainers and fellow horse peeps, and I came upon this by accident. I’m sure it looks silly, but it works, and that’s my goal. You have to find your horse’s currency–what he’ll accept in trade for the behavior you’re trying to elicit, in this case standing still.

    It’s a lot easier to implant a habit than to remove it, and the primary reason for that is that intermittent reinforcement (disciplining him in a less than consistent way) makes the habit stronger. It’s like a child acting out to get his favorite treat. Reinforce it only once, and you’ve got a kid who will test over and over and over again to see if THIS is the time it’ll work. So whatever you try, it needs to be absolutely 100% consistent. There can’t be any “Well, he’s nervous today”. There has to be total focus on getting past this one issue.

    And keep in mind that you need to focus on the behavior you WANT in the simplest terms possible as opposed to the bazillion you DON’T want. Don’t make him guess by punishing errors. Only reinforce the correct behavior. Between errors are resets. Keep resetting until he gets exactly what you’re asking, and then your training efforts should fly. I love the clicker for this.

    Horses In the Yard

    20SecondsOfInsaneCourage 20SecondsOfInsaneCourage
    Topics Started: 1Replies Posted: 2

    My horse used to do this too. If he tends to turn a certine direction, hold the opposit rein taught to keep him from beng able to flex around the block. Also, if you ride in a group setting you might try having someone hold Hooch while you mount.

    There are so many people out there who will tell you that you can't. What you have to do is turn around and say, "Watch me."

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