Ass**le for mounting - advice please

scruffyponies

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Normally quiet pony, but in winter he thinks he can graze as soon as untied, and resents rein being held to mount.

I have managed to date by allowing him to put his head down and eat as I get on (i.e. cheating), but if I don't he's downright dangerous; Rears, kicks out, spins. Really not funny at all. If someone tries to hold his head it's 10x worse. He really fights it.
Enough is enough, as he's already pulled my shoulder and I'm not quite nimble enough to mount a rearing horse, even if I had the patience, so something must be done.

He'll stand fine if someone is in front of him with a carrot or similar - even a hay net will do. My plan is to use this distraction to avoid the rearing and get him used to having a treat fed from on board as soon as I'm up, but right now I think his behaviour is at least partly petulence because he knows I have the treats, and he wants them NOW!
This can't be a fight, because he'll win. Can anyone improve on my crap plan?
 

paddy555

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I can't improve on your crap plan however I wouldn't give treats fed from on board. I could see him whipping round very quickly for them once you are partway up and both of you, or at least you, getting hurt.
I would use a mounting block and wouldn't get on until he stood still however long it took and train him that way.

However, I wonder if your reasoning behind the whole thing is wrong. You are putting it down to his resentment, naughtiness etc. I would be wondering if it was down to pain either real or perceived.
You can get on with his head on the ground eating, with someone in front with a carrot. Both times he is having to breath to eat. He is also distracted and his head and neck are relatively low

The other times he resists by rearing etc and if his head is held he is bad.

I came across exactly the same in someone's horse. We taught it to be mounted from impossible by letting it eat out of a bucket to relax the horse and keep it's head relatively low. This was the kindest horse, not being naughty and it's problems were human caused.
I would be looking to why your horse felt the need to be difficult. Saddle, pressure on front of saddle as you get on with head up. I the grass different, feeding different in winter. This time of the year is a very bad time for PSSM horses. They are much better in summer. Not suggesting yours is PSSM for one minute but is something similarly seasonal causing the problem.
What if you stand in a high mounting block and get on bareback
 

meleeka

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if you are certain it’s nothing physical I’d use treats. One when he’s standing nicely and you are about to mount and then another when you are on. You’ll have to be quite quick with them in the beginning, but gradually increase the time he has to wait once on board. I’d use the big nut type treat as they’ll take longer to chew.
 
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I think the best plan would be too find out exactly why he's acting like that.... It's quite extreme. Personally I'd assume something specific about his winter routine in terms of either the work done or how he's managed is causing pain/discomfort.
Your treat idea isn't necessarily a bad one, but until you've completely ruled out pain it's just masking the issue. Your horse isn't being naughty as such; he's trying to tell you something. Sorry if this isn't the answer you wanted and good luck 🙂
 

Alibear

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If physical is ruled out step one is to stand nicely near the mounting block, do this in hand without the saddle on but enough on his head so you have control. Don't fight him if he moves about etc just go away and represent next to the block and pat/make good fuss/ treat as soon as he stands nicely near it and move off before he gets a chance to act up. Gradually build up time near the block. You can be on his side away from the block to start as this makes straightness etc easier. When that's down pat, you can move to the block side, when that's good you can stand on the block, when that's good rub his back etc as you stand on the block, when that's good lean over and treat/reward on that side. When that's good then you start again but with the saddle on. It sounds like a lot but you end up with a rock-steady horse to mount.
You can also teach them to move their quarters towards you on cue in hand which also makes lining up easier. But at the moment I'd start with standing nicely next to the block.
 
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ycbm

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This behaviour, in a normally quiet pony, is going to be a pain response.
This. Something in his winter routine - feed, stabling, cold, time of day ... is triggering this and it will be probably be pain or fear or food.

(Mine went quite peculiar when I started their winter supply of haylage. I swapped them onto hay, they came back to normal, and I sent the rest of the haylage back. )

I can't believe otherwise if he stands to be mounted in summer but not in winter.
.
 

Leandy

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I really don't understand why you have this problem in winter and not any other time?? Mounting problems are not uncommon but it seems very odd it is only in winter and no problem at any other time! Is there anything else different about his winter behaviour? What is different about his winter management?
 

FinkleyAlex

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Mine didn’t like being mounted - nowhere near as extreme as yours but after several years of not getting anywhere with vet checks, back/saddle/teeth checks, we got him scanned and he turned out to have sacroiliac issues which were clearly causing him pain, but presented quite discretely.
 
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Do you clip him in winter, or does he have a thicker coat, does he lose weight/change shape? My Draft mare got very unwilling to stand to be mounted whenshe had lost so much weight that her saddle didn't fit properly. That was soon sorted by finding a saddle that fitted her better.
 

paddi22

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what is changing in his management in winter that triggers this? if it's cold coming in it could be arthritis somewhere that is causing pain when ridden.
 

Melody Grey

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Definitely something changed for winter- is he clipped? Is that somehow making tack fit differently? Girth pinching? Saddle sitting too low? Clipped under the saddle and hair regrowth causing irritation?
 

scruffyponies

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Absolutely not ruling out pain, but the only thing that has changed is the grass outside the field is currently much better than the stuff in it. He's a bit of a 'winter is coming' pony. He'll take any opportunity to eat whilst riding if you drop contact for an instant. He's still fat, so saddle fit hasn't changed (although it will by the end of the winter - I usually change saddle in the new year as his weight drops).

Management is identical, but there is less grass now. He isn't clipped, rugged, stabled or shod. Perhaps he is worried he might be being taken away from his friend (we often split the herd in winter), but that would imply a bit more reasoned thought than I'd expect.
We ride from the field with no arena or yard so he is always mounted near grass unless I get off in the middle of town for some reason, when he'll stand and wait for me like an old riding school nag.

My strongest indicator that this isn't pain is that he comes running to be ridden. He throws his head up, whinnies at me and canters across the field - this despite him NEVER receiving supplementary food. He's out at grass 365, and still comes running in summer, knowing all he is going to get is a 10 mile hack.

He's normally mounted from the ground (only 14hh), but the discipline of mounting block training sounds like a good idea.
 

cauda equina

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What's he like at standing still other than for mounting?
I did masses of 'parking practice' with one of mine who was a tricky loader, and it really helped with mounting too
We used clicker training
 

twiggy2

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Can you give him a scoop or 2 of straw chaff before attempting to get on? It may take the edge of his hunger if your are sure its not pain related.
Then I would insist on some manners, tack up, go to the block and wait when he stands still walk him away and give him a minute to stretch relax and think (not eat) a little wander maybe, then do it again and again and again, over a few sessions, when he reliably walks up to the block and waits then start to introduce the steps of getting on and do the same for each little step.
To make it easier if you feel he is hungry then you could bring him in to some soaked hay and let him fill his belly in a stable before starting the mounting block training. Do this just to make getting the foundations a bit easier.
Set him up to succeed but at the end of the day its basic manners nothing else thats if its definitely not pain.
 

scruffyponies

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I wouldn't be wanting him to associate any food with being tack up or mounted, if would leave him alone to eat and then when he has his belly a bit fuller start tacking up etc
He's fine to tack up, and usually this happens as soon as he is out of the field - a good 10 minutes before everyone else since I don't have to go get him. That gives him plenty of time to eat before mounting up.

He doesn't expect to eat whilst being tacked up, and stands perfectly mannerly for ages... until I slip the headcollar.
If I had not enough experience to know the consequences I might be tempted to mount whilst he's still tied to the bailer twine.
 

SusieT

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I would get a vet and saddle check. Coming running to be ridden is no indicator of lack of pain I'm afraid. I would also take it back to basics and 'retrain' the mounting once I was sure he wasn't unwell - and bear in mind e.g. ulcers could also be a factor if on restricted food intake- hard to know over a forum if thats the case.
 

Hormonal Filly

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He's normally mounted from the ground (only 14hh), but the discipline of mounting block training sounds like a good idea.
I was always taught to not mount from the ground no matter what size they were, it isn’t good for their backs long term.

I’d second training him to stand at a mounting block, make something out of wood. I spent about a hour with my gelding once many years ago. Every time he moved or got annoyed, he was re walked back and waited with the command ‘wait’.. he turned into a absolute diamond to mount and anyone could get on him.
 

Polos Mum

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With the youngsters I copied someone who breaks them by leaning over with single pony nut / grass nut in hand - so they get used to feeling you over their back and turn their heads around for the treat (positioned next to where your foot would be). Progress to popping leg over and same single nut when standing nicely.
When I copied what I've ended up with is a nice 5 y/o who leans into the mounting block as his head moved around to my off side foot and waits for all my faffying doing up girth and feet in stirrups until he earns his single grass nut !
 

MagicMelon

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Clicker training sorted mine super quickly. Mine got into a habit of stepping backwards as soon as I put my foot in the stirrup and generally would just mess about while I tried to get on, which was getting worse. I started clicker training at home. I would ask her to stand at the mounting block, just standing she would get a treat, then Id start getting onto the block, treating when she stood still, foot in stirrup, same, jumping up and down, same, then getting on and again when standing still treating. I took the same mounting block to events so nothing changes. She got the idea very quickly and stands like a rock now. Im still clicker training every single time I get on though (including at events which I think others think is weird, dont care!) until its really ingrained.

You could get someone else to stand by his head and do the clicking/treating, Im just always on my own at home ;)
 

Kaylum

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Have you tired getting on from the other side?

We make horses so onesided the pressure we put on the nearside really takes its toll on a horse.
 
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