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Developing a Stand Still

Developing a Stand Still

Developing the Stand Still

Many years ago it was shared with us that you could tell a good horseman/woman, not by the type of horses they had, the clothes they wore or the competitions they had won - but by the good habits they maintained. When they knew better, they did better. Good habits that didn’t fall by the wayside to complacency, laziness or trying to save time. Good habits that showed discipline in the handler/rider, showed maintenance of awareness and safety, respect for the horse, and caused horses to develop positive patterns & become more consistent and dependable themselves.

Positive patterns start with the handler and ‘transfer’ to the horse.  One of these habits is helping a horse to understand about standing still, in an imaginary rectangle, while the handler can move around.

This is a fundamental skill that requires the handler to have good rope handling skills, awareness of the horse’s movement and attention, and the ability to manoeuvre the horse back to its ‘rectangle’ if needed. The horse learns to have patience and to be mentally, physically and emotionally stationary.  We class this as an essential skill for every horse. It’s very handy to have a horse understand to stand still when there’s nowhere to tie up.

There are many good habits to have around horses, some of these that are important to us are to be able to groom, rug and saddle a stationary horse compared to one dancing around on the end of a lead rope.

Standing still for grooming untied by Sally Brett, Everyday Horsemanship

Standing still for saddling untied by Sally Brett, Everyday Horsemanship

We want our horse to stand still for mounting without being held. Having a horse understand to stand still at the mounting block un-held is, for us, a safety requirement and shows our horse is acting like a partner.

Once mounted whether it be from the ground or a mounting block, it is advisable to wait at least 10 seconds before asking the horse to move. Use this time to sit quietly and rub on him, so he can relax and wait for instruction. Try not to ‘hold’ him still with the reins, but have them short enough to stop him if he were to start moving. If he was to move off before being asked to then lift the rein to stop him and then start your ‘10 second timer’ again.

We do this for several reasons:

a. Safety - you don’t want your horse moving off as you mount as you can be easily unbalanced while mounting/dismounting because the horse is in a vulnerable position.

b. Acting like a partner - standing still when asked shows you that your horse is acting like a partner and understands their responsibilities. It also shows they are managing their impulsion. This is the frame of mind you want your horse in before you start your ride.

c. Independence - you don’t need someone around to hold your horse still for you while you mount.

d. Helps to train ‘patience’ in the rider & the horse - you wouldn’t just expect a horse to automatically stand still to be mounted, you need to take time to train this pattern.

Standing still for mounting & practising both sides by Sally Brett, Everyday Horsemanship

We also like our horse to understand how to line up to the block.

Lining up to the mounting block by Sally Brett, Everyday Horsemanship

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