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So here’s the backstory – will try to be brief (skip to the bottom for the punchline):*note* i guess it wasn’t possible to really make it very short…sorry…. The horse is a ‘determined challenger’ to be sure….clever boy too. He started to not stand for mounting and I’m as sure as a person can be that he’s not in pain (saddle fits perfectly, always do correct work, stretching, massage, no sore pressure points, etc)… he seems to be just exercising his desire to be the leader…there have been other indications as well as the mounting problem. So in comes the bondering. I arrived at the barn one morning last week, exhausted and not wanting to deal with the mounting issue. I had been studying the method and mentally preparing myself to tackle this growing lack of respect. So I grabbed my crop (for protection and motivation because I knew he would defy me by not moving off if asked, and I was worried he would try to attack me) and went out to his paddock.
Okay… Anytime you are concerned a horse may try to attack you you need to increase the “size” of your being to hopefully give it second thoughts. A crop doesn’t increase your size much. With a crop you can basically do nothing before the horse reaches you. By then the horse will have so much speed built up you’ll only be able to get one lick in and then horse won’t have time enough to stop if it wanted to. I always use a longe whip. Never used to, never had a need for anything. I used to rely solely on my mental energy and taught others to do the same thing. And then came a very close call with a BLM horse at a Wisconsin clinic. Since then I have taught having a longe whip and using it as an extension of one’s being. Since I teach others to use a longe whip, I set the example and use it myself, always, so if anyone is watching my videos they can see first hand how I do it.
With a longe whip I increase the size of the reach of my being from roughly 2 feet to nearly 12 feet. With a longe whip I increase the size of the area I can control from 4 feet to 24 feet.
With a longe whip I can start my counter attack complete with indignant demanding yells while the horse is 12 feet away. Some gurus recommend a rope. A rope poses the same problem as a crop, you only get to use it once. While you are reeling it in for a second toss the horse is coming in faster than you can reel. And the rope only has the power and range of your arm’s ability to deliver it. With a longe whip I can send it out, bring it back and send it out again several times as the horse is coming in. If I have the presence of mind to move around to the horse’s side as he attacks I can keep delivering it for as long as he decides to continue the attack.
The stable does not have a round pen, so on a whim i decided to just see what i could do in his paddock. As it turned out, the deepish snow and the fact that i centred myself on his hay actually kept him at a reasonable distance. He was a sight to behold! Beautiful black horse in utter disbelief that i was claiming his space – i have never in my life heard a horse make snorting sounds like he did. He pranced around looking very impressive and even demonstrated some beautiful passage! He galloped straight at me once but stopped when i held up my crop and said “whoa”…not sure what he might have done otherwise. So after about half an hour he lowered his head and started with the licking and chewing so i invited him for a pet and then backed off to let him at the hay. Next morning, it occurred to me that since i started this it would be pretty silly to not continue if he gave me any trouble, so I half-consciously planned to re-bonder should he step away from the mounting block. Well he did, and so I sent him off and started the work (my dressage whip in one hand and lunge whip in the other…again, for emotional and physical support). This was in the indoor arena now and I managed to keep him to one short side for the most part, turning him back and forth across it, mostly at a brisk trot. The stress of the situation helped me to find my loud voice too
The only time one uses their “loud voice,” if they use their voice at all, is when the horse is making aggressive movements toward them. Otherwise a quiet, calm, “Do this,” is all it takes. When I’m working a horse and there is no one else around I don’t say anything to the horse yet we’re engaged in constant communication with each other. But that’s another story. If you want to talk to your horse a quiet, confident voice works best.
The whole goal of horse training is calmness. Calmness is relaxing. Nervous, strident, loud voices signal, "SOMETHING IS NOT RIGHT!! GET READY! PROTECT YOURSELF!"
I never tell the horse to do something I cannot make it do when I’m connecting with it and establishing a leadership position. Since I know I can make the horse do what I want it to do, the horse picks up on it as well and gives me what my mind wants.
You’ll see it when you believe it.
Twice in the last ~10 minutes he gave me the ‘signs’ and so i invited him to follow me then led him to the mounting block….when he stepped away i sent him back out for a few more rounds. It took 40 minutes in all and we were both exhausted and sweating. On the third attempt he stood still for mounting and I sat on his back for a good 2 or 3 minutes with him not moving a muscle before i asked him to move off (then i just walked a couple of big circles and got off). I left feeling really pleased with myself, surprisingly empowered, and looking forward to future goodness with the horse! Next morning, same thing, another 40 minutes!! I wish you could have seen it Marv! geesh. okay, at this point i’m still pretty happy that things are going to get better – he’s stubborn after all, fine. Then Sat/Sun/Mon sick kids and hubby out of town so a poorly-timed, unplanned break. This morning I went to see him and thought I would try just lunging him normally (something I haven’t been able to do since the defiance set in) but his body language became rather threatening so I abandoned the idea, took the lunge line off, and started again with the bondering, or “free lunging”. He was noticeably calmer this time and so I allowed him to trot and canter large around the arena, still directing him. He seemed much more relaxed and willing and was responding well to voice commands to change gaits etc. So after a good while i brought him to the mounting block…
Getting exhausted and sweating is not calming. There are no hills you have to die on in horse training no matter what anyone says. It is better to chunk down into small pieces. In the event the chunks are eluding you, take a break. Go get a cup of coffee, wait awhile – hour, few hours, next day, couple days – and go back at it again from the beginning. The purpose is not to accomplish the task. The purpose is to learn things that will allow you accomplish the task. You learn what works and what doesn’t. You polish the what works and you either correct or throw out what doesn’t work.
You said, “Start again with the bondering.” The “bonder” is simply the procedure to set up the leadership connection. Once established it must be maintained. The way this is done is to simply start doing what you want to do. You do not wait to see what comes up. One sets it up from the get go. If the horse does not cooperate one immediately says by one’s actions, “Oh? I thought we had an agreement. Apparently you have changed your mind. Let me refresh it. Go this way…"
here comes the punchline… …can you guess what i’m going to say?….the idea slowly started to take shape in my brain…uh-oh…i’ve not considered something here…i’m in danger of training my horse to…. BOLT as soon as he steps away from the mounting block! If only the thought had surfaced a minute sooner I could have salvaged the situation, but it was too late. Off like a rocket, because of course he was anticipating that if he moved I would chase him away.
Problem here is you are not controlling the horse. You are allowing him to bolt rather than stopping or controlling the bolt. Where is he going to go in the enclosure unless you let him go there?
He “bolts” to the edge of the enclosure. You let him go and the second you get an idea which direction he’s going to go you head him off and stop him (control). Keep him there for a few moments or as long as you choose (control). Tell him to go in a direction (control). If he goes faster than you would like stop him by changing his direction (control). Work to keep control no matter where he is or what he is doing.
You don’t ask, you tell. You don’t invite, you allow. That is what herd leaders do.
So now I actually have a much worse and much more dangerous situation than i had before and i feel like a total idiot for not having seen it coming. it’s downright depressing.
You have focused on the wrong thing. It’s only worse because it isn’t working out the way you had hoped. You don't have a much worse or more dangerous situation than you had before. You're just looking at it through the "failure" microscope.
I need all your ideas on how to proceed to fix this! Please and thank you!! I should add that I’ve tried a bunch of different ways over the past weeks to solve this (such as calmly repositioning him each time and waiting patiently for him to be still, the one-rein head cranked to the side method (he learned to back up at high speed) etc, etc)…for the most part they all worked, for a few days until he figured out a way around it! He hasn’t “won” any of these mounting episodes in the sense that I’ve managed to outlast him and get on his back each time…so I’m not sure why I’m still having the problem I normally have a “no treat” policy with this guy because he quickly gets pushy/aggressive/nippy. I’m wondering if this situation should be the exception – I wonder if it’s the only way to get out of this predicament? thanks in advance everyone…i think i will go to sleep and hope for something magical tomorrow!!
Think about it. Treats reward behaviors. Good behaviors and bad. You figured that out on your own. There is no such thing as magic, That’s an illusion.
You are thinking in terms of “winning.” There aren’t any battles. Don’t try to outlast him. He just gets stronger. Go around the problem and figure out how to do it different.
A crucial part of the one-rein stop is the control of the hind quarters. You don't have control of his hindquarters, he does, and he's moving them backwards in a straight line. Teach him to yield his hip the moment you cue him to do that. The one rein stop is flexing AND moving the hip.
It also sounds to me as though you are having a saddle problem of some sort. Whenever anyone mentions the mounting difficulties you do it's the first thing I eliminate. You might want to bring in a knowledgeable saddle fitter to check it out. To eliminate a vested interest in the result, if at all possible don't bring in one who happens to sell saddles.