Who’s in Charge Anyway?

“Who’s in Charge Anyway?”
Julie Goodnight, Master Instructor and Clinician, Poncha Springs, CO

Many people mount up on their horse and no sooner is their seat in the saddle and their foot in the stirrup than the horse just walks off, with no cue from the rider. In short order, the horse, which is by now used to making decisions unauthorized by you, is walking off before you sit down and then when you put the foot in the stirrup to mount. We tend to want to blame the horse at this point: my horse won’t stand still for mounting, when we have effectively trained the horse over time to not stand still for mounting by condoning his unauthorized decisions. A horse should stand perfectly still when you mount, as you adjust the saddle and get settled and should wait for you to actually cue him to walk before he goes any where. Allowing a horse to walk off at any time without a specific cue to walk, is teaching the horse that he can do what he wants, when he wants. When I am teaching a group lesson, I like to explain to the riders that your horse may try to walk off when the horse in front of him walks, but to make him stand until he is patiently awaiting y our signal. This is a great exercise for both the horse and rider. If you ride your horse with awareness and control, he will learn that he has to wait for a directive from you in all things and at all times.