QUESTION 1My gelding has a habit of moving off when I am trying to mount him. I don't have any problems with him when I tell him to stand when he is not being worked. I have tried several exercises with him on a continuous basis, but he is very strong willed and acts as if he is scared out of his wits when he sees a whip or lounge line or any type of reprimanding. He actually freaks. I can not clip him because he freaks out at the sound of the clippers.
When retraining a horse with this problem, have someone at his head as a safety line, so to speak. Leave his halter on under his bridle and just clip a lead shank to it (halter). Every little segment of the mounting process must be adhered to and by that I mean the following: (If you miss a step and get ahead of yourself, you have defeated yourself before you begin.)
Have him stand quietly and time it with a watch. If you can get 30 seconds without him moving a foot - good. Walk him a little and repeat. Do this until you get a consistent 30 second standing rate. Every attempt him makes to move from this position during the 30 second timeframe, have your assistant tug on the lead shank and say "whoa". Once this rule is established move to the next step. *Do not revert to a whip to reinforce this.
The next step is to take up your reins – not too tight so that it causes him to back off, but at least enough line so that there is very minimal contact. If he attempts to take a step forward, relax the reins, and again have your assistant tug on the shank repeating "Whoa". Again, do this until it is consistent that he stands when you take up the reins.
Next you will want him to stand there until his 30 second timeframe is up, then relax the reins, walk him around and praise him. Try it again and again until he does it to the point of being bored. (You can eventually increase your standing rate time as we do when we are teaching patience to driving horses.)
Next step, again with your assistant at hand, place a foot in the stirrup. If he moves, take your foot out, and tug on the line – "Whoa". Keep doing this same procedure as above.
Once that is accomplished, raise yourself up and stand there in the stirrup for a few seconds. If he moves, start all over again.
Once you are in the saddle, be certain that you are not shifting your weight and gripping in anyway that he takes it as a signal to move ahead. If he takes a step, have the assistant tug the line – again saying "Whoa" – dismount and start over.
When you are past all of this and you have finished your ride, dismount and remount. I do this with all my training horses, just to reinforce the stand still principle.
If your horse becomes nervous during any of the above process – go back a step or two to something he is comfortable with. Don’t misinterpret bull headedness with fear. He may very well be head strong, but I find that a lot of people aren’t reading the horse right.
The clipper problem might be even more difficult to overcome, but again – start with a little – back off – and try again.
I hope this helps. I know it sounds boring and repetitive, but that is how a horse learns. In the end, you will be glad that you took the time.