Standing Lesson

Teach your horse to stand still

Teaching a horse to stand can be taught at any time in a horse's career. If possible, begin training lessons with standing still, accepting the whip, leading, and halting.

Halter your horse in a stiff rope halter (preferably with two knots over the nose creating pressure points) or use a good sturdy nylon or leather halter with large sturdy rings on each side and a lead line with a 30" shank (chain). The shank should be placed through the ring, from outside to inside (towards the horse's head), on the side of the halter closest to the side you're going to work on, then over the nose and across the halter's noseband, then through the ring on the other side, from the inside to the outside (away from the horse's head), then straight back and snapped to the ring between the nose and the ear. If the chain is lying directly on the nose above or below the noseband of the halter, it is not correctly placed. When correctly placed, the chain lies on top of the noseband of the halter.

Begin a lesson with standing and end a lesson with standing. Work for two or three days in a row, consistently. Follow this protocol and you will have this valuable skill taught to your horse in no time at all. It is especially helpful if you can get a group of people together and practice this together. When your horse will listen to you in a crowd of other horses, he will listen to you better on the rail and on the trail.

This lesson may sound counter-productive. I will be telling you to move your horse around to get him to stop. Think of it as reverse psychology, your horse wants nothing more than to be left alone and not be asked to work. You will be asking his feet to move, but looking for an opportunity to stop. You must be very observant of your horse's movements, as he will be of yours. Try to anticipate when he's going to stop moving his feet and stop making his feet move just before he stops them on his own accord.

Lead your horse to an area where you feel you can work with him safely.

Position yourself between his shoulder and his head, about 4 feet away, with a long whip in one hand and the lead line in the other. Never stand directly in front of him.

Allow slack in the line so as you are not pulling on your horse while he is standing still.

When he moves, take the slack out of the lead line by raising your hand and move the rear end around by swinging the whip around towards the hips (not hitting him with it). Remain calm BUT keep your guard up at the same time.

Raise the hand, that's holding the lead line, up in the air. Your horse is much less likely to run you over while your hand is up in the air, although, it's certainly a possibility not be denied, so always position yourself in a safe spot, not in front of the horse and not behind the shoulder.

If you feel he's coming into your space it's important you tell him, in no uncertain terms, this is not acceptable. Wave both hands up in the air and say, "GET BACK". If you can reach him with a 4 foot long whip, he's too close! If you can reach him, hit him with the whip anywhere but the forehead, ears, and eyes (hitting him on the nose is completely acceptable and very affective). Not recognizing the fact that he could run you over can get you into big trouble and lead to serious injury. Backing away from him will prove to him that he can push you around. It's a delicate balance that can only be learned with experience. If you are not comfortable moving your horse out of your space and you feel you are in danger, please seek professional help from an experienced trainer.

As soon as your horse steps back, release the pressure for just a second then begin again to ask for a halt by waving the whip towards the hips, asking the hips to move away from you (how much pressure you need to assert depends on how sensitive the horse is).

If he's looking away, pull and release gently on the lead line and keep his attention focused on you, make him look at you with both eyes, but don't position yourself directly in front of him.

If only one eye is looking at you, his other eye is looking for a way to escape.

Never pull constantly on the lead line, always give and take.

When he looks at you with both eyes, relax and take some pressure away, BUT leave your hand up in the air (your horse understands your body language so well a slight change in your presence will be noticed). Continue to ask the rear end to move until the feet stop moving. HINT: The front feet will stop moving first.

When he's looking at you AND his feet have stopped moving, take the pressure off and TAKE A STEP BACK. This is his reward, not a pet on the neck or kind words, which are fine rewards, but being left alone is the best reward you can give him. Leave him alone for as long as he's standing and he's looking at you.

If he turns his head away, gently pull and release on the lead line and ask that he keep both eyes on you.

After he will stand to the count of 10, give him some praise. Many horses have a spot on their foreheads, neck, or withers which they love to have scratched. Give him a good scratch, but don't let him get carried away in the moment i.e., don't let him push into you. Just give him a quick scratch and take a step back.

If his feet begin to move, begin the lesson over again.

Don't forget to breath. Sometimes we get so intense, worried, or scared; that we forget to breath. Your horse will notice this and it may concern him (some horses are more sensitive to this than others). Remember, horses are heard animals and will react unpredictably when they feel another horse or person around them is nervous or tense.

Spend a few minutes on this, then do something else, then do this once more before putting your horse away. Once he's comfortable in one spot, practice in a new location.