Q&A with Jim McDonald

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Q.   Jim my horse won’t stand still when I tack him up .  He dances around and no matter how much I correct him he doesn’t stand still.  How do I get him to stand still?


This is a common issue and one that is fairly easy to resolve.  The first thing Id want you to know (which you have already figured out) is that correcting the horse doesn’t work.  This is because when you “correct” your horse it is likely to make him want to move more not less because he doesn’t understand that he is supposed to stand still.

This is a relationship problem.  The problem is not with the tack, it is the fact that your horse is not convinced that when he is in your presence he can relax and feel safe.  So how do we resolve this predicament?

It starts with doing effective ground work. There are many such exercises but it pretty much boils down to asking the horse to move his feet and after he gives you what you want you relax and pet him, letting him know he did the right thing.

Then he needs to be desensitized to the tack. The process for desensitization is to approach the horse with say the saddle blanket or pad and before he moves his feet take the object away.  Each time you approach the horse with the pad take it away before he moves his feet. Now! When he moves his feet as you approach do not take the pad away from him until he stops moving his feet then immediately take the pad away.  Pretty soon he will realize that the pad (saddle or any other object) is not a threat and he can stand still and relaxed as these objects are placed on him.

Learn more about equine behavior and building better horse/human relationships at one of Jim’s nationwide clinics, horsemanship courses, or individualized training opportunities. Get details here.