Just a quick update about Laramie, a Tennessee Walker gelding in for training to be a quiet trail/pleasure horse.
This horse has really amazed me with how polite and what a quick learner he is. He is so very patient and will stand very quietly for grooming, tacking up, or just while I am chatting to someone.
Where Laramie needs the most work is with mounting. He has a lot of anxiety over mounting.
Today I took him out, tacked up, and started with ground games. He is a beginner with most of the games but picks them up quickly and is learning fast. His wiggle to back up is a little sluggish, but he is figuring it all out. For the most part he is very sensitive to cues and moves very easily.
For mounting he did a lot of dancing around, but I am very calm and consistent in my approach. The trick is to reward the horse when they stand still by retreating - not punishing them for standing still by trying to sneak on quickly as soon as the horse stands still.
Pretty soon Laramie figured out that the only way to get me to stop tapping the saddle/get my foot out of the stirrup/etc was to stand still - and then I reward him by relaxing and retreating (take my foot out of the stirrup, stop hopping, etc).
It took about 15 -20 min or so, but then I was able to pull myself up from both sides, a couple times without him taking a step. I sat on Laramie for a bit, relaxed, and then dismounted to end the session.
I want Laramie thinking that mounting is simple, easy, and nothing to be nervous about - there is no point doing any riding just yet.... better to build the relationship and get Laramie's trust first - I need to prove to Laramie that I am different than the rest of the trainers he has had before.... the easiest way to prove that to him is to show him I am more interested in calm communication then just going for a ride.