Ask the Expert is all about listening to horse-related questions readers and helping them expand their learning with advice from our partners, professionals who share a like-mindedness with BestHorsePractices and its principles. Got a question? Contact us!
Our Ask the Expert query comes from Nina Fuller at Lily Brook Farm in Hollis, Maine. She writes:
My question: I have a horse that was given to me two years ago. She’s great except for a few things. She won’t stop moving sideways and backwards when I go to get on. If I was younger, I would just hop on. That’s what someone has been doing all her life. She is 18.
But now that I am not young, I want her to stand still so I can get on her when I am alone and no one is holding her. I have tried to put her against a rail or a fence, but she just wiggles away and avoids me as best she can.
We talked with Elijah Moore about it. Read more about Moore here.
Moore might be getting on in years (He’s a spry, 70-something.), but he’s a dedicated lifelong learner. He likes to audit other horsemen, like Martin Black and Joe Wolter, whenever they travel east. Read about that here.
When asked about Nina’s issue, he talked about working on a fence, like so many cowboys start horses. Watch this excellent video on working a fence with Bryan Neubert.
“You have to control those feet,” said Moore, who grew up in Utah and spent years starting horses there and in Arizona. “Take the back end away and bring the front end through. If he moves too much (when you’re mounting), move him around. Pretty soon, he understands that if he moves, he’s going to be a bit uncomfortable.”
Moore had the chance to attend the late Ray Hunt’s clinics back in the day (Hunt died in 2009.), but said he was too busy at the time. He’s been kicking himself ever since. “I missed out on the greatest opportunity,” said Moore. His advice to Nina echoed the natural horsemanship pioneer, who liked to say: “Make the right thing easy and the wrong thing hard.”
Coincidentally, Moore recently rode a horse who balked when he mounted. It mystified him, as the gelding had never done it before. He asked his wife, Dr. Cynthia Reynolds, a vet who practices chiropractic and acupuncture medicine, to take a look at him.
“Sure enough. We found that his back was sore,” recounted Moore. So, you also have to watch to make sure it’s not something physical.”