When we first got both horses, they each had little quirks that really needed to be trained out. None were serious, but were bothersome and really annoying.

Right after buying Barbie Doll, we realized that we did not own a mounting block. We ride Barbie bareback most of the time, so we did not have the handy stirrups to use to get on. Leg-ups are easy, but as soon as the first person took hold of the other’s leg to give them a boost, Barbie took that as a cue to move. At first we had no idea what to do, so we tried having someone stand by her head, holding on to the lead rope. But that did not work, because then she just side-stepped. We had no idea where to begin in training. I researched several methods.

The first thing we tried was lunging her in a circle until she stopped in front of the place we were standing, but because we had so many people involved, this really was a dumb idea.

As soon as possible we bought a mounting block. This was probably the most helpful item I have ever bought (besides the horses), even though it cost more than I wanted to spend.

This was great, because then she had a certain spot where she knew she had to stop. We tried several different things, including hardly disciplining her at all, yielding her hindquarters, and leading her in a circle and coming back to the mounting block. In particular, leading her around the mounting block was a terrible idea, because that was like a release. Horses learn from the release of pressure, not the actual pressure itself. By walking away from the mounting block, we really weren’t teaching her anything.

Michaela Coy Horse Training

I researched a little more and found an idea that sounded logical. By making the horse back up fast, they will figure out that by standing still they don’t have to move, and in the long run were making themselves work. After trying this several times, it seemed to work. Horses learn from making the right thing easy, and the wrong thing difficult. Every time she would start to move, we make this “chchch” sound, and make her back up really fast. Horses also don’t like backing up really fast; it isn’t in their nature. In the wild, horses don’t even really back up at all, let alone fast.

All horses are different. Chocolate Bar sometimes does the same thing, but this method does not work with her. She is very slow, so getting her to back up fast is like asking a sloth to run in a marathon. So with Chocolate Bar, a smack will do just fine. Both horses know how to stand still, they just choose not to in order to get out of work.

Barbie stands very still and rarely ever moves now, while Chocolate is always a work in progress.