Being able to have your horse stand quietly as you mount seems as though it should be a given, an easy task in the process of riding, and whether your horse moves off as you first step onto the block, or as soon as your foot hits the stirrup, you fight to keep your balance and your patience and think “why won’t he just stand still?” The truth is horses move for many reasons, he may be anxious about being ridden, or he may just be anticipating the process and ready to move forward. The key to breaking this bad habit and teaching your horse to stand still is to vary your mounting “routine” so that he relaxes and just waits to see what you will do next instead of anticipating the approach the block, foot in the stirrup, swing the leg, and we’re off! routine.
The first step is to learn to stay in the same place and move your horse around you when he starts to walk off. If you use a mounting block, this means continue to stand on the block and make your horse move around it in a circle instead of getting off each time he moves to re approach or to try and reposition him by the block. Move him around by pulling forward with your left hand (assuming you mount from the left) and tapping him with your right hand or your foot. Wait for him to tire of the circling and stop, or ask him to stop by picking up the rein with your right hand as well and pulling back. If he stops in a position that is comfortable for you to get on, start to do so, if not move him around the circle again.
After your horse is stopped, start by putting your foot in the stirrup and taking it out again. Do this a few times, circling him around you each time he starts to back up or walk off, and after a few times of him standing still while you take your foot in and out of the stirrup, praise him and walk away from the mounting block.
Next, put your foot in the stirrup and the shift your weight onto the saddle, then stand right back on the block or the ground. After this, sit up in the saddle for a moment, then hop right off. Next time go back to only a foot in the stirrup, them take him for a walk and come back to the block. Then maybe get on, just let him stand for awhile as you pet and praise him, take a few steps, and get off again. The point is to keep your horse guessing, he does not know what you are going to do next, and because you are varying the routine so much he has no way to predict it. Do this a few times, and you will find that your horse stands much quieter for mounting. If you start to have problems again, always use the circling, and vary your routine. One more technique you can use is when your horse starts to walk off, quickly get off the block, get in front of your horse, and make him back up with rhythmic pressure with your hands, or with swinging the reins. The key is to positively reinforce when he is standing still, and ignore or correct the other behavior. After you understand this system, you will have the confidence to teach any horse how to stand still for mounting in only one session!