Question: My horse won’t stand still. Can trick training help with that?
I like to train all my horses to stand on a particular spot – for example a small mat on the ground. This gets them ready for lots of other tricks such as standing on a pedestal and gets them used to things under their feet.
They also seem to understand the idea of standing still better if you ask them to stand ON something.
Start by teaching your horse to stand still with their front feet on a very small mat. You could use a door mat. Or I use a large heavy duty vinyl sheet that I fold up into a small square. I can then unfold it step by step and eventually teach my horse to stand on the mat with all four feet. This gets them ready for pedestal work.
Make sure your horse has thoroughly inspected the mat before you ask them to stand on it.
Let them have a good look at it and sniff it. They may even want to paw it. In the beginning just let them get used to the mat. Then ask them to step on it. You may only get one foot on it but as soon as they touch it with their hoof, give them the Marker and then a reward. Keep practicing until they are happy to leave their foot on the mat. Then ask them to put two feet on the mat. This may take a day or several days. Only practice for a maximum of 10 minutes per session.
Once your horse is comfortable putting both feet on the mat, ask them to stand on the mat for longer and longer periods. Start by asking them to stand still for just a few seconds (or even one second if your horse is a real fidget). Gradually increase the time you ask them to stand on the mat.
When your horse is happy to stand on the mat for at least 10 seconds start moving away from them a little bit (just one step back). Then over several training sessions try to step further and further away.
Eventually you should be able to ask your horse to “Wait” on a mat and you will be able to walk all around them.
Here’s a video of Trigger standing on his mat: http://youtu.be/GszH1fGaVJo