Theory and Method
From the time they come in for training, I am constantly hanging all over a horse. While they are eating their grain at night, I'll drape myself over their back. When I'm leading them somewhere, I'll hang my arm over their back. Any chance I have, I take advantage of it. It makes this next step much easier.
Starting off standing next to my horse, I'll see how much they can tolerate. If I've done my homework, I'll have great control of the feet from groundwork, the horse will be used to objects moving around him from being sacked out, and will be used to my presence above his head from fence work and being ponied. Standing next to my horse, I'll start jumping up and down next to them. If my horse doesn't move, I'll keep jumping for ten to fifteen seconds, then quit. If my horse does get nervous and moves off, I'll get control of his feet by moving the hips away, and continue jumping. I'll keep jumping until my horse settles down and stands still.
The next step is to get my belly up on the horse's back. I happen to be a bit vertically challenged, so except on very small horses, I use a block to get myself up there. In the beginning, just jump up, let your belly touch the horses back and slide down. As the horse develops confidence, I just a little bit higher, and just hang over the back. While I'm hanging there, I scratch the neck and shoulder to make it a good experience.
By doing this exercise, the first ride tends to go much more smoothly.
Please use caution and common sense. Horses are large animals, with an exceptional amount of power and strength. They are also concerned above all with their own personal safety, and will do whatever they feel it takes to keep themselves from harm. Being individuals that act and react differently, the only certainty you have when working a horse is uncertainty. I am a professional trainer with twenty plus years experience, yet even with the knowledge I possess, I still get hurt from time to time. This blog and the accompanying media are for entertainment purposes only. No responsibility will be assumed for injuries or damages incurred while trying to use these methods at home. Please ride responsibly; protective gear can save your life!