How you mount can make a huge difference to how much your horse enjoys being ridden. If your horse is averse to a mounting block, you’ll know all too well how the experience can have a knock-on effect to the rest of your ride.
Equine behaviourist Dr Debbie Marsden shares her tips to help you hop on board with ease.
It all starts with confident handling
Before you think about getting on, or even tacking up, try these exercises:
Place your hand on his forehead and hold it there until he accepts and lets you do so without lifting his head.
Run your hand down his mane to his withers and start to scratch and give him a groom with your fingers. Try this until he turns his head towards you, or ideally begins mutual grooming with you.
Move your hand to his knee and pinch just above to get him to lift his foot. Hold the foot up by the toe for a few seconds then drop it. This will ensure he learns to hold his own balance rather than lean on you.
All of these exercises show your horse that you are confident and in charge.
Along with trying exercises on the ground to re-establish the hierarchy between you and your horse, make sure to be confident on the way to the mounting block. Try using circles – every time your horse moves his hindquarters at the block or tries to step away, circle him around. You’re the boss.
Perfect your mounting technique
Ensure you’re in a safe space with good footing (ideally a school with the gate shut).
Have a very solid block so that you don’t need to lift your foot any higher than six inches to reach the stirrup.
Position the block away from the wall, giving room to let your horse go safely between the block and the wall, but not to let him move his hindquarters away.
Gently check your girth.
Grip the reins and a chunk of mane by the withers with your left hand.
Use your right hand to guide your foot into the stirrup and then take hold of the stirrup leather on the far side (or the waist of the saddle). A friend can help by holding the other stirrup.
As soon as your foot is in the stirrup, hop across quickly and gently lower yourself into the saddle.
Find out more about mounting in this video with Richard Maxwell.
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