Mounting Block Manners Quick Fix

By Terry Golson

It can be aggravating when you’re just setting down into the saddle and your horse moves off before you’ve even slid your feet into the stirrups. If that’s the case, your reaction might be to pull back on the reins and say something in a harsh voice. That can set the tone for the whole ride.

You’d much rather be able to get on an immobile horse who moves off eagerly when asked (and only when asked.) This takes training.

But what if your well-mannered horse’s mounting block behavior deteriorates? That was the case with Cider, who is an amenable older gelding. I give his owner, Trina, riding lessons. She’s been annoyed at Cider because he’s been moving off  before her leg is fully swung over his back. It’s winter. It’s cold. You’re not so nimble when it’s 25° F; it’s truly irritating when your horse shifts out from under you before you can adjust your gloves and coat. When it’s that cold, it’s as hard to change emotions as it is to warm up, so even when you do get settled in, your mood stays grim.

Trina had read my blogpost about how I’ve taught Tonka to halt square and quietly. That made us look critically at how Cider was standing at the mounting block. He was camped out behind (so easy to observe, and yet so easy to not notice!)  Because of this stance, when Trina got on, Cider had to move in order to get comfortable. He wasn’t misbehaving, he was doing what he had to in order not to hurt.

Cider’s posture is something we’ve worked on under saddle to help keep this horse sound into his old age (I wrote about that here.) But we hadn’t paid attention to the very first moment of the ride.

So, for our lesson last week, Trina asked Cider to stand at the mounting block with all four legs plumb under him. She got on. He didn’t budge. That’s all it took.

Sometimes the fix is easy.

10 thoughts on “Mounting Block Manners Quick Fix

  • Deb Odom

    Brilliant reminder that solutions don’t always have to be hard, and to look a little deeper for the why of things. I appreciate you.

    • Terry Golson Post author

      There’s an assumption that horses should have certain default behaviors, like standing while mounting, and yet we don’t think through how (or if!) those expectations have been communicated.

  • Charlene Robbins

    How can I get my mare from walking off.
    Last week my friends had come ove for a ride. They were out in my front yard getting ready I was in my back yard. I went to mount my mare she decided as I had one foot in to start bucking and take off. She has never done that. It was 25 degrees sun shine crispy air and her favorite gelding (boyfriend) was here. Was not pretty

    • Terry Golson Post author

      It sounds scary! My guess is that your mare was upset to be out of sight of her buddies, especially her favorite. Combine that with brisk temperatures and you have too many things for the mare to cope with. Before I begin the training, I think through how to manage the environment so that the horse feels safe. You can train a horse to be calm away from their best friends, but it’s a process and not easy! To come up with a training plan for you and your horse, I’d need to know a lot more 🙂 If you do a blog search for “halt” and “mounting” and “herd bound” you’ll find more on these issues and my training perspective.

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