Mounting Up

So it’s become a slight problem, this mounting thing. 

Llani has pretty much always stood still for me to mount, occasionally we fidget at the block or take that awkward step away, but it’s never been a problem.

Then, a couple of friends have ridden him and found it impossible to mount. He’s twisted and turned, fidgeted and faffed. I groan inwardly and then prepare myself for the worst the next day.

No problem. Or at least, nothing out of the ordinary.

So what is it that triggers Llani’s ants in his pants?

I thought about it when I rode over the weekend and found the solution. I ALWAYS pick up my reins before I position the mounting block or get my foot in the stirrup. Logically, I want him to stop moving and not take another step while I slide the block left or right, so I put the brakes on, and then sort out the mounting.

As my friends found out, there is nothing more frustrating than positioning the block, climbing up, only for your horse to turn and glare at you.

So I’ve continued my observations and after riding four horses today, yes that is four hours in the saddle (I’ve soaked my tired muscles in the bath already), I noticed that I always have my reins. Likewise, I’ve noticed how many people don’t have their reins gathered!

This brings me in to …

The Correct Mounting Procedure

  1. Tighten your girth, run down your stirrups, pull forelegs forward, put reins over their head. The horse’s, not the rider’s, that is. 
  2. Lead the horse to the mounting block. If it I’m immovable then you need to work harder at getting your horse as close and straight as possible. If it is moveable I get pretty close, halt, then adjust the block slightly.
  3. Once the horse is standing, gather the reins on the near side as you over towards the shoulder. If your horse twists to face you, then keeping the right rein shorter helps prevent this.
  4. Climb up the block quietly and quickly, keeping the reins, and put your left foot in the stirrup and swing your right leg up and over the cantle. Don’t hang around on top of the block, it will annoy your horse and encourage him to fidget!
  5. If your horse takes a step forwards as you sit into the saddle it’s not a bad thing as they are balancing themselves, but you don’t want your horse to march off, as you may need to check your girth and stirrups.

I remember being taught to mount from the ground; you put your left foot into the stirrup when you are standing at the shoulder, facing the hindquarters. In three hope you should turn yourself 180 degrees before swinging up into the saddle. I will admit that having mounting blocks and knowledge of the twisting of the saddle and spine means I rarely get on from the ground and to be honest, I can’t remember if I turn on my hops or not! I definitely do three hops to get the momentum to clamber up!

I think it’s a dying art, mounting from the floor. Whilst I believe it isn’t good for horses to be mounted from the ground daily, especially by those with no spring, we should still try and do it regularly so we aren’t caught out on a hack.

On the same note; who can mount from the offside? We used to practise for gymkhana games, but it’s also good if you have an injury or recovering from one as you may not out so much pressure on it, and it helps strengthen the horse’s back.

Talking about this reminds me of the time I was escorting a hack. I chose, for reasons I will never know, to ride the 18hh riding school horse.

I realised my first mistake when I got stuck under some low branches, which never seemed that low from the 14hh pony I usually escorted on.

Then, about twenty minutes into the hack, as we’re trotting along the track in the woods I heard this cry;

“One of my bandages has come off!”

I stop, turn around, and see this ex-racehorse plodding along with a navy fleece bandage flying freely behind!

So I jump off and rebandage said leg, before realising my second mistake. I needed a stepladder to remount!

Luckily, I found a log and used that to clamber on, and we continued.

Towards the end of the hack we had a canter around the corn field, and when we slowed to walk I heard a cry;

“Another bandage had unravelled!”

Making a face, and silently cursing the groom who had bandaged the horse, I skydived off my steed and removed the bandage. With five minutes until home I manufactured a neck strap for him, and then turned to assess my problem.

How the flippity flipping heck was I getting back on? I could walk back, but it was a Saturday and I’d been on my feet since 7am and still had another couple if hours of yard work to do, so I needed to save my legs.

Taking a deep breath, I hoicked my left foot into the stirrup, doing the splits as I went, and did about ten fruitless hops before summoning enough courage to leap.

It was a bit of a scramble, but I made it! And I never rode that giant to escort hacks again. 

Neither did I trust that groom’s bandaging skills!

On an afterthought, who keeps hold of their reins when they dismount?

One thought on “Mounting Up

  1. firnhyde Apr 25, 2015 / 8:39 am

    Step One made me laugh! I ride a stallion who has an awkward habit of sniffing me while I bandage up his legs. This is no problem except that he tends to toss the reins over my head in the process, attaching me to this large animal by my neck! Tied up reins for him while I wrap his legs in future!
    I mount almost entirely from the ground, mostly because I dislike being smashed into mounting blocks by stupid overexcited youngsters. I can see how blocks can minimise pressure on the horses’ backs, but I believe my technique is fairly kind on the horses as I was taught to mount with a saddle but with the girth removed. That sure teaches you not to yank on the saddle!
    I usually hold the reins while I dismount if the horse is young or spooky. If the horse is quiet I sometimes drop them. Usually I keep a hold on them, but hold the pommel as well to swing myself up and off because I kick both feet out of the stirrups before starting to dismount.

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