History of a Horse Mounting Block
In days gone by, when horses were an integral part of the transport system, horse mounting blocks were built strategically on major routes to enable horsemen to readily mount their steeds. These permanent structures, often built from stone, form an interesting part of our history.
Today, the modern horse mounting block is a lightweight, portable piece of equipment, which is usually manufactured from durable plastic that can be placed wherever it is needed to readily assist a rider to mount a horse. However, horse mounting blocks are everywhere in the form of tires, curb stones, water troughs, logs and natural rock formations to name a few, so training your horse to come alongside and stand still for easy mounting will make life much easier for you when riding out.
Training the Horse
If you have difficulty mounting a horse, or are looking for an innovative way of teaching a horse to stand still for mounting, the following step by step process, as taught by Monty Roberts the world renowned horse whisperer, will assist you to train your horse to step sideways towards the mounting block, and stand still for you to mount.
Bear in mind that horses should always be mounted on the left hand side, as this is what they are trained to accept, and it also allows you to quickly check the girth, and tighten it if necessary, before getting on the horse’s back.
Mounting a Horse: Step by Step
To get your horse comfortable with the process, the following steps should be practiced a few times before attempting to mount.
Lead your horse towards the horse mounting block. This will usually result in the head facing the mounting block with the rump some distance away.
With the horse on the right of the mounting block, use the right rein, pulled up behind the saddle horn (on Western or Australian stockman saddles) by gently tugging on the offside rein to encourage the horse to swing its rump around by side stepping towards the mounting block, and into the correct position for mounting. If riding with an English saddle, tie a piece of string with a ring threaded through it around the cantle of the saddle, pulling the rein through the ring for training purposes. Once the horse has mastered this fully, there will be no need for the string and ring, as he will naturally go through the motions.
When the horse takes a step towards you on the mounting block, release the pressure on the right rein (negative reinforcement) and give it a rub on the nose as an incentive that this is a happy place to be (positive reinforcement).
Don’t rush the process; let the horse relax and get comfortable before proceeding further. It is very important that the horse understands that standing quietly by the mounting block is the best place to be. Repeat until the horse is comfortable and relaxed, and willingly moves alongside the mounting block and stands still for mounting.
Although not an indispensable piece of equipment, a horse mounting block can be useful for mounting a horse with ease and is also a great tool for teaching a horse to stand still for mounting, which is essential for rider safety.
Image Credits: Child learning to mount pony: By Ronja Addams-Moring CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons Horse mounting block from days gone by: Ray Woodcraft [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons