The Mounting Block
The mounting block is a very good choice for the rider who would like to reduce stress during mounting for both the horse and rider. For the rider, it reduces the strain of having to stretch for the stirrup and pull up on a tall horse. For the horse, it reduces the amount of twisting the saddle exerts on his back.
If you decide to use a mounting block, be sure you pick one that is very sturdy. It should be placed on flat ground in a roomy area. Be very careful when using mounting blocks that are placed in sand arenas. The sand creates an irregular surface, and the mounting block may tip over while you are using it.
If a mounting block is not available, assisted mounting may be your perfect solution. There are many ways to help assist someone who is mounting to reduce stress on the rider and horse. Here I will talk about the “leg-up” and the “stirrup grab”.
The “leg-up” is a very low-stress mounting technique for the horse. Using this technique, there is no saddle twisting on the horse’s back, and no weight shifting. To use the leg-up technique, stand by your horse’s left side. With both reins in your left hand, grasp a hold of the horse’s mane. With your right hand, grasp the pommel or horn of the saddle. Bend your left knee to hold your calf up off the ground. Your friend grasps your calf, and on the count of “1-2-3”, boosts you up into the saddle.
The “stirrup grab” is also an effective technique to reduce stress on the horse’s back and spine from the saddle’s twisting. Have a friend grasp the stirrup leather on the right side of the horse. When you mount, your friend places (with her hand) on the stirrup leather, pulling downwards. This technique helps to even out the pressure on both sides of the saddle to reduce saddle slippage and twisting on the horse’s back.
If there is no mounting block available, and no friend or assistant available, you will need to mount from the ground. By following these techniques, you can help ensure that ground mounting is less stressful for both you and the horse.
First, lengthen the stirrup to a height that is easiest for you to reach. This will reduce the amount of energy used to pull up on the horse by allowing you to better spring with your leg muscles, thus, reducing saddle twisting on the horse’s back.
Always stand as close to your horse as possible when springing up into the saddle. Also, when you spring up to mount, keep your upper body as close to the saddle as possible, and always sit down into the saddle gently to avoid making the mounting process uncomfortable or painful for the horse.
To learn why the mounting process is so stressful for the horse, view this article: Physics of Mounting
To learn how to find the source your horse’s mounting misbehaviors, view this article: Misbehaviors While Mounting