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“What is your opinion on mounting blocks? Is it easier and better for the horse?”

20 Jan

“What is your opinion on mounting blocks? Is it easier and better for the horse? My horse is getting a little age on her and I want to do what is best for her.”-Rhonda J.

Mounting blockI can’t see anything wrong with using a mounting block and there could be many benefits.

Some people argue that a mounting block is easier on the horse because the rider doesn’t put uneven pressure on the horse when mounting. The degree of benefit would likely be influenced by the horse and rider team, as the combination will help determine what is ‘easier’ for the horse. The age, size and athletic ability of both the horse and the rider would play a part.

Many cutting and reining horses are short, some never reach 14.2 and would technically be ponies. It is much easier to mount up on a 14.1 hand horse than a 17.2 hand horse.  How easy or difficult mounting would be is also determined by how athletic the rider is. Most 16 year olds can spring up into the saddle easier than a 50 year old who has had knee surgery.

Mounting is more strenuous for the horse when the rider struggles to mount. A young, fit horse may tolerate this better than an older, unfit horse but it isn’t ideal for either. Many riders never learn how to spring off the ground and transfer their weight into a downward pressure rather than hanging off the horses side, twisting the saddle. Some riders know how to mount properly but become forgetful or lazy. Still others face physical challenges that make mounting smoothly difficult. If you believe that you are putting excessive strain on the horse during mounting, consider teaching the horse to stand near objects for mounting.

Teaching a horse to stand near objects for mounting has no real drawbacks and will increase the horses knowledge base. Many things can be used for mounting including; mounting block, fence rails, stumps or logs. It is important that you are able to remount wherever you are riding so if mounting is difficult also consider carrying one of the many portable mounting devices that are available.

Available at Stagecoach West, click here for more info.

Trail step

Some items, like this Trail Step are designed to travel with you and yet are not easily stolen.

 

 

 

 
25 Comments

Posted by on January 20, 2015 in Life, Members Question

 

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25 responses to ““What is your opinion on mounting blocks? Is it easier and better for the horse?”

  1. Linda Craig

    January 20, 2015 at 2:41 pm

    I see a lot of even young, fit riders haul themselves up into the saddle in a way that yanks the saddle against the horse’s spine. The vast majority of us do not have that “spring” that would put us up that high off the ground without pulling on the saddle. Most riders I see do not mount as gracefully as they might think they do and if you can read the horse, you often see a bracing of the legs, a hollowing of the back, the head being raised and neck hollowed, the ears going back etc. If you can vault up with “no” negative expression of your horse, you are probably not doing it an unkindness, or you have a very stoic horse! Though there are many benefits to being able to get up on your horse without a saddle (dismounts, intentional and unintentional, away from home etc) and it might be a very good thing to practice and to be able to do in a pinch, but overall using a mounting block in my opinion is much kinder on the horse.

     
  2. Peg

    January 20, 2015 at 2:53 pm

    I agree with you Linda. I train my colts to stand by a mounting block from the very first ride. I don’t always use one later on because it isn’t always available but they learn early on. I am short and most generally need to use one but even on a short colt I like to not stress them with any discomfort early on in training.

     
  3. Carrie Crowe

    January 20, 2015 at 3:01 pm

    i use mounting blocks or tailgates or whatever i can get on simply because my knees and feet are shot. Plus i don’t have the strength to do it like i use to. I also believe it is easier on the horse, I’ve watched many people mount from the ground and the look on the horses faces isn’t always a pleasant one.

     
  4. Charlesanna

    January 20, 2015 at 3:28 pm

    I never used a mounting block until 2013 after having hip replacement surgery on my left side. I wasn’t able to mount well and push my weight up with my left foot in the stirrup.So to prevent injuring myself, I started using different things to mount until I found one that suited me. It was also good training for the horse I was starting at the time. He stands very well for mounting and dismounting. For trail riding, I Googled a portable mounting aid, since I didn’t want to purchase one at the time I used a stirrup leather from an old English saddle to extend the stirrup down low enough for me to mount. It worked and could be hooked over the saddle horn out of the way while riding and still be available if needed again during the ride.

     
  5. shelybo65

    January 20, 2015 at 3:35 pm

    I’m glad this subject came up as I have often wondered this myself. Over the past few years, my body is not what it use to be (neither is my horse Flicka – 24) and I HAVE to use a Rubbermaid step stool that I take with me and place anywhere I need to mount. Otherwise, I would not be able to trail ride and that is not in my plans at age 50! I use to be embarrassed, but now I do not care as long as I get to ride. I hope to be riding for quite awhile 🙂

     
  6. Jennifer

    January 20, 2015 at 3:42 pm

    I always used the mounting block because I’ve always had bad knees, but I’m finding now that I can get up from the ground when the horse is 14.1 HH, anything taller and I need something to get up on.

     
  7. Candie

    January 20, 2015 at 4:13 pm

    My horse was 17.1. There was no way in this world could I mount from the ground for either of us. I always stood on something to get on him. Whether he was 17.1 or I was riding a more normal size horse, I agree that it is easier on the horses back to use a mounting block of some kind. That being said, people still need to realize that you do not plop on a horses back even if you use a mounting block. I’ve seen that happen too. Makes me cringe when I see something like that happen.

     
  8. Claire James

    January 20, 2015 at 4:22 pm

    This article is very interesting – research shows that the least stress to the horse’s back is by mounting from a high block where you can simply swing your leg over and sit down, rather than from the ground, low block using the stirrup, leg up or supported by someone on the other side. I always mount from the high block to save my horse’s back. http://www.centaurbiomechanics.co.uk/centaurbiomechanics-co-uk/_img/MountingPressure.pdf

     
  9. Caytlin

    January 20, 2015 at 4:36 pm

    I am a bigger girl and have a hard time mounting especially since i don’t ride consistently so my muscle memory sucks so i have my step sister “Help” me by pushing a tiny bit on my but to help me straighten out so I can get my leg over. Sometimes she doesn’t have to push at all and other times it is really needed. I’m not given the option to use a block so that’s how I get up with them. Lucky me i have a very tolerant mare that i ride. I’m probably to much of a beginner to ride her but that’s the reason I love her,She pushes me to really work hard to read what shes telling me.

     
  10. Anna Thompson

    January 20, 2015 at 5:01 pm

    I do both. I find it useful to be able to get into the saddle from the ground for example if I have to dismount for some reason on the trail and there isn’t anything to mount from again. So I practice it both for the horse and for me too. But I also train them to let me mount from a block or from the fence. My horses seem to prefer it that way – probably because
    for me at age 49 that ‘spring’ isn’t what it used to be anymore and the saddle does pull on them while I mount.

     
  11. Kendall

    January 20, 2015 at 5:13 pm

    Could you post a video of the correct way to mount from the ground, just so everybody knows.
    Also I was wondering what some of your favorite books are? Horse or non horse related. That is if you even like to read lol

     
  12. Julia

    January 20, 2015 at 5:40 pm

    I always use a mounting block because as a woman in my 40’s I don’t have that “spring” either. But you make a good point about teens and their agility – I know kids who do vaulting who literally “sproing” up onto the horse’s back like they have springs on their feet. I think it’s like everything else – if you’re young and strong and can just jump right up, then fine. But if you’re trying to mount a horse, and you have to “pull yourself up” then it’s probably pretty uncomfortable and potentially not good for the horse and it’d be a lot kinder and better for your horse’s back to mount with some sort of step. Plus, it’s a great opportunity to learn something new and do more ground work with your horse if they haven’t been trained to stand next to something for mounting.

     
  13. Karen Bockus

    January 20, 2015 at 6:53 pm

    I think a lot of this discussion is the plain lack of ability to get on the horse. Granted getting on a 17h horse comes with its challenges, I even notice the stretch when I get on my 16h Quarter horse.
    However If I ever went to my trainer and used a mounting block, well it wouldn’t happen. Last year I undertook to learn how to mount either side with ease. It took me most of the summer to build up my leg muscles. Now when I go out bush wacking and cutting trails on my big horse it’s really handy hopping on and off either side. My horses are trained so I don’t use my reins, which gives a lot of people pause at shows and trail events. Oh I’m 64 and the fella I train with is 63 short, and trains many very large horses, so my motto is if can do it, do it. It’s just really handy.

     
    • Brenda

      January 21, 2015 at 11:16 am

      Karen,
      Would you share the exercises and/or techniques you used all summer to build up your leg muscles and work with the horse on mounting both sides.

       
  14. Georgia Anderson

    January 20, 2015 at 7:02 pm

    I do not feel that it is fair to my horse to mount from the ground if something better is available. I am not as springy and coordinated as I would like to be. On occasion I will dismount on the trail and will be unable to find even a small rock to mount from. When mounting from the ground I make it as quick and painless as I can manage, then I apologize to my horse. He seems to understand and forgive.

     
  15. Joyce Pickering

    January 20, 2015 at 8:05 pm

    When I was in my early 50’s I had to start using a mounting block. After my first hip surgery I had to use a taller mounting block and now at 71 after having my 2nd hip surgery I mount from the tail gate of my pick up or from a picnic table. My legs have no strength but I am exercising and trying to build the muscles up. If I didn’t use a mounting block it would be too hard on my horses back. But I will not give up riding…I ride every day. I train my horses to move over towards me so I don’t have to stretch too far to get on. They stand perfectly still and even let me push off their butt to get off. I found it is harder to get off that get on. Getting my leg over the cantle is a real chore.

     
  16. Cherie Dine

    January 20, 2015 at 10:36 pm

    I prefer a mounting block. I purchased a horse a little bigger then I like because he is safe. Im a large women, almost 40. After years of being out of the saddle, I have lost a lot of muscle, gained a larger spare tire, and have almost no spring. I really need both my knees replaced but refuse to do it. I like the stirrup leather idea, and may have to try for the occasional trial ride. I still think I’m alittle much for my boy, but he puts up with me and really tries to help me when I lose my balance mounting.

     
  17. Jeannine Gruber

    January 20, 2015 at 11:10 pm

    After breaking my first leg at age 50 I started using a step stool, which is also my brushes and comb, etc. box. Then five years later broke my other leg so I invested in a really nice heavy duty three step mounting block and love it. I honestly believe my horses like it because their withers are not getting yanked on during the mounting process. It’s also nice when the grandkids ride because I don’t have to help them mount.😀

     
  18. Demetra

    January 20, 2015 at 11:46 pm

    I believe you should always use a mounting block of one is available to you. It’s a simple courtesy that puts less strain on your horse, no matter how athletic you and/or your horse is. While it’s easier to mount a shorter horse from the ground than a big warm blood, why put any strain on your horse that you don’t have to. I think it’s good doe your horse to know how to stand for all types of mounting scenarios….ground, block, fence, etc.

     
  19. Sharon Hill

    January 21, 2015 at 1:18 am

    Dismounting and mounting used to be part of a horsemanship class around here. I don’t know when it was discontinued. I used to use the step bumper of my truck to get on my horse. I’m short and suddenly my knees wouldn’t give me the oomph I needed. Made it easier on both of us.

     
  20. Heather

    January 21, 2015 at 10:44 am

    I think a mounting block is a huge help for the horse…even the tallest, most athletic rider puts a certain amount of pressure on the withers when mounting. We all have to know how to mount from the ground as you may have to when out on the trail, but the block gives the horse a break!

     
  21. Kim Meijer

    January 21, 2015 at 9:36 pm

    What about dismounting? Mountaining block or not?

     
    • Stacy

      January 22, 2015 at 4:02 pm

      I used your question for todays blog:What about dismounting from your horse, mounting block or not? click here to read it.

       
  22. kaktuskat1

    January 31, 2015 at 6:27 pm

    Reblogged this on katrinategland and commented:
    I don’t have a horse anymore; but I have taken lessons and have used a mounting block. I’ve discovered it makes it easier to mount over trying to mount from the ground.

     

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