In this article I want to talk about mounting – something we all have to do before we set off on a ride but which can sometimes cause all sorts of trouble.
Safe mounting is all about preparing your horse well. If your horse moves around and makes mounting difficult there are a number of pointers that I can suggest that may help.
Gaining your horse’s attention
This is relatively easy and very important. A horse that is not paying attention or wants to be somewhere else will walk past you, or worse, over you. If this is the case, don’t try to stop him, just keep out of his way and give his hind-end a little chase so that it flips away from you and your horse ends up facing you. If he looks away again, that’s fine but if he walks off, repeat the process. It may take a few repetitions before your horse decides to stop and to stand facing you. Once he is standing and is relaxed, walk down each side giving him a rub as you do so. If he decides to move off, repeat the process.
Desensitising your horse
You need to make sure that your horse is desensitised and is not over-reacting to the movements and noises associated with mounting. Can you pull the stirrups down, tap the saddle and jump alongside them without your horse over-reacting? If not, as long as it is not too much of an over-reaction, keep going with the movement until your horse realises that the noise or movement is not going to hurt them and they stop and relax. Again, you may need to repeat this a few times until your horse is comfortable with these movements.
Releasing your horse’s energy
Often, horses come out fresh and may therefore be too impatient to stand still for us to mount. If this is the case in your situation, give your horse a controlled lunge to release some of his pent up energy. This energy should be released slowly. Think of your horse as a shaken bottle of coke!
Gaining control of your horse’s hind-end
How can you stop your horse from doing that annoying habit of swinging their hind-end away from you just as you go to get on? To prevent this from happening involves teaching your horse to flex away from you (reverse flexion) and to be able to get your horse’s hind-end to step back towards you. Firstly, you need to ask your horse to flex their neck away from you, and then, while in this position, walk around to the side that you are bending them towards. As you do this, you are looking for your horse to move their hind-end in order to straighten their body. Once the hind-end steps away and your horse straightens up, you need to release the pressure. You may need to repeat this movement several times until you feel you have full control of your horse’s hind-end. This should mean that now if your horse goes to swing their hind-end away from you as you are mounting, you can reach across their neck and by using the right rein, bend them away from you causing them to step their hind-end back towards you.
Stand by the horse’s shoulder and bridge your reins, keeping the inside one shorter than the outside one. This is so that if your horse decides to move off, you can rotate your wrist and bend his head towards you and therefore disengage his power. With repetition, this will hopefully teach him that there is no point in walking off. Try to swing up into the saddle as smoothly as possible and lower yourself gently into the saddle.
Jason Webb at Australian Horsemanship specializes in starting young horses under saddle and finding the solutions to behavioural and ridden problems. For more information please visit www.australianhorsetraining.co.uk or contact us on 07749914267 / firstname.lastname@example.org.