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  • Writer's pictureLouise Stobbs

Mounting issues

Mounting issues are one of the most common struggles people have and it often has to escalate to something more dangerous before people start to address it. If your horse doesn't want you to get on, ask yourself why.

I want to start out by saying that many mounting issues have a pain/discomfort component and not just a behavioural one. “He’s fine once I’m on” doesn’t mean there is no pain, horse’s are very tolerant creatures, and when you look deeper he often isn’t “fine once I’m on”.

If you have to have someone hold your horse and/or block them against a wall while your vault on at the speed of sound then your horse is not okay with being mounted. Its not just a quirk, its a gap in training or a horse trying to communicate discomfort.

The classic behaviours we see are swinging away from the block, backing up or rushing off as soon as your foot is in the stirrup but there are more subtle signs we need to look out for as well. Less dramatic behaviours such as raising the head as you gather the reins or put weight in the stirrup, swishing the tail or pulling a face are often completely ignored as the horse stands still and “allows” you to mount, but they are still expressing discomfort and we shouldn’t ignore it.

Here’s a simple checklist you can follow when training your horse to stand at the mounting block quietly:

🐴 Can they stand next to the block on a loose rein? Can you get on and off the block and walk around them? Are they comfortable with you up there or do they become tense?

🐴 Can you touch the saddle/play with the stirrups/lean over the other side? How do they react?

🐴 Can you pick up the reins? This one might seem like nothing but quite often this is the trigger point for the horse anticipating you getting on and they’ll start to show anxiety.

🐴 Can you put weight in the stirrup? This one can also be a trigger for moving off, especially when they’ve never been trained to stand, if they are always allowed to walk away then they have been trained to walk away, they think that is what you want them to do.

🐴 Does the horse stay relaxed as you sit up/move your legs/check your girth/alter your stirrups etc. None of this should be a worry to your horse or a signal to move off.

🐴 Does your horse walk away from the block in a relaxed manner? Does he feel tense at first or maybe a bit stuck?

How your horse feels about mounting can tell you a lot but it is so often treated as a means to an end, get on the horse and then the “real” training can begin. Just because your horse tolerates you on his back doesn’t mean he is fine with it, don’t wait until you have a more serious problem.

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