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One of my pet peeves is when a horse will not stand still at a mounting block for me to get on. I do not care how much the horse wants to get on with their job, if I want to faff around before I get on, the horse should have the manners to stand and wait for me to get on. However, racehorses are very rarely mounted from a mounting block and usually are mounted while walking. Therefore, many ex racehorses do not stand at a mounting block, it is something they need to be taught.
Why should we use mounting blocks? Mounting from the ground puts unnecessary pressure and strain on our horses backs. Therefore I will only ever get on from the ground if there is no other option. A good horse will stand by a mounting block, fence, wall, park bench, fallen tree, anything you can use to get a little further off the ground before getting on. The video below shows the process of mounting from the ground in slow motion.
As with all things horsey, when teaching a horse to stand at a mounting block, it is easier if you have a second pair of hands, but may not be necessary!
First of all, does your horse stand still in hand and tacked up? If not this is where to start. While leading, ask the horse to stand, as square as possible. I personally do not see the point with battling to get them completely square at this stage, it often comes later as they build up muscle. Once they are standing, praise them and move to stand a bit behind their shoulder.
My horse turns to look at me or moves away when asked to stand. The easiest way to fix this is to ask them to stand between you and a fence/wall. Again, praise them when they stand still.
Introducing the mounting block. If you have an extra pair of hands, stand next to the mounting block and get your helper to lad the horse over and ask them to stand next to the mounting block. If the horse doesn’t stand still or doesn’t want to go near the mounting block, use similar tactics as above, leading the horse through a gap between the fence and the mounting block. Once the horse is happy with standing next to the block, slowly stand on the block. If the horse doesn’t move, get back down and lead the horse away and then back round. Repeat this step a few times to make sure the horse is happy with it. (Most horses are!) If you do not have a helper, you will just have to lead and stand the horse yourself and then stand on the block.
Getting On. The next step is to start getting on using the mounting block. Once the horse is standing square (ish) and relaxed, mount the horse as normal, not allowing the horse to walk away or back up. Once he stands for a few seconds, get off, lead away and repeat. Take this further: once the horse is standing still for you when you get on. Mount and be still for a few seconds before asking the horse to walk on. Do a loop back to the mounting block and repeat.
If the horse is particularly anxious, it may be useful to use treats. Give the handler treats to give the horse when it stands still at the block, when you get on the mounting block and when you get on.
If you still have problems, ask someone to check how you are getting on. You might be being a bit clumsy and be kicking your horse or pulling one rein more than the other, causing the horse to move.
If you have any major issues with these steps AND you have a helper, my initial thoughts would be to have the horses back checked, to make sure there is no obvious reason the horse may not want you to get on.