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Trouble at the mounting block

(15 Posts)
nooptionforwillis Mon 18-May-15 17:24:47

Hi all. I'm currently looking after a rescue pony. Story is that he was abused by travellers and dumped.

He's coming on nicely although very nervous. However he will not stand still at the mounting block. I think that his old 'owner' ran and jumped on him and encouraged him to shoot off from a standstill.

Any hints or tips please?

JulyKit Mon 18-May-15 18:39:49

Have you had his back and teeth checked?
Does all his tack fit properly?

You need to be absolutely certain of those things, because it may be that he's shooting away from the mounting block because he's anticipating pain.

If you're certain that that's not the case, have you tried just leading him to the mounting block, standing there for a while, then just leading him away very calmly, leading him to mounting block, standing on block, standing on block and leaning across the saddle, etc. (i.e. as if early backing), until slowly and gradually he can stand and be relaxed and calm while you mount as normal?

nooptionforwillis Mon 18-May-15 18:51:11

Thanks for the reply. Yes, all completely checked. Clean bill of health. Agree about pain could be a contributing factor but his reaction seems to be 'by association'. As he anticipates something about to happen.

The leading calmly always results in him 'moving' away.

So you lead him there.

He stands still.

The minute anyone goes to lean/mount, he just swings away.

If you have someone at his head and the opposite (right) side he'll stand still and you can mount, but otherwise he'll just go.

I wonder about feeding him there and doing nothing other than standing there for ages with nothing but good things happening to him; food, stroking etc.

Gabilan Mon 18-May-15 21:00:32

A friend of mine had this recently and it's taken a few months but she can now generally get on unassisted. If the mare starts moving around we give her about 20seconds and then one of us will hold her, so that she doesn't associate the mounting block with monkeying around.

Is your block moveable? Is there somewhere he's more comfortable? Sometimes the horse will be comfortable standing facing one direction but not another in which case you can keep mounting where they are comfortable until you can build up to mounting elsewhere.

It is just patience and repetition. Make the behaviour you want something that's comfortable and rewarded. We also found that a round mounting block that's easy to move was a boon. The mare gave up when she realised that the block was just going to be moved round and round until she stood still.

And yes, she's had teeth, back and saddle checked!

carabos Mon 18-May-15 21:15:36

Is it the mounting block or the mounting. Try mounting from the ground, from a fence, gate, stone. Keep him guessing. When you do get on, don't let him walk away. Make him stand for a few minutes, then get off and repeat.

AuntieDee Mon 18-May-15 21:49:06

A few things I do

- Use a 'mounting block' for grooming - stand on the block whilst you are doing nice things so the horse doesn't just associate it with mounting. It could also be the horse is worried about someone being higher than them if it wasn't backed properly so will desensitise them to this.

- Try carrot stretches from the ground and translate them into the saddle. Once they 'get' that they have to reach back for a treat, you can do this mounted, as a reward. They soon learn to wait for the treat.

- Don't muddle the mount and swing yourself on just to get on. If the horse moves, walk the horse away and represent at the mounting block. I had one like this and we did this over and over again until she stood calmly. The next time it was less and each time she got better. Every time she went backwards we started again with the representing and only got on when she was stood still. It's easy to just hop on when you are in a rush but its also easy for little things to escalate.

- I always teach the horse to stand at the mounting block, rather than moving the block to the horse, as you cant move a wall when you are out hacking ;)

- We never move straight off after mounting. I always insists the horse stands still - I faff a bit on purpose. Mess with the stirrups, check the girth, do a couple of steps of reinback, count to ten. All to instill the idea that getting on doesn't mean riding off straight away.

Ones that have been harshly treated are so difficult but always so rewarding when they start to trust and work with you. Good luck and enjoy it smile

nooptionforwillis Mon 18-May-15 22:20:49

These are all such helpful posts. Thank you.

I've never heard of carrot stretches!

Gabilan Mon 18-May-15 22:48:44

Willis in the case I was helping with, the mare is quite stallion-like in that you have to make her think things are her idea in the first place. Then she's actually quite willing but she's incredibly stubborn if you tell her to do something and she doesn't want to do it or doesn't understand what you're asking. I think she was backed and brought on in something of a hurry by a professional who was paid to do it.

We didn't want mounting to become an issue for her. Initially the easiest thing to do was for one person to hold her and another to leg the rider up. This was easy and hassle free so she got it into her head that having a rider get on board was no problem, but obviously it did require 2 assistants. Next step was legging the rider up with no-one holding her, once the first thing was established. She does tend to swing away - this could be remembered pain or just that she wasn't properly established. Either way, she isn't in pain now. In our case the moveable block helped because she just gave up with swinging around when she realised it didn't work. She will now happily stand by a fixed object for her owner to mount unassisted.

Other people will have different ways of doing things. I think in the end, so long as you have a happy, calm horse who trusts you, who you can mount with minimal fuss and assistance whilst it stands quietly, your exact method of getting there doesn't matter. Kindness, patience, lateral thinking and just enough firmness will get you a long way.

Velociraptor Tue 19-May-15 10:51:57

I had a horse with the same issue. What worked for him was as AuntieDee says, grooming while stood on a mounting block, or in my case a large upturned bucket. He gradually got used to me being above his back, so I then started leaning across and laying over him. I then started mounting from the bucket. This eventually translated to getting on at the mounting block. What also helped was to start with always having someone holding him for me to get on, to break the cycle. He got used to standing eventually.

Another idea is to have the mounting block/bucket near a wall, so the horse has to walk between the wall and the mounting block, taking away the option to swing away sideways.

Nooptionforwillis Tue 19-May-15 18:38:44


Nooptionforwillis Tue 19-May-15 18:39:53

Thank you all. I had another go today and we're going to start road testing the ideas.

Really appreciate the time taken to post these answers thank you

AuntieDee Thu 21-May-15 17:18:23

You're welcome smile it's a crappy problem so I hope you can get to the bottom of it

Emjones88 Sun 24-May-15 17:23:10

Putting the block/step near a corner so that pony is near the wall (obv not enough for them to feel 'trapped') might help prevent the moving off. Also have you ever tried getting on from the off side (right side) some wiggly ponies are so bamboozled by this that they just stand there lol.

The using the step for other things like grooming is an excellent idea.

goodasitgets Sun 24-May-15 17:27:03

Treats from the saddle helps wink
My mare goes to walk off sometimes but she will stand and wait now and stretch round for a mint when I'm on. Also do it just before I get off

Nooptionforwillis Sun 24-May-15 23:21:12

This week I've just got on from the floor with someone holding the other stirrup. I need to break the drama. It's not ideal as its bit great for his back or the saddle but he's good as gold.

You can stand there all day grooming, holding etc but the minute my foot goes in the stirrup he swings away. He's actually so afraid he just barges into anyone that's holding his head.

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