Here are four good reasons why you might want to use a mounting block the next time you get on your horse:
1) Using a mounting block is better for your horse’s back.
Jumping up into the saddle is quick and easy for you, but you could be putting a lot of strain on your horse’s withers and back. This is especially important if your balance and timing is not always perfect or if your saddle does not fit perfectly. Also, mounting from a block is much easier on horses that get ridden a lot–such as lesson horses, camp horses or trail rental horses.
2) Using a mounting block is better for your own back!
At the very least, it’s easier on your joints and muscles if you’re using a mounting block instead of trying to climb up onto your horse. This is particularly true if you’re not that tall but ride a mountain of a horse!
3) Using a mounting block is better for your saddle
Mounting from the ground also can put quite a bit of stress on your saddle. Using a mounting block will help extend the life of your saddle.
4) Using a mounting block lets your horse voice his opinion
A mounting block can be used as an important pre-riding safety check. If the horse will stand comfortably and willingly at the mounting block then he is giving permission for you to ride. The horse should willingly approach the mounting block, line up straight and then wait for you to get on. If you have to hold him still or repeatedly reposition him, he’s trying to tell you something!
First, have you taught him to stand nicely at a mounting block? You can’t ask for a behavior and expect to get it if you haven’t gone through a teaching process. If you have and he refuses, he is voicing his opinion about your desire to ride. Maybe he’s in pain. Maybe he’s lost some trust in you or is feeling annoyed because of something that happened last time. Maybe he’s still feeling antsy and fresh and needs a bit more ground work before you can ask for his total attention and ask him to stand still.
When I train, I want to give my horses choice. Rather than coercing or forcing them to do things they don’t want, I want the horse to be a willing and eager partner. When I’m having a good time, I want to know that my horse is too! Using a mounting block is one way to give the horse more control over the situation. And if he voices his displeasure regarding being ridden, it’s my job to figure out why, rather than try and force him to obey.