Sunday, May 12, 2013

Rosie part 2

It’s been rainy and sloppy here, but the other day, I got back to work with Rosie, the 3 year old walking horse. I’ve been tasked to teach her to mount using a mounting block. A mounting block is a platform used to mount an exceptionally tall horse, or to assist riders who have difficulty getting a foot up to the stirrup. Sometimes they are permanent platforms with safety ramps and rails. Usually, they are lightweight, portable steps. The one I’m using is the lightweight, portable variety.

Marlyn using a mounting block on a horse named Pepper
I started by grooming Rosie without tying her to the hitching rail. I simply gave the command “whoa” and held her with a lot of slack in a long lead rope. I worked my way around her with the brush. When she tried to move, I repeated the command and reinforced it with a tug on the lead rope. It didn’t take long before she stood quietly on a slack rope while I moved all around her. Once she had that mastered, I picked up the mounting block and casually moved around her with it. I let her sniff at it to satisfy her curiosity. Then, I set it on the ground beside her. I continued brushing her then stepped onto the block and brushed her back. I draped myself over her and brushed the opposite side. Then, I did the same on the other side. Rosie never moved.

I kept her on the loose lead to saddle up. Someone was using the arena, so we stayed in the open area by the hitching rail and horse trailers to mount up. Once again, without tying to the rail, I casually set the block beside her. I mounted and dismounted a few times. The first time I had ridden her, I noticed that she had the habit of trying to walk off once I was in the saddle, but before I was settled in. I had to gather up the reins and stop her while I got my right foot in the stirrup. She did this a couple of times with the mounting block. She even bumped it with her foot a time or two. But she stood still while I got on and didn’t spook when she bumped the block. That was good.

I moved the block around to the other side and mounted and dismounted on her right side. Many horses aren’t trained to do this. The unfamiliar position could cause a horse to shy or spook. You can’t carry a mounting block on the trail with you. A person who needs assistance mounting needs to be able to use whatever might be naturally available. This could be a tree stump, a rock, or a dirt bank. You may have no control over which direction you can face the horse to utilize it. I want Rosie to accept being mounted from either side.

We did the same up and down drill several times from both sides in a few different places in the barnyard. After a half hour or so, I could slide the block underneath her from one side to the other before mounting. We finished up with that success.

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