Did you know that the mounting process is often the most stressful part of the lesson for participants and our horses? To increase success and confidence, below please find a couple of tips that improve the experience for all involved:
- For everyone at the ramp – our goal is to be safe and efficient. We try to avoid excessive time at the ramp, so please be sure stirrups are down before walking in and avoid chit chat between volunteers, staff, and participants during the mounting process.
- As a leader – your job is to safely guide the horse into the mounting area. Please be sure to give the horse plenty of space to walk into the mounting area straight- if you start walking on the rail near the “people” gate to the arena near the lounge (at letter “P”), that should be sufficient. Immediately before getting to the ramp, you can begin to walk backward facing your horse’s head. It is preferable for the horse to be close to the ramp and centered in the middle of the mounting area. If your spacing is off, please do not push or pull your horse into the correct position – simply walk out of the mounting area and come through a second (or third) time. Once your horse is in the proper position and standing balanced on all four feet, please head them off by standing directly in front of their head about 1-2 feet away. Your lead line should be loose and it is okay for your horse to move their head – you should not hold them still by grabbing their bridle. Although they are cute, please avoid fussing over them while they work- they have a very important job to focus on and minimizing distractions helps them be successful 🙂
- As a first sidewalker – your job is to be the “off-side” and guide/accept the rider’s leg gently onto the far side of the horse. When the horse is approaching the ramp, wait outside the block and do not step onto it until the horse is “parked” or until the instructor directs you to. If your horse is not close enough to the ramp, please do not attempt to push them over. Remember, the horse and it’s positioning is managed by the horse leader. Your leader can simply take another lap to come in straight. If your rider is putting their foot in the stirrup on the ramp side for mounting, put weight in the stirrup on your side to equalize pressure on the horse’s back. If your rider is simply swinging their leg over without putting their foot in the stirrup, you do not need to weight the stirrup.
- As a second sidewalker – once the rider is mounted and walking off the ramp, you may step into place and apply whatever “hold” (such as arm over thigh or ankle hold) your instructor deems necessary. During the mount, you can stand 6-10 feet in front of the horse against the wall and wait to meet your rider as they come by after mounting. This decreases the number of people crowding the ramp and minimizes stress for our riders and horses.