Many experienced athletic riders prefer to mount from the ground, on the left side of a horse. Mounting from the ground is a display of prowess in many riding circles. Horse owners often consider a mounting block as a crutch for older or inexperienced riders. The stigma of mounting blocks is slowly dissipating. There are advantages for utilizing a mounting block.
Horses retain balance front to back; however, mounting without a block may result in the horse losing stability. The horse will generally take a step to regain balance or brace and widen its stance. Movement by the horse may result with a fall for the rider or even possible injury.
Additional pressure is placed on the horse when a rider mounts from the ground due to the laws of gravity. As the rider lifts his total body weight, he exerts double his own weight on the stirrup. A rider should weigh no more than 20% of the horse’s weight. A heavier or shorter person will apply additional energy to lift himself onto the horse. A taller horse will endure surplus pressure due to the distance of the horse’s back from the ground.
As force is applied to the stirrup, the saddle rotates and turns on the horse’s back pressing on the spine. The withers receive the bulk of the pressure, as the saddle presses into the muscles on either side. The withers are the ridge between the shoulder blades of a horse and the tallest point of the body. While a mounting block reduces the pressure, a boost from an assistant for the rider, known as a leg-up, applies the least pressure on the horse. This method allows the rider to rise above the horse’s back and throw his right leg over, as he sits straight down onto the saddle.
Overtime, mounting a horse from the ground may result in permanent injury to the animal. Scapular asymmetry, thoracic paraspinal muscle pain, and thoracic subluxations may be caused by side mounting a horse. A mounting block will raise the rider off the ground, thus reducing the amount of torque placed on the horse and the possibility of injury.
The photo is courtesy of the Block by Christina Welsh from Flickr’s Creative Commons.
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