I have mentioned my mounting block fears on the blog before. A few months ago I felt that I had conquered them because I honestly didn’t think about it anymore.
And then Apollo dumped me twice after bolting at the mounting block (once I landed on my side and once I landed on my head).
Hello darkness, my old friend....
I worried that setback would turn into a downhill spiral of me not being able to mount any of my horses. But it didn’t. Henry is like the most chill dude ever at the mounting block. Mystic is very good too. Mighty Mare (my usual lesson horse at Coach D’s) has a habit of walking off right away.... which does make me a little nervous but I am getting better at correcting her and it doesn’t unnerve me as much as it did right after my two falls.
But I do not trust Apollo. I sometimes get these weird flashbacks of my recent falls as I’m about to get on and it can be very difficult to manage. Sometimes he has been a bit bolty and rude but mostly he’s been fine. I find the more nervous I am... the worse he is.
One of the things I discovered as part of the “root” of this problem is grabbing mane when I get on. I never used to do this but I got into the habit of it with the young horses. I wanted to make sure I didn’t catch them in the mouth if I lost my balance getting on. Out of habit I started doing that with Apollo too. And I noticed he started to get a bit rude at the mounting block sometimes (and it gradually got worse...) and so grabbing mane made even more sense. Both times after I fell off he was shaking his head a lot. And one of the first rides back when he bolted and I didn’t fall (and I had a clenched fistful of mane) he shook his head a lot too.
So as an experiment, I mounted him without grabbing mane. And he stood like a rock. Huh.
That experiment was very difficult for me haha! Being already kind of afraid and getting without my mane “safety net” was not easy.
So I’ve been doing my best not to grab mane now when I mount up. I’m kind of clumsy (especially when I’m really nervous - my coordination goes out the window) so sometimes I still end up grabbing mane... and the results are mixed. I really love riding Apollo but this mounting hurdle has been a challenge.
It’s also a super embarrassing problem to have. Like “Oh hello, I ride my two green beans horses on trail rides alone all the time.... but I am terrified to mount my 17 year old horse who I’ve ridden for 9 years.”
These are my current interim measures until I feel like Apollo and I are a safer pair at the mounting block again... perhaps in another 9 years? :(
2) I don’t ride bareback. (no stirrups = less balance when mounting...which makes me sad because I love riding him bareback)
3) I try to get on fairly quickly and not stand on the mounting block working myself into a panic.
4) I try to remember to breathe.
5) I give him a ton of praise when he stands quietly.
6) If possible I will ask Coach D or my husband to hold him (but I am usually alone).
*unless I think I may die.
Anyone have any other suggestions for me? I’m hoping after a few months of good behaviour I will feel more relaxed again and we will have rebuilt our trust bank.
To be honest (I feel like a horrible horse owner saying this) there are some days where I could ride him but I don’t...because I don’t want to deal with the mounting block stuff. He’s a bit pudgy (although I have been riding a fair bit) and more rides/exercise would help both of us.