Q: Why do people say that it is best to mount from a mounting block rather than from the ground?
A: Mounting from a mounting block is generally preferred by most riders and instructors as it places much less strain on a horse’s skeleton and muscles. Most horses in fact find riders mounting from the ground to be very uncomfortable, as the forces exerted on them are high. Horses who are mounted from the ground are far more likely to move around or move off when a rider starts the mounting process. This is often not due to ‘poor training’ but in fact pain on the part of the horse, from which he is trying to escape.
If we mount from the ground using the stirrup, the pressure exerted on the back of the horse is two to three times our actual weight on that one side of the horse. This means that a 70kg person (who when on the horse has a total weight of 70kg for the horse to carry), when mounting from the ground, puts a force of up to 210kg (3 x 70kg) asymmetrically on the horse’s back. If you ride five days a week, which is equivalent to 260 days a year, it means that 4,160 times in your horse’s working life he has to support this enormous weight, even if it is just for a few seconds at a time. We would never allow somebody weighing 210kg to sit on our horses, yet we put this force on their spines every day if we mount from the ground. Not only this, but most of us tend to mount from one side only. Even those of us who mount from a mounting block will have noticed that the stirrup on the side from which we mount stretches over time, and this same uneven distribution of forces is applied to the spine of the horse. If mounting from the ground, this situation is exacerbated hugely. This enormous load on the spine, muscles and front legs of the horse is not only uncomfortable for the horse, but can also result in severe damage, thus shortening the working life of the horse.