Mount­ing Blocks

Trail Rider - - NEWS - BY BOB GOD­DARD

EEques­trian lit­er­a­ture is full of guide­lines on the proper way to stay on a horse. “Stay mounted” is, in fact, the first rule of good rid­ing. How­ever, an equally im­por­tant ques­tion is how to get on the horse in the first place. Mount­ing up on a horse is more com­plex than it looks. It should be stud­ied and ap­pre­ci­ated like any other as­pect of rid­ing.

Mount­ing up is a gen­tle art. Con­trary to what Westerns show us, horses don’t eas­ily ac­cept peo­ple jump­ing on their backs out of se­cond-story win­dows.

Horses ob­ject to rid­ers care­lessly plop­ping into the sad­dle for the same rea­son hu­mans ob­ject to a kick in the stom­ach. It doesn’t feel good. This is why my Rid­ing Sen­sei, Karin, vo­cally in­sists that I use a mount­ing block. It’s eas­ier on her horses, her equip­ment, and my ears.

Get­ting Grounded

So I was taken aback dur­ing a re­cent les­son when Karin in­structed me to mount up from the ground. With­out a leg up, there was no way for me to do that with­out ex­ces­sive plop­ping. What was this mad­ness? Six­teen months of proper mount­ing in­doc­tri­na­tion screamed at me from the inside: No Sen­sei, I mustn’t.

The Rule, the force of its logic, and con­cern for the an­i­mal, was trump­ing the judg­ment of the very per­son who made The Rule. I’m sorry, but in my book, Nat­u­ral Law tran­scends the whims of those who ar­tic­u­late it.

De­spite my ob­jec­tions, Karin was de­ter­mined to teach me this ground-mount thing. “You need to know how to do this. What if you’re out in the woods and you fall off Goldie?” “I just won’t fall off then.” She shook her head. “Ev­ery­one falls sooner or later. You’re not a true eques­trian un­til you fall off and get back on.”

“Then maybe you should teach me how to fall off, too.”

“That won’t be nec­es­sary. Goldie will take care of that for you.”

Right is Wrong

Ground-mount­ing is a spe­cial tech­nique that re­quires an acute sense of di­rec­tion, re­spect for historical tra­di­tion, and strong faith in the magic of phys­i­cal sci­ence.

First, you face the op­po­site di­rec­tion of the horse and stand on his left side Se­cond, you place your left foot in the stir­rup. The rea­son you place your left foot in the stir­rup while fac­ing the op­po­site di­rec­tion of the horse can be dis­cov­ered by a pow­er­ful learn­ing method called Trial & Er­ror, a method made pos­si­ble and en­hanced by Poor Lis­ten­ing Habits.

Third, ig­nore these in­struc­tions, and place your right foot in the stir­rup, and see what you learn. Fourth, de­fend your ac­tions by chang­ing the pa­ram­e­ters.

“You know, Karin, I could use my right foot if I was on Goldie’s right side.”

“That’s true. But we tra­di­tion­ally mount on the horse’s left.” “Who’s re­spon­si­ble for that idea?” “Ac­tu­ally, it started with the cavalry,” Karin ex­plained. “Rid­ers nor­mally hung their swords on their left sides, since most mounted troops where right-handed. You don’t want to try get­ting on a horse with your sword hang­ing in the wrong place.”

This made im­me­di­ate sense to me. Ra­zor-sharp ob­jects dan­gling in that re­gion would present a clear and un­pleas­ant dan­ger.

“At least that’s what they say, the prac­tice could have de­vel­oped for a lot of dif­fer­ent rea­sons,” Karin added, mak­ing room for the mis­cel­la­neous that makes up the vast ma­jor­ity of hu­man ex­pe­ri­ence.

Now, once you ac­cept the his­tory of it all, you lift your left foot firmly into the stir­rup, then “sim­ply” swing your right leg 270 de­grees up and over the sad­dle.

To ac­com­plish this, you must first com­plete a course in aerial yoga, have to­tal trust in your rid­ing in­struc­tor, and be­lieve in the magic of cen­trifu­gal force. And you might want to bounce a time or two to gain mo­men­tum be­fore swing­ing that right leg.

Af­ter a cou­ple of Tri­als & Er­rors, I con­ducted a suc­cess­ful ground-mount with­out ex­ces­sive plop­ping or se­ri­ous in­jury.

Then I rode Goldie out into the woods and promptly fell off of her. Be­cause I could. TTR

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.