It was time to introduce the mounting block. I have a lovely pink mounting block. I wanted a nice sturdy one and I liked this with the three steps. It was important for me to feel comfortable.
I have anxiety surrounding mounting blocks. I’d had a bad fall a few years earlier while getting on a horse and I still felt nervous climbing the steps. I needed to thin slice this process for myself as well as for Ducati.
I so much wanted to ride – even though I’d had some bad experiences in the past. For me, riding is absolute heaven – but riding had always been littered with mishaps…. the first mishap was the very first time I sat on a horse. I was around eight years old, we had moved to Tamworth in country NSW, Australia.
When I was told we were moving from the city to the country, my only request was could I learn to ride. My sisters joined me. Mum found a ‘teacher’, Mrs Horneman, who taught children. Her idea of ‘teaching’ was to take all the kids with her while she rounded up cows! And this is what she did! We had crossed an enormous field and she was opening a gate. My pony decided he wasn’t staying, turned around and started galloping for home. I remember hanging on for dear life, crying for my mother!
I managed to stay on and when he got back to the yard he stopped. When Mrs Horneman finally caught up with me, she yelled! “Why didn’t you stop him!!!” Ummm …. because I’d never been on a horse before!!! She did add that she was impressed that I didn’t fall off! She then put a lead rope on my horse and off we went.
Since that moment I have always had a mix of fear and excitement when riding a horse.
We ended up with another teacher – Tex – and the pony I rode frequently shied – at anything! Sometimes she was fine – other times it would start. I would often end up on the ground. Tex would say – “What are you doing down there? Get back on!” And so I did. On one occasion, the pony – Sister – threw me off three times in the space of 15 minutes. The last time she shied she fell over and my leg was trapped underneath. I was lucky to never have any major injury.
Each week I looked forward to my ride with that mix of excitement and fear. And I still carry that same feeling. The urge to ride a horse is overwhelming – it’s worth feeling so nervous before a ride.
As I progressed through my teens, I rode various horses at various riding schools – I loved it. And then in my forties I rediscovered my passion, regularly riding at a local trail riding business. When we got our first horse, Quill, for daughter Emma, I rode him also. The worst accident I had was getting on a horse while out trail riding. I was getting on – using a log as a step – the horse started to walk off before I could get on properly – I lost my balance and fell flat on my back. I didn’t break anything but spent several weeks in bed and it took several months to fully recover.
Falling when you are older is so different to when you are young!
I also wanted to ride a horse that was happy to be ridden. Previously I was ignorant – not really aware of what the horse thought about it. Since studying positive reinforcement training I have learnt so much…. but the more you learn – the more aware you are of what the horse thinks of you being on its back.
Here is an example – two photos – and I may have posted these previously. The first is of me riding Danny in 2010. Just look at him! He wasn’t happy at all – while I was sitting there beaming! The second photo is of Danny earlier this year – 2019 – a much happier horse!
So now I was going to make sure the mounting block game was nice and solid before I thought of getting on Ducati. And I wanted Ducati to be happy about it!
COMING UP – THE MOUNTING BLOCK LESSON
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