I did not get my own horse until I was an adult. Before that all my riding was at a lesson barn where you were not allowed to mount from the ground. You had to use the mounting block or get a leg up. It was explained that mounting from ground pulled on the horses back. I can see how with lesson horses who get ridden multiple times per day how it can really matter.
I am not short and my horse is not tall, but I still use a mounting block. Though I can claw my way up there (and give everyone a good laugh) from the ground, it is just easier for both of us if I find something to use as a block. I have never been on a trail ride that there was not something to make mounting easier.
Even when I was young I was never very graceful with mounting. It doesn't matter if I'm super thin or not, I just can't do it very well. I am 5'6", so I can't use the short excuse. I have a 15.3 and 17.1 and I use a block for both. Crawling up from the ground can't be good for them (with my lack of finesse.).
I remember -- and this is somewhat embarrassing -- having to get off on a trail to tighten my girth. My husband had to get off his horse to give me a leg up. He can mount from the ground much easier!
“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”
¯ Oscar Wilde
I am almost 5'8 and have a 16.2 TB. However, I am also 57 and not flexible enough to ground mount. The closest I have come is mounting from the little block in the jump field thusly: Find low spot. Place horse in low spot. Place block on "higher ground" next to horse. Decide just how much wobble there is in block and can you stand on it long enough to mount. Find out there is just enough flexibility to get left foot sort of in stirrup. Climb horse like a monkey until in the tack. Feel horse sigh. Send silent kudos to trainer who taught horse to stand while being mounted.
Mounting from the ground is terrible for the horse's back and isn't great for the saddle either. In a situation where you absolutely have to? Sure, fine. But if there's a block available, I think you should use it.
Side note - I would have a heart attack if I was selling my horse and someone went to mount from the ground without asking first. Torment your own horse and destroy your own tack, sure, but someone else's? Really?
"Are you yawning? You don't ride well enough to yawn. I can yawn, because I ride better than you. Meredith Michael Beerbaum can yawn. But you? Not so much..."
I grew up riding at numerous local barns, and everyone mounted from the ground, I rarely even saw a mounting block. When I went back to riding after a 20+ absence, my barn has a mounting block at every ring and outside of every barn and I love it. Still, I have had to mount from the ground on occasion for various reasons, and my instructor was very impressed that I was able to do so. I think it has to be much more comfortable for the horse using the block too, although I think both horse and rider should be able to do both.
Several years ago a friend of mine, who is a world class eventer, was giving a clinic at our barn. During the course of a lesson he got on someone's horse and the expression on the spectators' faces was very funny, people were whispering "what's he doing"? and "he's getting on from the ground"? Everyone was in awe at how easily he swung into the saddle, exactly as you would expect if you were watching a "how to" video.
I'm 5'7" and my horse is 15.2. I use a block/step. I just don't have the flexibility to get my foot in the stirrup and spring myself into the saddle anymore without yanking on it/him. I figured out awhile ago he was trying to tell me something when he'd keep stepping forward on me whenever I went to put my foot in the stirrup when mounting from the ground. He parks it and stands like a gentleman as long as I use the steps.
If I absolutely have to mount from the ground, I do what jaslyn does -- find a spot where there's differences in height and use it to my advantage.
Or side saddle, where women routinely need a "gentleman" to lift them into the saddle. My fiancé wouldn't go for that...
Hah! We should get so lucky. You should see all of the ss ladies scrambling to find something tall enough to stand on in order to mount up if we are not near our step ladder (yes, we bring a short ladder with us to the shows) or horse trailer.
We always mount our horses from some type of mounting block (3-step block, upturned cement block, truck tailgate, trailer tire fender... heck, even positioning them next to the hill so they are shorter!) if one is available. We can get on from the ground on most of them (but def NOT the 17.2 hh one), and have done so out hunting, but certainly prefer to not utilize that method if not necessary.
And I am with some of the others -- I would never allow someone who came to try one of my horses mount them from the ground. I will be glad to demonstrate that it can be done, if necessary, but they won't be doing it on my horse or with my saddle -- they can wait to buy the horse and then try it.
What about getting a leg up? Referring to getting back on while on the trail ride.
You could easily practice that to get your horse used to the concept of you not using a mounting block and then progress to using the ground. Just so he knows what you're doing and doesn't freak out. Other than that use random objects!
Bear in mind OTTB folks...Your TB horse has probably NEVER been mounted from the ground and may overreact to the strain against his withers and back. All of my mounting blocks - scattered in strategic places - are 3 feet high so I can pop over on even my 17 hander (my age, bad shoulders and knees forced this mode). In an emergency, I CAN mount my horse from the ground, but even on the trail there is usually a stump, ditch or big rock to aid to process.
I've scrambled up on my mare a few times from the ground, just to ensure that it could, in fact, be done. She looked a little offended, but she gives me that look a lot
On the whole, however, I will do anything in my power to avoid getting on from the ground. Tree stumps, car bumpers, upturned buckets, whatever. The horse has learned to be excellent about standing near pretty much anything so I can get on. There's no reason for me to torque my tack and the horse's back.
I mount from the ground once or twice a year just to make sure my horse still understands the concept and that I can still do it.
I mount and dismount at the mounting block. Mounting from the ground puts unecessary stress on my horse and may shift my saddle. It was kind of cute when my horse had that light bulb moment about dismounting at the mounting block. When we get back he eyeballs the block and gets himself situated all by himself. Forward, back, haunches over... all set for departure.
The more perfect our happiness,
the more nagging and wretched
do our unsolved problems seem.
~ Gordon Grand
I'll use a block if it's handy and available for the reasons of saving my horse's back and not wanting to twist my very old saddle (yay stubbens that last forever). My horse really doesn't care if it's from a block or the ground, if we're on the trail and we take a quick break, I'll find a stump, branch, whatever, to use and if that's not handy, go from the ground.
I also practise to mount/dismount from the off side as well I've been in situations where dismounting on the near side was not an option
Horse 1 = round as a propane tank Clyde-X mare. Yeah, she's only 15.2 and I'm 5' 6" but there's no way that saddle wouldn't slide around her porkchop self no matter how tight the girth. Not to mention my knee would never forgive me.
I bought a Norwegian Fjord to be my trail horse, reasoning that I could mount from the ground if I absolutely had to. What I didn't think about the almost non-existent withers and roly-poly nature of the fat layer(s) on her barrel. Looking on the bright side, she's the perfect horse to give kiddos bareback rides.
I'm in western riding country, and it's a pretty clean divide between who uses mounting blocks and who doesn't. The western riders don't, the English riders do.
I can mount from the ground when on a trail and my horse refuses to stand on the downward portion of the hill so I must stand downhill from him. I am 5'8"ish and he is 17hish. My little girl aka 16.1-2 is super easy for me to get on from the ground on a trail even though she doesn't stand still.
That being said if there is something to stand on or a mounting block then I use it. I think its far better for my horse's back and my saddle and myself.