Part Two: The Mounting Block
If you haven’t been following along, catch up on Odin’s story on the Colorado Horse Rescue website (here) and our previous blog posts. After a little heart-to-heart (as shown in the last video “Part One: Attitude Adjustment”) with Sarah, Odin decided he was ready to go to school at the mounting block!
Sarah began on the mounting block, using the same techniques of pressure and release to get Odin used to having a human so far above him. The only difference here is that Odin was rewarded not for facing, but being parallel to her. Sarah rewards Odin every time he is standing quietly and calmly at the block in a position appropriate for a rider to mount. In this way, Odin learns that the mounting block is actually a place to take a breath and relax. Have you ever had a horse move away while you are still mounting? You know how dangerous this habit can be. This is a great technique to slow down and work with more sensitive horses to prevent problems farther along in training.
Add Some Touch…
Once Odin stands quietly and consistently, the next step is to start adding touch on his back, neck, and shoulders. He gets lots of reassurance and praise in this step. Any time he moves away, the pressure comes back until he is standing quietly in the correct position. In the video, you will notice how slowly Sarah moves in this step – she never gives him more than he can handle.
Time to Get On!
Once Odin is standing and accepting touch, Sarah starts to add weight a bit at a time while keeping most of her balance on the block. If Odin remains calm and standing, the weight goes away. By breaking down the mounting process into small, achievable steps, Odin never panics. By the end of the session, Sarah is able to sit on Odin bareback in a halter with no fuss. What a good pony!
Remember, Odin is still available for adoption, and CHR can always use donations and volunteers. Want Odin AND a horse property to keep him on? We would love to help you with that!