I'm a new subscriber and I want to thank you for the wonderful service you provide! You help make the world a better place. I have a question about "parking" (I don't know if I'm using the term correctly). I've taught both my arabian geldings to park before I mount. They are now so used to it that as soon as I go to their side to get on, they automatically stretch out and stand still for mounting. This makes it easier for me to get on as it lowers their backs by a couple of inches (everything helps when you are "vertically challenged"!). I've heard that this "parked" position is better for the horse's back, and more comfortable for mounting...judging by the ease of training, and the fact that they have not resisted it, I think it's true. Do you have any information that would point to the contrary? I ride mostly endurance and trail rides, and I want to make sure my "boys" are as comfortable as possible. Thanks, and happy '98!
If you can, find something to use as a mounting block instead of asking the horses to park out. The problem with parking out is that the horses are no longer balanced over their legs; their hind legs are far out behind their bodies, and their front legs are forward, which DOES make their backs lower and thus make them easier to mount, but which puts strain on structures that don't need it. Mounting when the horse is in this position puts weight on the horse's spine instead of on his back muscles -- when the horse has his legs under him, and is using his belly muscles to lift his back, the rider's weight is on the muscles of the back. It's better to let the horse be balanced in his own body, standing square with his legs underneath him, BEFORE you mount, since the act of mounting puts extra stress on the horse's back anyway.
I don't think you've hurt your horses -- and if you're ever stuck out in the middle of a field with nothing to climb on and no low place to put the horse, asking him to park so that you can mount would be a perfectly reasonable alternative to walking home leading him. ;-)
Back to top.
Jessica Jahiel's HORSE-SENSE is a free, subscriber-supported electronic Q&A email newsletter which deals with all aspects of horses, their management, riding, and training. For more information, please visit www.horse-sense.org
Please visit Jessica Jahiel: Holistic Horsemanship® [www.jessicajahiel.com] for more information on Jessica Jahiel's clinics, video lessons, phone consultations, books, articles, columns, and expert witness and litigation consultant services.