Friday, August 14, 2009

Getting On

There is a local state park where I live that uses volunteers to patrol the park. The volunteers serve in a variety of different capacities from docents to mounted patrol. I thought it would be fun to volunteer to be a member of the mounted patrol so I asked them what the requirements were.

They gave me a list of requirements that ranged from being able to ride your horse at a walk, trot, and canter to being able to administer first aid. But one of the requirements that surprised me was that they wanted to see the volunteer mount their horse from level ground without assistance. I thought that this should be fairly obvious and I asked the ranger who administered the test about that. His reply shocked me. It turns out that it is the single most stringent requirement and disqualifies nearly 80% of all applicants. I thought he was exaggerating but he showed me the paper work, and sure enough, his statistics were correct.

Being able to get on your horse without assistance from another person or a mounting block is really a skill that every rider should have if they are intent on riding on a trail. If you cannot do it, then I highly recommend it, at least as a long term goal. The following are some ways to help you reach that goal:

1. Join a gym. (and go)
Horse back riding is a physical skill. It requires practice, and fitness. Get fit, get flexible, and develop the arm strength that it requires to start getting on your horse.

2. If you cannot afford a gym, then consider the following exercises:
-Find a fence like the ones seen all over stables and climb over it. Do it for about 20 repetitions and it will definitely help you develop the flexibility and the strength.
-Every time you go out to see your horse in the pasture, if the fence is strong enough, do not go through it, or through the gate. Go over it. Force yourself. It is just another chance to use all those muscles that you would use to mount your horse.
-Grab a bale of hay, and toss it over a log or a jump. Then step over the jump and toss it back. Do this 20 times a day.

3. If, in the end, you have done all these exercises and you find that you are simply too short or your horse is too tall, (take note when you buy your next horse) then consider stirrup extenders that can be purchased to help you mount your horse.

Personally, I would be afraid to ride my horse on the trail if I could not easily mount and dismount. And of course, now that I have been preaching exercise, I suppose I better get my lazy carcass out there and do it too.


ili said...

Those are some great ideas! Honestly was surprised also when you wrote about 80% but thinking about how many people i know that use a block to get up i'm not surprised anymore!
Love the idea with the exercises so easy and so effective!

Post a Comment