If you’re thinking of getting a pony, or you have a new pony that you want to ride, for the first time it’s a good idea to know how to calm and reassure your pony, see the signs of a nervous pony, and learn a step by step guide to how to mount a pony for the first time. If this sounds like you, hang on for the ride and we’ll tell you everything you need to know to have you riding your new pony.
Learn About Your Pony
If you want to successfully mount and ride your pony, you’ll need to bond with it. There are many simple ways to bond with your pony, but they all require time and attention. You need to be willing to commit to your pony, because they need to trust you in order to bond with you.
Horses are notoriously anxious animals, especially when it comes to change of any kind. A horse can be scared by strange objects, unfamiliar situations, new places, a new rider, unfamiliar animals, or any other situation that they aren’t comfortable and familiar with.
Start bonding with your pony by doing simple things, such as:
- Walk your pony to graze
- Brush your pony all over with a body brush
- Talk in a soft, gentle tone to your pony
- Rub your pony in long, smooth strokes from mid-belly to mid-back
- Ensure you start a schedule with your pony. Do activities at the same time every day to help set up a schedule for your pony.
While you’re probably eager to ride your pony, you should know how to recognize stress and anxiety in your pony. This is vital to successfully riding, and to prevent injuries from occurring. If you are able to pick up on your pony becoming anxious early, you can quickly calm your horse and safely continue riding.
The important thing to remember with your pony is to look for signs of stress and anxiety. Some signs that a horse is stressed are:
- Stall Walking
- Eye Rolling
- Backing into a Corner
If your pony begins to exhibit any of these behaviors, you should immediately stop and locate the source of the stress. Remain calm, and speak to your pony in a soothing, even voice so that it doesn’t raise your pony’s anxiety level.
If you can, redirect your pony’s attention so that it is no longer focused on the stresser. If you have to, dismount and begin to stroke your pony if you find that your touch helps to calm them.
Let’s Start The Ride
Now, let’s get to the exciting part. It’s time to mount your pony! Since you’ve earned your pony’s trust, and know the signs of stress to look for, you can safely climb on and take a ride. Let’s break this into simple steps:
Wear Your Safety Equipment When Mounting a Pony
You should always wear a helmet when riding. You also need to protect your feet by wearing a good pair of boots. Don’t endanger your life by skipping your safety gear.
Pick a Calm, Uneventful Time and day
It shouldn’t be anywhere near feeding time. Try to ensure that there isn’t anything stressful taking place within sight of your pony. This will help ensure your pony can remain calm and focus on what is expected of it. Don’t choose a rainy day, or any other type of inclement weather. You want to keep the possibility of your pony being spooked to a minimum by reducing the number of possible stressful outside factors.
If you’ve been on a schedule with your pony as suggested earlier, this should be the time you elect to mount your pony for the first time. This should help keep your pony calm by making the riding feel familiar instead of new and stressful. Overall, give the immediate area a glance, and if anything looks like it could cause your pony to spook, correct the situation before attempting to mount your pony.
Have an Experienced Ground Person – How to Mount a pony for the First Time
You ideally should have someone experienced with riding and familiar to your pony to assist you on the ground while you ride. Your ground person is used to help calm and hold your pony. They could also assist in mounting and dismounting so that it is performed smoothly and doesn’t increase your pony’s anxiety level. Try to have someone that your pony is comfortable with so it doesn’t cause another stress factor for your pony.
Prepare your tack
Ensure you have all your supplies ready to ease the preparation stage. This includes your saddle, saddle blanket, brindle and bit, and your stirrups. Take your time getting everything comfortably placed on your pony, and give your pony plenty of time to get used to the feeling of his new supplies. If anything seems to cause your pony discomfort, correct its’ placement before attempting to mount your pony.
Move Into Position Beside Your Pony
You need an open space that doesn’t feel cramped, and isn’t going to appear that your pony is backed into a corner. There should be adequate room for you to mount your pony, plus room for your mounting block to be placed, yet still not feel cramped. You might think it will be easier to keep your pony still in a smaller space, but it will actually spook him more by being in a tightly enclosed space. Once you have the spot selected, walk your pony slowly out, allowing it to get completely comfortable with the area and surroundings.
Place Your Mounting Block Next to Your Pony
Your mounting block is a two step platform that aids you in reaching your horse without needing to hang all of your body weight off your horse. This greatly reduces the stress to your horses back while mounting, and will also make mounting a more comfortable and relaxed activity.
You should teach your horse to stand still next to the mounting block. If your pony moves away from the mounting block while you’re preparing to mount, gently tell him “whoa” and, if necessary, lead it back to the proper place beside the mounting block.
The mounting block should be directly under the stirrup. Your ground person should be nearby to hold the horse steady if necessary.
Left Front leg Location
You need to be next to the left front leg in order to properly mount your pony. Once you’re sure of your placement, grab the reins. After ensuring the pony isn’t going to move, put your left foot in the stirrup, then swing your leg over the horse slowly. Be sure you don’t kick or graze your horse with your foot, and move as slowly as possible so there is no startling. Slowly and smoothly, sit down on the saddle.
Make any necessary posture adjustments at this point. Also, adjust your stirrup length if needed, and ensure the reins are the correct length.
Any weight adjustments should be performed at this time to ensure a smooth ride once you start to ride. Allow your ground person to get into position and prepare to start riding.
Keep Your Eye on Your Pony
While riding, keep your eye on your pony to catch any signs of stress. Some of the visible signs of stress your pony might show are:
- A tight, raised back
- A tightly clamped tail
- An elevated head with wide eyes
- Any backing rapidly or spinning
If any of the stress signs are visible, stop the ride and calm your pony before carrying on. You should also keep an eye out for anything that can startle your horse while you’re riding. Try to avoid any unnecessary exertion, and choose a simple path to ride for the first several rides, until both you and your pony feel comfortable riding tougher courses.
Squeeze and Steering a Pony
When you’re fully confident that you and your pony are ready to go, squeeze the horses’ sides with your legs to urge it to start moving. You may want to give a verbal command as well, depending on how your pony is trained. If it still doesn’t move, try gently kicking with your heel into its side, just enough to prod it to move, not with enough force to injure your pony.
Your pony should naturally feel the direction that you’re wanting to go because of the movement of your muscles on the saddle. As long as you’re looking in the direction you want to head, and moving your body subtly to steer along with holding the reins, you shouldn’t need to pull on the reins much at all while riding. Of course, when you need to stop, give a verbal “whoa”, and pull back on the reins if your pony doesn’t stop at the verbal command.
You have achieved your goal: how to mount a pony for the first time. You and your pony are officially riding. Keep it up, at least four times weekly to ensure your pony gets adequate exercise and training. Work your way from simple courses to more challenging rides, and you and your pony will enjoy plenty of relaxing rides for many years to come.
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