Why am I scared of mounting, when I am fine once I’m on?

Hi Cathy, heres a question for you…i am scared of mounting. when i’m on i’m fine. the horse i have been riding has been fine to ride, steady, doesn’t like to waste energy, he does nap badly on the way out so i stopped riding him for a while and just walked him. as a navicular rehab he needs a lot of miles to keep him sound and is better at 8 miles plus a day. i have started to take him out tacked up with the intention of riding him back but am afraid of the mounting, because my other horse would spring forward. as i say once on i am fine and have enjoyed riding this horse. i keep making excuses not to get on when we’re out, quite amazingthe excuses i come up with!

Hi and thanks for posting this question — it brought to mind the whole issue of a horse I knew who was scared of gateways

SO scared he had to rush through them then stand there heaving a sigh of relief

Once he was THROUGH the gateway he was fine — whether going into the field or coming out of the field — it was that gateway itself – he would start getting tense from far away and then rush through and come down off adrenalin afterwards

Remember what I said about if you “grit your teeth and do it anyway — it gets WORSE? ”

That’s what started happening with this horse — he got worse and worse until they decided to do something about it

Now I don’t know if the horse had ever had a bad experience with a gate — or maybe going through a gate once led to something awful — and in a real way it didn’t matter: what mattered was he had this threshold, and to get through it he had to grit his teeth — which meant every day he liked that gateway less and less

What has happened in these situations is that negative feelings have become “anchored” with the action of going through the gateway: You know how sometimes you can hear a sound, or catch a scent — and it takes you right back to a time and place and you can feel everything you felt at that time? That is an example of anchoring. When something gets anchored to something else. IT can happen intentionally — in NLP coaching we often use anchoring to give people a way to bring positive feelings back — or accidentally — like with this horse!

And with you, about mounting!

For some reason, and it really doesn’t matter why, all your anxieties and concerns have become anchored to the mounting process.

So — there ARE some techniques (such as the Collapsing Anchor technique) that an NLP coach could use with you to change this – it is also something you can change for yourself. The most straightforward way is to do exactly what you would do with the horse who is scared of gates

Find a gate, and go back and forth through it a hundred times until the horse is RELAXED about it — almost bored. Then find another gate and do the same thing. Ideally you will do this on a longer line, with you standing safely at one side of the gate and sending the horse through it like a squeeze game or like the start of a lunge circle — this will keep you safe. The first few times the horse will run through it — then gradually he will walk, then he will sigh and lick and chew –and eventually you will see no difference in his behaviour whether he is near the gate or away from it.

By doing this you have eroded the negative anchor — if you add treats when he is through and calm, you have added a positive one!

So you can do this for yourself too — find a mounting block and get help if you need it to help your horse realise this is a game. Then, paying close attention to your confidence score — step up and down on it until it is boring and you get no change in your confidence level…
Then stand on it and put your foot in and out of the stirrup until that is a 2 or 3
Then put weight in the stirrup and down again —
Then stand in the stirrup (get a friend to hold the other one so the saddle doesn’t slip!), stroke your horse, and get down again…..

When you finally swing your leg over, put it over, count to ten, then get off again — do THIS at least ten times (give your horse treats or rubs if he wonders what you are doing!)

By doing this you are resetting your anchors — this will feel a bit silly, and you need to do this on day one, the ride and have fun, then do it again on day 2, day 3 – -in fact if you make this a 7 day pattern it will work!

let us know how you get on

yours in confidence



7 thoughts on “Why am I scared of mounting, when I am fine once I’m on?

  1. In my case, physical fitness made a big improvement in anxiety about mounting. Mounting is a point of vulnerability — you’re neither on nor off!

    I lost a lot of weight and began yoga and am much more confident mounting. And MUCH improved dismounting, especially bareback.

    • You know, I had totally forgotten this aspect but you are SO right — being physically fit enough to do what we want with our horses is key — and I think you may have sparked off another post idea – thanks Jerre!

  2. I LOVE the seven day Pattern thingy it has really helped me with Malaga! I really bore myself to death sometimes and you know what? I forget my fear of the thing I was originally worried about! LoL

  3. No problem getting on but recently had a crisis about dismounting !! Right hip became very stiff & three times I caught my foot on pony’s backside & fell eek! One day I sat on board & suddenly realised I’d become frightened to get off & have never been so scared of anything before,think jelly. Friend had to push my right leg up & over for me. Have overcome it by starting to dismount western style then when both legs are on the same side of the horse free my left foot from the stirrup & hop down. Age is not funny at all,you are talking to a 5ft2in woman who in her twenties could mount a 17.2hh from the floor & jump off as easily ,now age 66 have had to make adjustments to dismount from a 13.3hh pony. Ah well at least can ride even though I can no longer jump because of the osteoporosis in my spine, sad really as jumping was my thing

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