The Modern Art of Taming Wild Horses/Chapter 18


First gentle him well on both sides, about the saddle, and all over, until he will stand still without holding, and is not afraid to see you anywhere about him.

As soon as you have him thus gentled, get a small block, about one foot or eighteen inches in height, and set it down by the side of him, about where you want to stand to mount him; step up on this, raising yourself very gently: horses notice every change of position very closely, and, if you were to step up suddenly on the block, it would be very apt to scare him; but, by raising yourself gradually on it, he will see you, without being frightened, in a position very nearly the same as when you are on his back.

As soon as he will bear this without alarm, untie the stirrup-strap next to you, and put your left foot into the stirrup, and stand square over it, holding your knee against the horse, and your toe out, so as to touch him under the shoulder with the toe of your boot. Place your right hand on the front of the saddle, and on the opposite side of you, taking hold of a portion of the mane and the reins, as they hang loosely over his neck, with your left hand; then gradually bear your weight on the stirrup, and on your right hand, until the horse feels your whole weight on the saddle: repeat this several times, each time raising yourself a little higher from the block, until he will allow you to raise your leg over his croup and place yourself in the saddle.

There are three great advantages in having a block to mount from. First, a sudden change of position is very apt to frighten a young horse who has never been handled: he will allow you to walk up to him, and stand by his side without scaring at you, because you have gentled him to that position; but if you get down on your hands and knees and crawl towards him, he will be very much frightened; and upon the same principle, he would be frightend at your new position if you had the power to hold yourself over his back without touching him. Then the first great advantage of the block is to gradually gentle him to that new position in which he will see you when you ride him.

Secondly, by the process of leaning your weight in the stirrups, and on your hand, you can gradually accustom him to your weight, so as not to frighten him by having him feel it all at once. And, in the third place, the block elevates you so that you will not have to make a spring in order to get on the horse's back, but from it you can gradually raise yourself into the saddle. When you take these cautions, there is no horse so wild but what you can mount him without making him jump. I have tried it on the worst horses that could be found, and have never failed in any case. When mounting, your horse should always stand without being held. A horse is never well broken when he has to be held with a tight rein when mounting; and a colt is never so safe to mount as when you see that assurance of confidence, and absence of fear, which cause him to stand without holding.