Tia and the mounting block
Marian van der Zon: "When Tia-Jewel came to the farm 3.5 years ago, at 12 years of age, she'd been through at least 5 different owners and had anxiety about a lot of stuff. Standing still while mounting was one of them. It's likely she had poor fitting saddles or was regularly ridden hard and suffered from pain afterwards.
We'll never really know, but she was evasive when mounting, and that's dangerous. Over time, with patience and consistency on our part, she's become solid when mounting from the ground.
Then we went to work on the mounting block. Numerous times now, we've gotten her to a place where she's solid and feels grounded next to the mounting block. I can get on and off, repeatedly, while she stays solid. "
The photo bellow was taken in the fall 2021. Tia would regularly ask to have a discussion at the mounting block before letting us get in the saddle. She'd fidget, nip, bob her head, and position her back as far as possible from the rider standing on the block until the rider grounds and encourages her to ground and relax as well. Over the years, Marian developed exercises that involve walking up and down the mounting block from both sides, jumping and stomping on top of it, or getting on and off Tia repeatedly while she stands quietly. But the most important element is communication. Sometimes all Tia wanted was her mamma's attention and love. As soon as she got that, we were good to ride.
Marian van der Zon: "Then things shift, the cycle turns, and we have to refresh the whole thing, reframe it again, reminding her that we're only here to have fun and connect. And most of our riding is physiotherapy riding with stretching afterwards, so she's been rebuilding a positive association.
Mostly for me, it's patience. And allowing any shifts that need to happen in my energy, losing any of my anxiety coming in from life, so that we can both ground and be calm in the process. Once that's done, it doesn't usually take much time, and we're back on track in a couple minutes."
"[In the first photo, above] you can see me moving her into place. The second [photo, bellow] was taken after getting on. You can see that she's engaged, yet calm. And that was our goal. Training horses almost always brings my own nervous system into a calmer state, parasympathetic state, allowing more of life's joys to flow in. Always grateful for my Equine teachers."