Mounting Techniques for Back Pain Management in Ex-Racehorses


"In Training Horses, One Trains Himself." - Antoine De Pluvinel


The are many benefits of using the mounting block for horses. The general consensus is the higher-the-block-the-better. It's ideal to mount from a high mounting block (three steps or higher) without using the stirrup iron.

The reason for this approach is a minimal amount of pressure and strain is placed on the horse's back and there is less stress on the alignment of the spine.

Of course,  this technique isn't ideal for every situation, but it's considered ideal for the health of the horse's back and spine.

This post shows some basic and fundamental tips for training your off-the-track-thoroughbred to properly stand while being mounted to reduce stress on the spine as well as back pain management.

Ex-racehorses coming from adoption organizations will most likely be trained to stand properly while being mounted. However, if you are getting your horse directly off-the-track they'll need proper training for to be mounted on the block.

The First Steps:  

  • Teach your OTTB to stand - they should demonstrate the ability to stand quietly and patiently anywhere, whether it is in the arena, stall or at the cross ties–until you ask or initiate movement. 
  • Desensitize at the mounting block - let the horse interact with it by sniffing or licking at it. Do activities with the block by tapping, moving or rocking it, so your horse is comfortable and identifies it as a "non-spooky" object.
  • Stand and Wait at the mounting block - lead your horse and have them stand and patiently wait beside it. Hold the reins or lead rope (have someone to assist if necessary) and start to walk up the steps of the mounting block. 
  • Apply light pressure - lean your body against the horse lightly and make sure they don't bulk at pressure. Once they stand start applying pressure to the stirrups and mount.
  • Stand after mounted - ask your horse to stand after you are mounted. They shouldn't move forward until you ask them to move forward. This keeps the horse from developing any bad habits, like walking off immediately after mounted.


An important part of training your horse  is about getting their trust and respect by establishing yourself as a leader. You have to know what you want from the horse and ask clearly.

Pay attention to how they respond. "Listen" by observing their behavior and physical responses when you ask them to stand.

If they are relaxed and willing to do what you ask, praise often and/or reward with treats 🍏🥕. 

If you start to have mounting issues with horse and they exhibit behavior like:

  • Pacing back and forth
  • Pushing against you
  • Backing up
  • Circling around
  • Walking off before commanded
  • Bucking
  • Rearing
  • Biting

My suggestion is to call your veterinarian and have your horse thoroughly examined for any underlying physical issues that could cause the behavioral reactions.

To learn more training tips and holistic techniques to help your horse achieve peak performance and improve range of motion–get your free guide: Three Essential Exercises and start developing a more balanced and supple horse, today.

For more information on the research that's been done about mounting techniques and pressure, download the PDF here  from Saddle Research Trust.


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