Mounting and Dismounting Best Practice

  1. What defines and drives Best Practice?
    • The Law - Health & Safety at Work Act and Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992
    • Minimise risk to all involved (rider, leader, sidewalkers, horse etc)
    • Good assessments
    • Good planning and recording
    • Good performance ie: good mounting and dismounting technique
    • Good reassessment - did it work well, can we improve?
  2. The essence of the law is to reduce risk - plan - record - carry out action - reassess
  3. When carrying out assessments the regulations give a clear framework to guide you - consider the task, the load, the environment, the individual capability and 'other factors'.
    • The Task - eg: getting from bus onto pony
    • The load - the riders weight, height, disability, behavioural problems, clothing, any appliances?
    • The environment - what mounting facilities are available, is it a quiet place or chaotic?, the surfaces, does weather affect the mounting procedure
    • Individual capability - the helpers, are they well trained and efficient, do they have any health issues, are they consisten
  4. Once you have done an assessment you need to record it and plan a mounting procedure. For straightforward riders just a tick box or similar is sufficient but for more complex riders the assessment must be written up and the plan for mounting justified
  5. The choice is Lifting on, using a mounting block, using a raised platform (either ramp and platform or a hydraulic platform) or a hoist
    • Lifting on - only for very small children onto very small ponies at the lifters chest height (no reaching up or stooping down). Never the method of choice and must be justified
    • From a block - mounting from the ground is not to be encouraged. Consider size of block, material it is made from, height in relation to saddle,
    • From a platform - consider design, area for rider plus at least 2 helpers and a chair, height in relation to saddle (useful to have additional block which can be put onto platform for bigger horses), safety rails on one side, open edge to be clearly marked with lip or painted line
    • Hoisting for those who cannot weightbear and transfer through standing from a platform. Can be overhead tracking hoist or from a fixed point , hydraulic or electric, various designs of slings or handimove attachments, must have well trained horses, well trained helpers/staff, needs regular, frequent inspection and servicing. Beware of overloading horses and taking riders who really should not be riding. Consider very carefully and get advice!
  6. Methods of mounting from a block or platform
    • Conventional unaided
    • Conventional with assistance - keeping left foot and knee secure to allow a spring up, assisting the spring, assisting right leg over
    • Direct step over from a platform if the height is correct
    • Sit backwards onto saddle and swing legs up to horses neck and then separate legs - important to have height of block/platform relative to saddle correct
    • Lifted - manual or mechanical
  7. Dismounting. Always to ground if possible. Occasionally it is necessary to transfer directly to platform but this must be recorded and justified
  8. Methods of dismounting
    • Conventional - encourage to lean forward to the right (off side) as this facilitates the rotation needed
    • Right leg over withers, roll onto tummy and then slide down
    • Lifting - as with mounting, only very small children off small ponies at chest height but not to be encouraged. Or lifting off with a hoist
  9. Challenges to best practice
    • Local authorities, teachers, parents who think they know best
    • RDA helpers who think they know best
    • Lack of facilities - in which case DO NOT accept the rider until such time as suitable facilities are in place
    • Lack of knowledge or experience - get help from RDA personnel, Physiotherapists
The riding instructor is in charge of the ride. He/she must have a professional manner and take authority. He/she knows the horses and facilities and must do a thorough assessment and then justify decisions made when challenged - but always be prepared to ask for help and advice.