For fifteen years I resided in The Land of Giants.
Or the north of England as it is now more popularly known. ?Obviously, this is a purely subjective perspective, but it must be noted that when I lived in Huddersfield all my friends were considerably taller than me. ?I was forever having someone place a pint glass on my head or use my bonce as an elbow rest. Overly maternal female friends would grab me and hug me and accidentally suffocate me in their ample bosom. ?Frequently I would be thrown over a shoulder and carried off or picked up by the back of my jeans before being spun around in a parody of the bizarre field sport The Hammer Throw. ?Generally speaking they did not actually throw me. ?Not on purpose, anyway.
I now live in Lilliput (aka France) and feel positively Brobdingnagian in comparison.? French people are short. ?Just like the Welsh. ?And at 5’2″ I am tall for a Taffesse. ?I have even been asked by Frenchwomen to hand them an item from the top shelf in the supermarket!! ?Whooo!! Result!
Unfortunately, my new status as Giantess has limitations.? A seventeen hands high horse is still 17hh regardless of which side of the water you live on. ?Only now it is called 172.72 cms and still requires something to stand on if you don’t? want an accompanying sound track of children sniggering.
I was so pleased when the use of mounting blocks became the norm again.? I have always winced when I have seen larger riders nearly pull their horses off their hooves when mounting and was sure my mountineering efforts were not that much better even though I weigh only a little more than one of my dogs.
I have developed several techniques over the years, however, they are far from perfect and are about as graceful as filling a haynet with only one arm.? My default option goes something like this:
Stage one – stand next to the horse.
Stage two – lengthen the stirrup to maximum, find my balance, stumble a bit then find my balance again, bring my foot up to face-level and poke my toe into the stirrup iron, bounce more than is strictly necessary, ping into the air and arrive standing with my little boobs (boobettes?) in the vicinity of the saddle.? Still standing in the stirrup I am now where most people are at stage one.
Stage three – this is where I am eternally grateful for having strong arms.? Emulating the correct gymnastic “front support mount” of a balance beam (I know this is correct because I just googled it) I grip the saddle and (keeping eyes focussed forwards a bit like in showjumping) push my body up onto the beam, I mean saddle.
Stage four – and here I have simply copied and pasted from the gymnastics site – slightly lean forward in order to keep your balance and push your body up higher. While doing so, bring a straight leg over the beam, resting in a straddle position
Read more at: http://gymnastics.isport.com/gymnastics-guides/balance-beam-mounts-for-gymnastics
As I said, not perfect.? And not always appropriate either.? This default option does assume you are about to mount a horse who is very patient and who’s only reaction will be to sigh a bit and maybe look embarrassed.? You can see his facial expression clearly says:? “Mother!? Do you really have to do this where my friends can see me?”
I have other methods.
Big rocks or walls.?These are so handy.? As were the permanent mounting blocks that used to be seen in rural communities.? I am sure they still exist.
But unless you are the willy-exposing Atlas in the piccie above you have to be able to align a movable animal with an immovable wall.? And the hotter the breed the greater the potential difficulty.? You cannot move the wall because it is fixed.? You cannot get the horse to stand still because it wants to go.? You have to remain calm because if you don’t you run the risk of discovering an applied meaning to The Irresistible Force Paradox.? Formulated as what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object and I am in the middle of the two.? I find learning to A-frame is a good compromise.? Or co-ordinating putting your toe in the stirrup just as he comes into toe-putting distance and leaping on and GO!? If any of you have ex-racehorses you know what I mean.
Or upturned (empty, one hopes) bins.? Though you must remember to keep your weight on the stronger plastic around the rim and not in the middle.? You could end up at the Stage One detailed above but with a hard plastic bin-like skirt.? Not a good look.? This method does require a good aim.? By which I mean you do need a horse who will stop in the right place and stay there.? Especially important if you need to remove a broken bin from your person.
Ditches are really good for when you have to get off for whatever reason when out on a ride then need to get back on your monstously big horse.? You cannot always rely on there being a handy rock or wall and, nowadays, bins are either of the wheely variety or, quite frankly, of inferior quality – crap, in fact.? Most horses will enter a ditch with no problem if you ask nicely and in a way that they understand.? I find it best to just let them graze nearer and nearer.? And nearer still until they are in it up to their knees and oblivous to the fact that was what you wanted all along.? A bit like in a marriage, I suppose.
And the good old-fashioned leg-up.? Administered by someone who does not have a clue and just throws you over the horse where you land in a heap on the other side.
Oooo!? You’re strong.? Are you single?? Like horses?? Could you learn to?? Do you have a problem with me keeping my saddles, rugs, brushes and the odd shetland pony in the kitchen?? You do?