Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Resistance to Mounting

Code Yellow - Contact Your Vet at Your Convenience for an Appointment

Code Yellow - Contact Your Vet at Your Convenience for an Appointment

  • To rule out physical issues that may be causing the problem.
  • Some vets have valuable advice regarding behavioral and training issues.

A horse’s refusal to allow you to mount is a highly undesirable behavior that needs to be resolved. Discomfort plays a role in the resistance. Think about the torque placed on the back when a person mounts a horse. We need to try to minimize that always.

Horses are taught to refuse a mount in the same way they are taught to engage in many other unwanted behaviors. They perceive the behavior to be easier and more rewarding than alternative (desirable) behaviors.

Like many other evasive habits, this behavior can be a response to pain. Poor mounting technique causes discomfort and encourages horses to resist mounting. A variety of physical conditions may cause a horse to resist mounting including back pain, ill-fitting saddle or tack, and even lameness due to undiagnosed injury. Your vet can help you determine whether this behavior is a result of physical pain.


If a physical cause is ruled out, look to yourself, your own mounting/riding technique, and others who have handled your horse as both the cause of the problem and the solution. Assess your saddle fit and mounting technique. Put as little twisting torque on the saddle as possible as you mount. Put absolutely no pressure on the head or mouth unless the horse begins to move off. Keep pressure in the stirrup if the horse begins to move off, but check the horse with the bit. Keep a “sanctuary of comfort” for the horse that allows mounting. That is a balance between making the mounting process as comfortable as possible, while making the act of moving off uncomfortable (pressure on the bit).

Engage a trainer who knows how to work through this behavior. Beyond seeking a physical cause, your vet may or may not have an interest in helping your horse overcome this behavior.


Your vet may observe the behavior, your technique, the horse’s back and your tack and try to determine a cause.

Helpful Terms & Topics in HSVGWritten, Reviewed or Shared by Experts in Equine Health

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP


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