I discovered the joys of a “real” mounting block about 10 years ago when I tore my right ACL and several other key ligaments that stabilize the knee joint. After the requisite surgery, my wait to get back on a horse was going to be six or more months. But with a permanent mounting block in my future my surgeon was happy to release me at three months to get back in the saddle. That sweet day when I could swing a leg over my horse couldn’t arrive fast enough, and I was so excited for the new, sturdy mounting block my husband, Matt, was building me.
For safety reasons, every riding facility should have a sturdy mounting block. This essential piece of equipment aids riders in both mounting and dismounting, thereby preventing injuries and allowing greater riding accessibility to everyone, even kids. Plus, elevating the rider a foot or more from the ground reduces torque on your horse’s back as well as on the saddle.
The advantage of a permanent mounting block is stability; unlike a portable mounting block, which can be tippy when placed on uneven ground, a permanent mounting block is taller, easy to use, and will never be unstable. The disadvantage is its permanency, so once you have it in place, you can’t move it.
When my friend, Helyn, decided it was time to schedule her total knee replacement surgery I knew exactly what she would need as a get-well gift. I volunteered Matt, got materials together, and we built Helyn her very own permanent mounting block.
If a mounting block is in your future, here are step-by-step plans for building one.
Our 4-by-3-foot permanent mounting block has two steps. The bottom step is 2 by 3 feet by 11 inches. The top step is also 11 inches, making the whole block about 22 inches tall.
We used treated lumber, because the boards are in contact with soil and the mounting block will obviously be exposed to all types of weather (ours has lasted 10 years now and shows no signs of deterioration.)
Select a Site
Choose a location for your mounting block that will be convenient either to where you ride or where stable your horse. Because this will be a permanent installation, be sure you won’t be blocking equipment usage or creating safety issues. Will a horse stand comfortably next to it and not feel trapped? Can you get tractors, drags, or other equipment past it?
At our place we located the mounting block just outside the gate to the outdoor arena, which is also near the indoor arena. It is about 4 feet from the arena fence, which creates a slight “chute” that helps hold horses in place so they don’t swing a hip away when mounting.
Helyn chose a location inside her arena in a corner where a drag doesn’t go. She positioned the mounting block far enough from the fence on both sides so she could choose which side to mount from. She also left enough room so she could potentially use the mounting block as an obstacle and trot into the corner and around it.
The site you choose for your mounting block should be level with good, stable footing.
We used pressure-treated 2-by-6 lumber for the mounting block’s sides and 4-by-4 lumber for the corners. You will need:
- Six 2-by-6-inch-by-8-foot boards
- Two 4-by-4-inch-by-8-foot boards
- A 1-pound box of 2 ½-inch wood screws
- Fill material of crushed rock and/or sand
- Circular saw to cut the lumber
- Tape measure
- Framing square, or something to get lines straight on boards (mark where you want your cut, then use the framing square to draw a straight line across the board so the cut will be square)
- Carpenter’s level
- Power drill for attaching screws
- Spade shovel for leveling ground and digging holes for the corner legs
Construct Your Mounting Block
Purchase materials and assemble your tools, then cut the wood to the prescribed dimensions. Using the 2-by-6 boards for the sides, cut:
- Four 4-foot sections
- Eight 3-foot sections
- Four 2-foot sections
Using the 4-by-4 boards for the corner posts, cut:
- Four 26-inch posts
- Two 15-inch posts
Note: Approximately 4 inches of the 4-by-4 corner posts will extend into the ground to act as “legs” that anchor the mounting block into the ground.
Assemble the mounting block body on any level surface (we used the back of our pickup, but this can also be done off-site).
Attach two long sides to the 4-by-4 using two each of the 4-foot 4-by-6 and 2-foot 4-by-6.
Attach front and back to long slides using 3-foot pieces to finish the “box.”
Roughly level the ground at the site where you’ll be installing the mounting block.
Dig six holes, one for each of the anchor legs.
Place the assembled unit into holes, and use the carpenter’s level to ensure it sits evenly front to back and side to side.
Fill in the holes around the anchor legs to stabilize the mounting block, double-checking with the carpenter’s level as you go.
Fill in the box with crushed rock or sand.
Without the price of purchasing any equipment or the fill, the materials cost approximately $100.
Considerations for Use
Not all horses are immediately comfortable using a mounting block. Take your time familiarizing your horse with the process. and seek help if needed.
Now it’s time to mount up and ride!