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Mounting Your Horse The Right Way

May 30, 2008
When a riding academy ran its instructor certification clinic, the first thing the clinician did was have all the instructor candidates mount their horses from the wrong side. The reason, she said, was to remind them what it's like to be a beginner again. Even the most experienced of the bunch was humbled by having to take a moment to think it through.

Proper mounting is an oft overlooked but very important procedure in riding. Doing it correctly mean preserving the horse's back while contributing to your safety.

Before you mount your horse, ensure that you have your helmet on securely. Make sure the harness is buckled.

You can mount your horse three different ways, all of which will be performed on the left side of the horse except in a very rare case when a horse may be blind on that side:

> A leg up (done for English riders): another rider or your instructor assists you by giving you a leg up. You will face your saddle, bend your left leg so your knee is at a 90 degree angle. The person giving you the leg up will grasp your knee and calf in both hands. The two of you will count together 1-2-3, you will bounce on your right leg on 1 and 2 and give a good bounce on 3 as though you were trying to jump up to the saddle.

On three is when the person lifts your left leg as you jump up and lightly swing your right leg over the horse's rump. Most adult beginners are uncomfortable with this method because they think the person will be handling too much of their weight; however, you can help the person giving you a leg up by counting together so you are working together, hopping on the other foot to give you lift and going with the momentum of the other person lifting you by the leg.

From the mounting block: a mounting block can be a plastic or wooden one or two step box where you will lead your horse to so that you face him on the left side while standing on the mounting block. The mounting block should be very sturdy and not shift as you step up. Using items like buckets in place of a mounting block can cause rider injury or a horse to spook if the item tips while you are standing on it.

Some horses are particularly ornery about lining up at a mounting block; if your horse is, you can ask someone for assistance by holding his bridle on the right side. You can align him on the right side, then, as you mount the mounting block on his left side, take up a little more contact on the right rein to turn his head slightly right, keeping him from swinging his hindquarters away from the block. Have your reins in your left hand placed firmly in his neck where it meets the wither.

If you are not very balanced, grab some mane in your fingers so you don't pull on the bit as you mount. Facing the saddle but with your body almost facing his rear, turn your stirrup with your right hand and place your left foot in. Grasp the cantle (back of the saddle) in your right hand. Bounce off your right foot and pull yourself up and swing your right leg over the rump without hitting him. Sit very lightly in the saddle so as not to hurt his back. Don't flop into the saddle like a sack of potatoes. Your horse isn't warmed up yet and his back could be quite sensitive. (If you notice his back drop out under you and his head shoot upward, you may have sat too hard on him.)

From the ground: you should be able to mount from the ground; however, understand that it places particularly more strain on your horse's back. To alleviate that strain, have an assistant hold down the right stirrup while you are mounting. (She will hold the stirrup in her hand and apply pressure down to the right to balance the saddle from being pulled to the left.) At the horse's shoulder, you will turn to slightly face the rear. Take your reins in your left hand and place it firmly on the horse's neck.

Grab mane in your hand to keep you from pulling on the bit as you mount. With your right hand, turn your stirrup as needed to align with your foot and place your left foot in the left stirrup. Grasp the cantle in your right hand, bounce lightly on your right leg and gently gracefully swing your left leg over the horse's hindquarters. Sit lightly and place your right foot in your right stirrup.

The reason you face toward the horse's rear is if he starts to walk off with you, you are able to turn your body to keep up with him as you're mounting instead of getting left hopping behind with one foot in a stirrup.

Now you know how to mount and are ready to learn how to ride!

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About the Author
Ron Petracek was raised in Southern Idaho with horses and the great outdoors. With this continued passion He now shares through a a vast equine network. Learn more by clicking the links below. Amazing Equine Network System - Buy Sell or trade anything equine related. Get More Horse Classified coverage and distribution with less cost and work. Award Winning Horse Forum
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