Tips for Mounting and Dismounting a Horse
If you’ve always dreamed of riding horses, you may be in a hurry when it comes time to get on one! If you’ve never gotten on a horse before, you’ll soon realize that mounting a horse is harder and more technical than you initially thought. In this article, I’ll share step-by-step how to mount and dismount a horse so you can get on and ride!
How do you mount properly mount a horse? To easily get on a horse, follow these steps:
- Stand on the left side of your horse
- Take the reins in your left hand
- Put your left foot in the stirrup
- Lay your right hand across the saddle for support
- Stand up in the left stirrup
- Swing your right leg over the horse
- Sit down gently in the saddle
- Put your right foot in the stirrup on the right side of the horse
Wow, that’s a lot! When it comes time to try mounting a horse, it may take a few times before you feel comfortable and secure hopping on. To get a more in-depth description of how to mount and dismount a horse, keep reading!
How to Properly Mount a Horse
Mounting a Horse Step #1: Check Your Girth & Roll Down Stirrups
Before you even go to mount your horse, you always want to check the tightness of your girth or cinch. Your girth should be tight to where you can only fit four fingers between your horse and the girth. If you don’t tighten your girth and it remains loose, your saddle can slip to the side either as you’re trying to get on or as you ride around. This is a big safety hazard!
Secondly, if riding in an English saddle, roll down the stirrups on both sides of the horse. This will put the stirrups in the correct position and ready to go. Otherwise, it can be challenging to mount a horse and realize the stirrup wasn’t rolled down on the other side.
Still learning parts of the saddle? This article can help! Parts of a Saddle (English and Western With Pictures.)
Mounting a Horse Step #2: Line Your Horse Up to the Mounting Block
If you’re using a mounting block to get on your horse, the next step will be lining your horse us correctly to the mounting block. Some horses have mastered evasive maneuvers when nearing the mounting block, which makes it difficult to get on them!
To line your horse up to the mounting block, Lead them from the left side, and lead them to where they are standing with the mounting block on their left side. Bring your horse up far enough to where the stirrup is perpendicular to the middle of the mounting block. This will make it easy for you to stand on the block and put your foot in the stirrup.
Mounting a Horse Step #3: Stand on the Left Side of Your Horse
Now it’s time to start mounting your horse. You can either mount from the mounting block or mount from the ground, but either way, stand on the left side of your horse. While mounting from the left is considered the correct way to mount a horse, it is simply a tradition that dates back to knights carrying their swords on their left hip, so they would mount from the left to avoid swinging the sword over the horse.
In fact, once you’ve mastered mounting from the left, it can be good practice for you and your horse to practice mounting from the right!
Mounting a Horse Step #4: Take the Reins in Your Left Hand
Before putting your foot in the stirrup and being left to balance on a small piece of metal, you’ll want to secure your horse. Taking your reins in your left hand will give you control of your horse is they try to walk off. All that said, be sure that you’re not using your horse’s mouth for leverage as you try to get on. If you are unknowingly pulling back on the reins, you can make your horse back up. I like to take the reins and then grab the horse’s mane at the withers to keep my hand steady.
Mounting a Horse Step #5: Put Your Left Foot in the Stirrup
Now comes the technical part! As you stand beside your horse facing their withers, take your left foot and put it in the stirrup (If you were mounting from the right, this would be your right foot.) Place the stirrup on the ball of your foot to maintain a safe and proper stirrup placement.
Mounting a Horse Step #6: Touch the Right Flap of Your Saddle With Your Right Hand
Before stepping up into the stirrup and swinging over, you can use your right hand to steady and balance yourself. Placing your right hand over the saddle and touching the top right flap of the saddle will help shift your balance as needed as you get on.
Mounting a Horse Step #7: Stand Up in the Left Stirrup and Swing Your Right Leg Over
Next, stand up through your left leg in the left stirrup. Use your right hand to balance and provide extra lift to get you up. As you stand up in the left stirrup, swing your right leg back and over the horse, being sure not to accidentally kick the horse in the rump.
In the beginning, if you don’t quite have the strength to hoist yourself up, you can try a taller mounting block or even lean forward a small bit to help get your right leg back and over. Have someone around who can help you, either by holding your horse or by pushing you up if need be.
Mounting a Horse Step #8: Sit Down Gently on the Horse
Sometimes with the momentum of swinging your leg over the horse, you may find that you rather plop down on the horse’s back instead of sitting down gently. Plopping down on your horse can be uncomfortable as well as startling for your horse. For this reason, be intentional about sitting gently and quietly in the saddle.
Mounting a Horse Step #9: Put Your Right Foot in the Stirrup
Once you’ve sat down in the saddle and composed yourself, go ahead and put your right foot in the stirrup. You can do this by bending down and guiding the stirrup onto your foot with your hand, or you can find the stirrup with the toe of your boot and place your foot there.
How to Properly Dismount a Horse
Now that you know how to properly get on a horse, how do you get off?? While riding for the first time is a blast, and you may think that you would never want to get off the horse, the truth is that after an hour of riding for the first time, you’ll probably be sore and realize that it’s time to call it a day! (To learn more about why you may be sore, check out my article Muscles Used for Horseback Riding: Complete Guide.)
Follow these steps to properly dismount from a horse:
Dismounting a Horse Step #1: Take Your Right Foot Out of the Stirrup
When getting off a horse, follow the steps for mounting a horse, but put them in reverse. Bring your horse to a standstill and take your right foot out of the stirrup. This will allow you to swing your right leg over the horse when it’s time to dismount.
Dismounting a Horse Step #2: Stand Up Using Your Left Stirrup
With your right foot out of the stirrup, stand up in your left stirrup. This may initially be hard to do if you haven’t had the time to build up the core strength that horseback riding requires. A good exercise to practice to help you balance in your stirrups and build your core strength is to stand straight up in both your stirrups. You can do this at a standstill, walk, and trot once you’ve gotten really good!
Dismounting a Horse Step #3: Swing Your Right Leg Over the Horse
Once you’re standing in your left stirrup, this will give you the room to swing your right leg back over to the left side of the horse. Once again, if you initially have trouble with this, you can lean the top half of your body toward the left to help get your leg over.
Dismounting a Horse Step #4: Hold Yourself Up and Take Your Left Foot Out of the Stirrup
Once you’ve got both legs over on the left side of the horse, your left foot should still be in the stirrup while your right foot dangles freely. You should be leaning over your horse’s back and propping yourself up with your arms. Before sliding down to the ground, remove your left foot from the stirrup so both your feet will be free.
Trying to drop to the ground with your foot still in the stirrup can cause you to pull a muscle or even fall back. This will ensure you have a smooth way down!
Dismounting a Horse Step #5: Slide Down the Side of the Horse, Pushing Yourself Away
Now it’s time to get both feet back on the ground! You can slide down your horse’s side, pushing yourself away from the horse to avoid tugging on the horse’s back or startling them once you hit the ground. You’ve made it!
As I mentioned at the beginning of the article, mounting and dismounting a horse can seem very technical with many steps if you’re new to it. If you’re more of a visual learner, check out the video down below where I walk you through each step:
Want to get on your horse but they walk away every time you try to mount up? Visit my article My Horse Walks Off While Mounting: How to Correct It.