How to mount a horse

ArticleHow to - General Equine AdviceThursday 22 September 2011
by W Honeywood
One of the first things anyone who wants to ride has to do is to learn how to mount their horse or pony. This should always be done from a mounting block but there will be occasions when you just have to mount from the ground, so learning how to do this safely is very important. 
The reasons behind using a mounting block as being preferable than horse mounting from the ground are that firstly, it does make it a lot easier for the rider to get on their mount. Secondly and rather more importantly, it puts less strain on the horses’ back and the stirrup leathers. 
It goes without saying that before even attempting to mount a horse either from a mounting block or from the ground, the first thing a rider must do is check that the girth is done up tightly enough. If you don’t the saddle will end up slipping sideways as you put pressure on your stirrup iron as you mount and this can lead to all sorts of problems.
Horse mounting is always done from the ‘near side’ of a horse or pony which is the horses’ left side. If you are using a mounting block you need to take the reins in your left hand and whilst facing the side of your horse with the saddle directly in front you, take hold of the pommel with your left hand then turn to face the rear of your horse and slip your left foot in the stirrup iron whilst holding it with your right hand. 
Make sure that you turn the stirrup iron towards you in a clockwise direction. Place the ball of your foot on the stirrup iron and then with your right hand hold the cantle before swinging your right leg over the saddle and then very lightly sit down on your horses’ back. It is very important to sit down gently on your mount’s back and not just plonk yourself down in the saddle. 
Once you are in the saddle make sure you turn your right stirrup iron clockwise and slip your right foot into it. Next check that your girth is tight enough by lifting your right leg forward towards the horses’ head and try to slide your right hand between the horse and the girth, if you can do this then you need to tighten your girth before setting out on your ride. 
Once you are satisfied that the girth is tight enough you can then gather up your reins in both hands ready for the start of your ride or lesson.
The photograh in this article is of an old mounting block taken by Ray Woodcraft.
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