2006 Cherry Hill ©
Over the years, young horses
have been safely mounted in a variety of ways. Choose the style of mounting that
you can perform most easily and safely. Don't change your style of mounting the
day of the first ride because so-and-so says it is the only way to mount young
You can mount young horses the
same way you do experienced horses: face the opposite direction the horse is facing,
put your left foot in the stirrup, bounce on your right leg while rotating on
your left foot in the stirrup. Rotate toward the horse, then forward, rising on
the second bounce. If you are accustomed to this method, it will work well for
you. In the unlikely even that a horse begins to move off, you will tend to be
swung up into the saddle as he moves forward. This style of mounting is safe when
used following a thorough restraint and ground training program.
riders prefer to approach mounting with the aid of a handler on the end of a lead
rope. If working with a very sensitive, rather spooky horse you may wish to consider
this method. The rider might get a leg up from yet another assistant so that the
rider can lay over the horse's back without a foot in the stirrup. The rider then
slides down, gets another leg up, and continues until the horse is relaxed enough
to allow the rider to swing a leg over and sit up.
riders who spend less time on ground training or are starting broncy or spoiled
young horses may prefer to mount differently. In this case, mount facing the same
direction as the horse. Place only the toe of your boot in the stirrup so that
if the horse takes off, your foot comes out of the stirrup easily. Often the reins
or lead rope are held rather snug with the horse's nose tipped to the left. In
some cases the rider might even hold onto the sidepiece of a halter which the
young horse wears under its bridle. This may give a trainer more control in some
situations but it does tend to throw a horse off balance. With a thorough ground
training program, however, you should be able to allow a young horse to stand
square and straight when you step up on him for the first time.
If you are using split
reins, tie them together in a knot about eight inches from where you will hold
them. With your horse squared up, tell him "WHOA", then turn to stand
alongside his near side. Take the reins and a portion of his mane near the withers
in your left hand. If you have done a thorough job of restraint, you will not
have to use a tight rein to prevent him from moving forward. However, even with
a seemingly very quiet horse, have some degree of even contact on the reins because
if the horse is suddenly startled and darts forward you don't want to have to
paw through a lot of leather before you can make contact with his mouth.
your right hand, present the stirrup to your left foot. Place your left foot securely
on the tread, keeping the left side of your body and your left knee as close to
the horse's body as possible. That way your knee can act as a pivot point as you
swing up to mount. This will decrease your tendency to pull the saddle off center
(toward you) as you mount. Bouncing two times seems to provide enough momentum
so that you can get up quickly without twisting. Another helpful hint in this
regard is not to grab the horn or cantle to pull yourself up but rather place
your right hand on the off swell of the saddle. Push off to the right and downward
on the swell as you make your final rise and let your palm swivel as you swing
over onto the saddle. This will help keep saddle slippage to a minimum.
If you find the horse skeptical about being mounted, just step up into the stirrup,
bounce a few times, take your foot out of the stirrup, and walk to his head and
tell him everything is OK. If you sense that the horse may be touchy about weight
on his back, you can step into the left stirrup, rise, and lean over the saddle
keeping both legs on the near side. For safety, once you have leaned over the
saddle like this, slip your left foot out of the stirrup, so that when you need
to, you can just slide down.
are ready to swing your right leg over, keep your right knee straight so that
you don't bump it on the horse's croup or the cantle. Settle your weight into
the saddle softly by using your abdominals and the thigh muscles of your left
leg to gradually let yourself down. Don't land with a thud or you might be off
running! And don't grope wildly for the right stirrup with a flailing right leg
or don't lean over to grab it. I've seen riders' over-concern for finding the
right stirrup be the cause of young horses' anxiety. When a horse feels the rider's
leg fluttering around looking for the stirrup, he may walk off or spook. Just
sit in a balanced position with your legs off the horse's ribs for the time being.
the temptation of leaning forward to pet your horse on the neck as this will put
you in a vulnerable, off-balance position. And if the horse is startled by you
leaning forward, he may raise his head or neck suddenly and bop you on the nose.
If you feel the urge to reassure your horse that all is well, say something in
a pleasant tone and give him a scratch on the withers. Use one word or a short
phrase. A lot of talking at this time can be confusing, especially if the young
horse has been trained to voice commands during ground work. Sit quietly, well
balanced, and deep in the saddle - the safest position to be in if something exciting
does happen. If you are on an especially sensitive horse, you may wish to spend
the majority of the first lesson mounting and dismounting. Or you may want to
work the horse a little and then practice the mounting and dismounting at the
end of the lesson.
In either event,
eventually you have to take your right stirrup. Repeat the command "WHOA"
as you carefully hook the off stirrup with the toe of your boot. If at any time
your horse reacts to your movements by walking off, use your voice command "WHOA"
with a very light lifting of the reins.
Be safe and have a good ride.