How to Mount A Horse

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How To Think
Like A Horse
Becoming An
Effective Rider
101 Longeing and
Long Lining Exercises
Longeing and Long Lining
English and Western
How to Think Like A Horse by Cherry Hill
Your Horse Barn DVD
Making Not Breaking by Cherry Hill
101 Longeing and Long Lining Exeercises
Longeing and Long Lining the Western Horse
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Adapted from Making Not Breaking by Cherry Hill

  2006 Cherry Hill   Copyright Information

Styles of Mounting

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 horses.

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.

How to Think Like A Horse by Cherry HillSome 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.

Experienced 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.

The First Mounting

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.

Making Not Breaking by Cherry HillWith 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.

When you 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.

Your Horse Barn DVDResist 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.


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  2008 Cherry Hill   Copyright Information

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