How to Mount a Horse

It’s your first day out at a new barn for lessons. This is such a fun and exciting time, but I bet you’re nervous. What will the other kids think about the newbie? I’m here to help. You might be new to the horse world, and you feel like there is so much to learn and you’re afraid of embarrassing yourself. If you feel that way, don’t worry, because you’re right. The equine world is huge, and there is a lot that goes into becoming a good horseman. You’re a step ahead already just by knowing that. You will have your fair share of embarrassing and humbling moments, but that is what will make you the best. 

So, how am I going to make your first day a little easier? I am going to help make you an expert in mounting a horse. You’ll look like a real pro when you get on for the first time.  

Now, you may have a trainer help you through the process, but I am here to tell you how to do it on your own. They will be so impressed with your knowledge.  

You probably already know the first step – catch the horse. The horse you are using may be in a stall or a pasture, but the process is pretty much the same. Grab a halter and lead rope, walk up to the horse, and put it on. Now you can lead the horse to where you will be tacking it up. This might be a hitching post, cross ties, or somewhere else. Here, you will get the horse ready to ride.  

You might already know the next few steps. Getting the horse ready to saddle will take a couple of minutes. Grooming and getting to know the horse is always an important job before you tack up and get on. You’ll want to brush your horse well in order to keep it comfortable once you put a saddle on. Any debris that may be under the saddle or cinch could cause an unruly horse. 

Once the horse is ready to ride, it’s time to get up in the saddle. The part we’ve all been waiting for. Where should you begin? There are a couple of ways to go about mounting your horse. Some people may use a mounting block, and some will mount from the ground. Some will have a person on the ground holding the horse while they get on, and others will hold the horse themselves. All of these options are relatively similar processes, but let’s discuss them all.  

There are a couple of things to keep in mind when mounting a horse. Most experienced horses will stand nicely for you to get on and leave you little to worry about. If you are mounting a younger or more inexperienced horse, you will have to be a little more cautious.  

First things first, which side should you get on? Most horses are taught to mount from either side, but many horses are taught to mount from their left side. Just to be safe, let’s assume you’re mounting from the left side.  

You will want to mount a horse that isn’t moving around. To do this, you can have someone hold the horse for you, or you will need to know how to hold the horse on your own. If you are on your own, you will want to hold the reins in one hand. Standing on the left side of the horse, next to or slightly behind the shoulder, grab the reins with your left hand. Don’t put any pressure on them unless the horse tries to move. If it tries to move, put a little bit of pressure pulling back on the reins to attempt to make the horse stop. Once they stop, release the pressure. Now, while you’re holding the rein, you will raise your left foot and place it in the stirrup. If you need to, use your right hand to hold the stirrup in place.  

You will want to put your foot in the stirrup just far enough so that the ball of your foot is on the bottom. This is where your feet will sit while you ride, and it will give you the most leverage while getting on. If you are mounting a tall horse, this can seem kind of difficult, but you will get the hang of it.  

Now, while your left hand is holding the rein, and your left foot is in the stirrup, you will swing yourself up using your left foot to push off of. Sometimes you will need a little hop or two on your right foot to give you a little momentum. If you need a little help, you can grab the horn with your right hand on the way up to help pull yourself on. Some riders might try to hold the horn, along with the reins, in their left hand while holding the back of the saddle with their right to help pull them on. This can be effective, but you will temporarily lose the ability to control the horse will you are holding the horn.  

While you are getting on, you will swing your right leg over the saddle while setting your behind in the seat of the saddle. Once you’re set, you will put your right foot into the other stirrup. Again, you might need to reach down to assist in getting your foot in. You will want this foot to be just as far in the stirrup as your other foot. Make sure not to let go of the reins during this process. You never know when the horse might move, and you don’t want to lose the ability to stop it by not having the reins in your hand. Once your feet are in, you’re ready! 

If you have someone to hold the horse for you, you can do the same process, but you will not need to hold the reins. You won’t have to worry about controlling the horse and keeping it from moving.  

Before, I mentioned that people may use a mounting block to get on. Many English type disciplines will use a mounting block because the horses can often be taller, and the stirrups higher. These saddles also don’t have a horn to hold when you get on.  

A mounting block is like a step stool for mounting a horse. You will mount the same as you would from the ground, it just may be easier because the distance isn’t quite so far. Often people use these when they struggle to get on from the ground. This can be because of a tall horse or diminished physical abilities of the rider. If you are a new rider, you may prefer to use a block until you get better at mounting.  

Now that you know how to mount your horse, I want to remind you to keep your horse in mind. I know that sounds obvious, but you will be putting a lot of pressure on a very sensitive part of the horse. When you mount a horse, especially from the ground, you put a lot of pressure on the withers. Because of this, you should make mounting a swift, but gentle motion. You will get better with time. It can help to lean in close to the horse while you get on. Keep your weight over the horse so you are distributing your weight more evenly over the saddle. Your horse will appreciate it. 

Now you are equipped with all of the knowledge you need to have a great first day at your new barn.