How To Mount A Horse
Just as with saddling, developing good mounting technique will go a long way towards creating a willing attitude in your horse. If you want a horse that will stand quietly and willingly while you mount, you'll need to develop a mounting technique that is polite and graceful. And, even more importantly, good mounting technique is crucial for your own safety.
The most common mistake made in mounting is using your arms to pull yourself into the saddle rather than using your anchor leg and your momentum to propel yourself into the saddle.
The proper technique requires some leg strength and practice. If you can't yet master the technique, it's best to use a mounting block or other aid (i.e. a fence, stump, etc.) rather than mounting from the ground. Horses that won't stand quietly for mounting are almost always a man-made problem. Additionally, pulling yourself into the saddle will move your saddle out of position and place unnecessary wear on your horse's back.
While you can (and should) mount from either side, these directions are for mounting from the near (left) side. To mount from the off side, simply reverse "right" and "left" in the directions.1. Take the reins in your left hand and tip your horse's nose slightly to the inside. Place your left hand (with the reins in it) on the base of your horse's mane and grab a good handful of mane in your hand.
2. Facing the back of the horse with your left shoulder next to the horse's left shoulder, take a hold of the stirrup with your right hand and turn the stirrup towards you. Facing towards the back will place you in a better position in case your horse moves forward while mounting or kicks.
4. Take a few hops around so that you're facing forward and your belly button is in line with your horse's eye as shown in Photo 2. (On a younger or unpredictable horse it's best to continue facing towards the back and to turn your body around to the front as you rise off the ground.)
6. You should lift yourself straight up with all of the weight in your left stirrup and your body against the horse's body as shown in Photo 3. Use your hands (left on the mane, right on the cantle) to help balance yourself. This position let's you assess whether your horse is settled enough for you to finish mounting. A well trained horse will stand quietly while you mount as the horse in these photos is. If your horse is dancing around or bothered, you should step back down and start over.
8. Settle gently down into the saddle. Don't simply plop down with all of your weight. Keep your horse's comfort in mind.
10. Dismounting simply entails reversing the mounting process as shown in Photos 6 & 7. Remember to lift your leg high enough so that you don't hit your horse when you bring you leg over the saddle.
Practicing good mounting technique will not only communicate to your horse that you're a savvy horseman and a worthy partner, it will keep you safe.
Check out the other Western Saddle How-To's: