How to Mount a Horse

Three Methods:Getting Your Horse ReadyClimbing Onto Your HorseMounting with a Leg-up

The first step to a good ride is a proper mount. Keep both yourself and your horse safe and happy by following the correct mounting procedure. In a few simple steps, you'll be sitting in the saddle with perfect posture and rearing to go for a great ride.

Method 1
Getting Your Horse Ready

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    Move your horse into position. Walk your horse out to a level area for mounting. Make sure they aren’t cramped, as horses can get claustrophobic easily, making mounting more difficult. Traditionally, mounting occurs on the left side of a horse, but a well trained horse and balanced rider will be able to mount from either side.
    • It is important to be able to mount from both the right and the left, should you be in a dangerous situation (such as on a trail ride along a cliff edge) which requires you to quickly mount from a side you’re not necessarily used to.
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    Check your horse's girth. The girth should be tight, but you should be able to fit two fingers between the girth and the horse's side. Riding with a loose or tight girth is dangerous for you and your horse, and trying to mount a horse with a loose girth can land you and the saddle on the ground. It's very important to check your horse's girth before mounting.
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    Adjust your stirrup length. Although you can adjust the length of your stirrups from the horse’s back, it’s much easier to do so before mounting. To get a relatively accurate gauge of your stirrup length, pull out the leathers/stirrup towards your torso. Place your hand on the saddle, so your arm is perpendicular to your torso. Adjust the stirrups so that they reach they length of your arm, extending till just about your armpit.
    • This method gives you a good foundation length, which can then be adjusted by a friend or yourself when in the saddle.
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    Keep the horse still. Make sure the horse is paying attention to you, and isn’t trying to walk off. Put the reins over his head so they'll be in the correct position when you mount, and hold on to them to keep him still while you mount. If you're a beginner, ask a friend to hold your horse for you while you mount.
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    Move your mounting block in place. Although it is not required, a mounting block can make reaching the stirrups a bit easier. Repeatedly mounting without a block puts a lot of strain on one side of your horse's back, so using a mounting block can help reduce that strain and protect their back. If you have a mounting block, move it so that it is just under the stirrup you will use to mount up with.[1]

Method 2
Climbing Onto Your Horse

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    Position yourself next to your horse in preparation for mounting. Whether you're standing on a mounting block or on the ground, you should stand next to your horse's left front leg. This allows you to reach the stirrup easily without sacrificing control of your horse.
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    Hold the reins in your left hand. Keep them tight enough that you can control your horse if it moves away, but be careful not to pull too hard on your horse's mouth.
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    Put your left foot in the stirrup. This is much easier when using a mounting block, but doable from the ground as well.
    • If you're mounting from the ground, drop your left stirrup several holes to make it easier to reach. You can shorten your stirrup to the right length once you're sitting on your horse.
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    Stand on your left foot and swing your right leg over. Your left hand should still be holding the reins, but you can grab the pommel of the saddle if necessary. Use your right hand to grab the pommel, a handful of mane at the base of your horse's neck, or the front of the saddle on the right hand side. Avoid grabbing the back of the saddle, as it's less secure and pulling on it can cause the saddle to slip.
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    Slowly sink into the saddle. Landing hard in the saddle can hurt your horse's back, so be careful to land gently in the saddle. Adjust your stirrups if necessary, position the reins properly in your hands, and you're ready to go!

Method 3
Mounting with a Leg-up

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    Stand at your horse’s side. As aforementioned, most riders mount from the left side but either the left or the right side is appropriate for mounting. Turn to face the saddle.
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    Adjust your reins. You should have a good grip of the reins at all time during the mounting process, so that the horse doesn’t walk off from under you. Shorten the inside rein so that should you add pressure to the bit, your horse would just circle in on you while you cue it to stop.[2]
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    Put your foot in the stirrup. Lift your forward foot (the one closest to the horse’s head) into the stirrup, so that your weight is resting on the ball of your foot. If the saddle is too high off the ground or if you don’t have enough stretch in your leg, lift your leg with your arm or have a friend do the same.
    • If you’re using a mounting ramp, step onto the ramp prior to putting your foot in the stirrup.
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    Grab the front of the saddle. If you’re riding in a western saddle, use your forward hand to grab the horn. In an english saddle use your forward hand to grab the pommel.
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    Pull yourself up. Step into the stirrup as if you were walking upstairs while gently pulling yourself up with your hand on the front of the saddle. You may put your other hand on the cantle of the saddle to help keep balance.
    • If you have a friend with you, have them counter-balance your saddle to keep it from sliding off by pushing down into the opposite stirrup.
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    Swing your leg over. When you have pulled yourself up so that your belly is level with the seat of the saddle, swing your back leg up and over the rear end of the horse. Be careful not to bump or kick them with your foot.
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    Sink into the saddle. Slowly lower yourself into the saddle, so that you don’t ‘plop’ down and cause pain or discomfort to the horse. This may be slow-going to start, but over time you’ll be able to do this quickly and gently.
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    Adjust your seat. When you are stable on the back of the horse, make minor adjustments to your seat and posture. Put your other foot in the stirrup, and adjust the length if necessary.


  • Have an experienced rider or instructor watching you if you are an inexperienced rider. Never ride alone, in case you fall off.
  • If the horse consistently evades being mounted, break down each step and praise the horse when they stand still.
  • Although you may be told to mount from the left, current research and many back specialists suggest that you should teach your horse to be mounted from both sides and alternate frequently to prevent asymmetrical muscle development.
  • Be careful when mounting a frisky or green-broke horse, or a stallion. If this is the situation, you can always have another person with you to help
  • If your horse starts to move while you're mounting, tell him "Whoa" and pull gently on the reins.
  • After you have mounted you should check your girth again before you set off.
  • Use common sense whenever handling a horse.
  • Try not to use method 2 very often as this hurts the horses back a lot. You do not want to cause injures to the horse.
  • Don't worry about the horse walking off when trying to mount.


  • Never just plonk yourself in the saddle, always lower yourself slowly into it.
  • Remember to wear boots with a heel and an ASTM/SEI certified helmet when riding.
  • Always check your girth!
  • Some horses are very sensitive. After you swing over the saddle, you may want to stay standing in the stirrups, or in two-point for a second.

Things You'll Need

  • Appropriate horse tack (saddle, girth, saddle pad, bridle, stirrups)
  • Riding boots
  • Helmet
  • A mounting block
  • Assistance

Article Info

Categories: Riding