Do you mount and dismount from both sides of your horse regularly?

There are physical and mental advantages to being able to mount and dismount from both sides of your horse. Mentally, it is comforting to know that your horse will allow you to mount and dismount from both sides. There have been times when I have been trail riding and dismounted to pick up an item or trash only to find that the ‘off’ side was easier to mount up on due to obstacles or a hill.

After a recent blog I wrote, Annie G. commented:

“Teeny-tiny point: always mounting and dismounting from the near side stretches the stirrup leather, and after a while you can’t get them even. Alternating sides prevents this.”

I agree with Ann and I would also add that, if this impact is measurable on the saddle, there is also the muscular and skeletal system of the horse to consider. Do you have trouble mounting up on a horse?Equine chiropractors and massage therapists often recommend alternating the side you mount and dismount from as the same ‘pull’ affects the muscles in the horse.

With this information in mind, I mix up the side that I mount and dismount from. I might mount the right side and then dismount from the left, mount up from the left and dismount from the right or mount and dismount once from the left and the next time from the right.

I also have found that the exercise has similar benefits for the rider. Riders who have lost flexibility and strength can often benefit from introducing this routine, even if they need to practice by stepping up and down on a smaller horse or even a kitchen chair. The method of mounting does impact your horse.

When I attended college and majored in Equestrian Studies one of my ‘test’ was the ability to mount up without a girth. The instructor didn’t just loosen the girth – she completely removed it. The whole class got a chance to try with the same patience horse. Thankfully the horse was around 15 hands and had a nice set of whithers…but the point was also made.

Mounting isn’t about d..r..a..g..g..i..n..g.. your self on. It is about technique.

I will be the first to admit that the size does matter in this example. The challenge is greater if you are shorter and your horse is taller. I can see where mounting blocks could be beneficial in some situations. Personally, I have taught my horses to bow or lay down for easier mounting. It was a more time consuming process but I also don’t have to remember a mounting block when I’m out on the trail!

Do you have issues mounting? How have you tried solving them?


  1. PATRICIA TATUM on August 1, 2017 at 7:21 pm

    After hip surgery and physical therapy to the max, I have lost my range of motion, so mounting is just about impossible and takes me forever, so my horse MUST be patient. I did have a LARGE mounting platform built for me, but if I’m out trail riding, I’d be in big trouble if I needed to get off and mount again. My physical therapist told me to take a small dog leash with me to put my foot into the hand portion and pull my leg up and over. It works but not very pretty to watch!

  2. She's on January 22, 2015 at 6:01 pm

    Could you please do a video showing correct technique step by step? I’ve never really been shown. Although I use a mounting block I’d love to learn how to mount properly from the ground in case I ever need it.

  3. Matthew on January 21, 2015 at 3:53 pm

    I’d like to see a video of mounting without a girth. I mean I can mount pretty easily with a saddle attached. But mounting a saddle without a girth I can’t begin to figure out. Riding without a saddle seems easier than mounting without a girth.

  4. Joyce Pickering on August 3, 2014 at 5:23 pm

    I had hip surgery and am just getting back on my horse. My neighbor made some steps for me so I can get on. But I found it is much harder to get off. So I use the tailgate of my pickup to get off. Hopefully, my muscles will get stronger and I will be able to get on from the ground. But I refuse to give up riding just because it is hard to get on or off. I am 70 years old and will ride until I cannot ride any more and then I will drive my miniature horses. I used to be able to get on both sides and will try it again in a month or two when I am stronger. It is good to train your horse on both sides. I used to compete in Trail Trials and you had to be able to mount or dismount from both sides.

  5. Della on August 3, 2014 at 2:12 pm

    I mount/dismount from the off and near sides for the reasons mentioned and I’m always looking for mental-physical challenges from doing something out of my and my horse’s comfort zone. Also, I read somewhere that we traditionally use the left side because most people are right handed and soldiers carrying swords would only be able to mount from the left side since the sword would be on their left hip. So it makes sense to me to drop the left side only tradition and practise both sides just like we do other exercises for ourselves and our horses. This can apply regardless of the method of mounting, e.g., from the ground or from a mounting block, Cheers 😉

  6. fran on August 2, 2014 at 10:58 pm

    yes to mount from both sides is possible, however to get my mare to stand on the low side of anything is impossible. She always puts herself on the high side to make me work harder to get up.

  7. Tona Lednum on August 2, 2014 at 10:18 pm

    Yes, mounting is my biggest problem now. I am a senior rider and short too 5’3. Also worn out knees so out on the trail I find a rock or log to stand on. It doesnt have to be much, just a step. I have tried to mount on the off(right side) and that knee is better so works pretty good also have him alittle down hill to give me an advantage on the high side. Everything you said, I have put to use. I think if I could teach him to bow would be the best! Thank you for all your help.T. Lednum

    Date: Sat, 2 Aug 2014 22:02:21 +0000 To:

  8. Mary Bieganski on August 2, 2014 at 10:14 pm

    I have to admit that I don’t use the off side as much as I should. I use a mounting block most times also due to my short legs since my mare is just tall enough to where I can’t get up on her with out pulling slightly (my toe just fits in the stirrup so I can’t get a good enough bounce off the other foot, and I was tired of tearing my jeans lol) though I do practice getting on from the ground and my mare is learning to bow to that one day it’ll be easier

  9. Jenni Hitt on August 2, 2014 at 7:46 pm

    I had quite a bit of off time for myself due to a bad injury (caused by a horse accident) and struggle to mount on either side now from the ground. I always use a block or the tailgate or something to help get up. I have a horse that is blind on the left side and we started him by tacking up and mounting/dismounting from either side due to his limited sight.

  10. Nancy Pelling on August 2, 2014 at 7:43 pm

    If a horse is taught to bow as you do how much shorter would that horse usually be during mounting? I am asking as a rider with knee issues who currently has to use a very high block both to mount and to dismount. This is for me and for my horse as I will pull him badly off center if I mount any other way. Also,as a heavier rider pushing the safe limit for this horse(in his teens),would mounting while the horse is in a bowed or stretched position put more stress on his joints and tendons as he rises up while fully loaded in the way that carrying something heavy up a step is much more stressful on our joints?

  11. Monica Huettl on August 2, 2014 at 7:36 pm

    My habit is to mount and dismount from both sides, ditto with leading them. I always use a fence, mounting block, tree stump, large rock, hill, trailer fender, or something to mount my horses. They will side up to whatever I’m standing on and stand still during the mounting process. I think they are grateful that I’m using something to ease myself aboard. Mounting from the ground puts a huge strain on their withers. Stacy, can you post a video of how to teach a horse to kneel? I’ve been wanting to learn this. Just need some training tips!

    • Mary Bieganski on August 2, 2014 at 10:14 pm

      She has a DVD that explains the whole process wonderfully!!

  12. Stephanie Schmermund on August 2, 2014 at 6:46 pm

    Hi Stacy, l’m so happy to see this question. Ziggy has had a rough 2.5 months, a portion of that time was stall rest. Yesterday, August 1st, was the first time he was undersaddle. I decided that since l have not been on him for so long, l’ d mount on the offside. It felts awkward, (l don’t do it often enough) but it is so nice to know that l have done my homework with him, and to him it wasn’t anything out of the ordinary. Hope you are staying cool in Texas!

  13. Susan Fletcher Teague on August 2, 2014 at 6:21 pm

    Mount and dismount from both sides, we do quite a bit of trail riding and have had to dismount in sometimes dangerous situations that require you to get off where you can

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