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It’s the first step to riding. You’ve got to get on the horse.

But the process of doing just that can set the tone for the rest of your ride.

And many accidents can happen right there at the mounting block.

The saddle slips, the horse moves before you’re ready, you lose your balance just as you go to swing your leg over the saddle…

There is a way to mount that is safe, easier for you, and more comfortable for your horse.

It’s the small details that make the difference – where are your horse’s feet, where are you putting your hand on the saddle, and what do you do with the reins?

In this video, I will demonstrate the most common mistakes in mounting that could easily end in an accident, plus how to mount correctly so you can feel balanced and secure in those first moments in the saddle.

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67 Responses

  1. Callie, thank you for the tips. I realized that I tend to stand facing toward the hindquarter of the horse when I mount. Is it o.k?

    1. Hi Rie, be careful doing that as when you twist yourself to climb on you can actually push into the horse with your toe – something to be mindful of!

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  2. Hi Callie,

    This was great. My thought, however, is that I would have expected, at the start, some discussion on girth checking and girth tightness.

    Thanks so much for all your work and videos.

    1. Making sure the girth is tightened appropriately is a must before even climbing on the block 🙂

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  3. Superb video! I was never shown the nuances you did, during my riding lessons from others, up here in CT. It all makes sense, too! I will use your advice and instruction on my next trail ride.

  4. Good advice! My horse used to have trouble standing still while mounting. I started ( and I still do! ) giving the horse a piece of carrot any time she stood still while I mount. Also a good idea to just sit as you demonstrated, and not walk straight on. Instead do something else – like scratch her neck or flex her neck, so the horse does not anticipate walking off as the next thing to do.

  5. Although I was aware of the tips you’ve mentioned, I find this topic so important! Thank you for sharing this us, this video should be played to everyone starting their journey with horses! I have one example to add though – people often put all of the pressure from their weight on horses’ back by falling onto the saddle while mounting, instead of keeping the control over the body and sitting slowly – and they put themselves at risk, and horses in discomfort. Do you think the tip to put the right hand on the other side of the saddle before mounting should also help resolve that issue?

  6. Very good video. I used your other tips for getting my horse to stand (somewhat) still This makes so much sense. Thank you

  7. I liked this video. I was able to see the mistakes I do when mounting my horse. I tend to hold onto the back of the saddle. Do you have any videos on how to correctly dismount from an English saddle and if it’s safe to dismount on a mounting block?

  8. Thank u for sharing as it is breaking things down and slowing it down that sets both horse and rider to b successful

  9. Awesome Callie-
    My only other tip-and one that so many ignore-is teach your horse to stand. For those who have gotten away with it-it may take a while-but it is the absolute safest way to start out a ride. If the horse is anxious, prancing, walks off, or even bolts off-you are already setting the tone for the entire ride.
    I teach them from all sorts of “mounting blocks” as I am very short and rather “toady” and so never get off once on-unless there is something to help me do so! ;). I always have a treat for them after they stand-it is one of the few times I religiously treat-and it pays off under all circumstances-but you can also do without…you just have to be very kind and consistent and insistent….I’ve sometimes had to rehab horses and this particular lesson may take the entire week or month-or? and nothing else…both sides-all circumstances. It is a life saver-literally!

    1. Hi,
      I have adopted a little arab horse and she is really difficult to mount… Any tips apart from treats would be appreciated… Thanks

    2. I agree, Claire. The treat trick works wonders, as does a gentle pat on the neck. It’s sooo much more enjoyable to begin your ride calmly.

    3. Claire and Feather, Agree re teaching your horse to stand. And that sets the tone. First ever mount on my horse – she started walking. Now she knows to not even think about it.

  10. Good information. When I need to mount and a mounting block is not available like on a trail ride, I use a hill to my advantage. I am up hill and the horse is down hill. I do the same thing if a gully is available. the horse simply stands in the gully.

  11. Excellent video! I can see I’ve been doing a few things wrong so will correct that. I also liked that you explained WHY to use the best practices.

  12. hi, I am an older male who used to ride when I was younger (maybe 30yrs ago I turned 80) I would like to ride again d0 you think this is a good idea?

    1. Hi Edward you can definitely ride again! I would just recommend finding a trainer who is the right fit for you and your goals!

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  13. Thank you for an excellent video. I am older and have arthritis and a hip replacement. Mounting and dismounting are more difficult for me than riding!

    I hope you will consider doing a similar video for dismounting. I often read that it’s not safe to dismount onto a mounting block or platform, but it is what I must do. A lot of us with arthritis or other problems are in this position. Any tips you have would be appreciated

  14. I agree that it’s much better to use a mounting block, but sometimes if you ride outside you won’t have one. For example, you might have to dismount to open a gate, lead your horse through and close a gate. There are lots of fence gates, especially in cattle pastures, that can’t be opened and closed from a horse. If you had to mount Catfish from the ground, what would be the best way to do that? Thanks!

  15. Great tips. Thank you. As an old lady rider I really struggle with dismounting. I can’t get my leg over without dragging my foot across my horse’s rump. He is very understanding and it doesn’t seem to bother him, but I’d really like to not do it. Any pointers for this?

  16. This is an excellent video. I have had 2 hip replacements and one revision of the right hip. This creates a problem in mounting for me. No pain, but my balance is off. When I mount, I use a 3 step block which makes it easier for me. Even with a short horse. Swinging my right leg over is tough. I grab the stirrup leather on the other side, then swing my leg over which makes a swallow arc. Fortunately for me, my little Morgan doesn’t freak if I accidentally touch him with my foot. Dismounting is another challenge.
    I grab the stirrup leather on the off side and heft, for want of a better word, the right leg back over and slide down the saddle to the ground. My horse stands there. He’s great. There are some of us who have physical issues. Maybe sometime address those. Thanks for your videos. They are very good.

    1. I have the same issues, Diane, as do many others. Mounting and dismounting are a real challenge—when I’m on the horse I’m fine! Regular stretching helps, but, for me, it’s still the hardest part of riding.

  17. Excellent video. I have never been taught to hold my right hand on the opposite side of the saddle, but on the center of the seat of the saddle. Your method makes so much sense, as you won’t be putting unnecessary pressure on the horse’s spine. I am vertically challenged (only 5′ ), so I’m not sure I can actually reach over even on a mounting block, but I will certainly try and practice to perfect. Thank you!

  18. Simple but so important! Thanks. One thought; I was always taught to face the tail, especially when mounting from the ground, so that SHOULD the horse move off once your foot is in the mounting stirrup, you will be swung up on on to the saddle by the momentum, rather than left hopping to keep up .. (different from a mounting block.)

    1. Generations of short people mounting from the ground use d this ,face the tail, method. When younger, it was smooth. Older? I love that block

  19. I wish I would have received this video 3 months ago!! In August I was mounting my horse from the mounting block when she started to walk away. Instead of stpopping and starting over, I foolishly continued to mount landing BEHIND the saddle. My horse spooked not knowing what was on her butt and started trotting away. I fell off like a sack of potatoes!! I am still recovering from a severely bruised hip and pelvis. I am also in a sling after having rotator cuff surgery. I won’t be able to ride or lift my shoulder for 3 more months! 🙁 Thanks for your excellent video! I’ve learned my lesson!

    1. Hi Cindy, I am so sorry to hear about your fall I hope this video will help you going forward!

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  20. One of the best videos on such a basic thing we forget to pay attention to. I teach my horse to stand at the mounting block, but he doesn’t always. When he walks off, I feel unbalanced. This is a great way to keep us both feeling secure. I did it today and made a huge difference in my confidence. Thanks!

  21. When I was very young the horses my friends and I rode tried to bite or kick to stop us mounting so we pulled the head away with the offside rein and when they turned to kick it was easier and faster to swing the right leg over.

  22. A great video with clear demonstration. My trainer however keeps saying that I put too much weight in the left stirrup and do not get on fast enough therefore pulling saddle toward the left and potentially causing horse soreness on the right side. I am not aware I am doing this and just trying to be calm & relaxed. Was wondering if you could address this issue. Thank you

    1. Hi Ann, you can try getting on each side as to not strain one side of the back. Also practicing you can try to get a little faster because leaving too much weigh in one stirrup can be painful to the horse!

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  23. Hi Callie!

    Thanks for this video. I’ve seen many riders trying to get on a horse that’s already in motion!
    What about getting on bareback? Without benefit of stirrups, etc. how would body mechanics change?

    Again, thank you so much for all you do for us and for horses!

  24. So beautifully presented. Clear, concise and a great reminder to pay attention and be mindful in everything you do.
    Making certain that your horse is standing square and is actually trained to stand… Love it. Thank you so much. I’m in my fifties, just learning to ride and I’m finding your information so helpful.

  25. I am looking for tips and guidance. I am in hopes of drawing the same horse at my stable and doing some basics training. I want to focus on mounting dismounting from ground and block. Turning, stopping, going forward and backwards. Some of the horses I ride are highly trained and yet lack fundamentals. I am a trail rider. Any suggestions or references would be greatly appreciated. Only at your leisure as your time is valuable. Thank you

  26. Thank you for this video! I’m very glad to see your way of mounting resembles a lot what was once shown to me by one of my teachers in France. In fact, she told be to keep my left hand with the reins on the neck of the horse (the way in the video), and the right hands holds the skirt at the right side of the saddle, very similar to what Callie does.
    I mount this way ever since, because the teacher explained that it helps distribute the weight more evenly on the horses’s back while mounting and I also find this way safer than the usual one. In fact, most teachers (and books I have) show the way where you have your left hand at the neck of the horse/the front of the saddle and the right hand at the back of the saddle. So there’s a moment where you swing your right leg over the horse AND you let go the saddle with your right hand, as you need to make place for yourself to sit. I find this moment rather risky.
    But I have never seen this Callie-like way used or taught ever since (and sometimes teachers even try to correct me for it), so I was beginning to think I was acting strange. Glad to know I’m not wrong and there are many ways to mount a horse.
    And one more tip that I had from another person and sometimes helps with a horse that tends to walk off the block to keep the right rein a bit shorter that the left one.

  27. Bravo to my instuctors at the stables where I take my lessons. They teach this same mouting procedure that Callie does.

    I have a question for Callie: I am a beginner/intermediate new rider ( ive been taking lessons for only 5 months now). This week my instructor said my hands were going all over the place during the trot. She also said we should be using our lower leg and inner thigh muscles for the trot. Could you address these two questions in your weekly video?
    Thank you Callie! I love watching your videos and it helps me to have things explained a bit differently from my weekly lesson.

  28. It would sure help to show how to get on from the ground as a mounting block may not always be accessible. You may have to dismount on a trail ride on the prairie, with no tree stumps around. (Welcome to my world ) lol

    1. Astrid, you can do the same if it applies when you are mounting without a block. Do you have a tall horse Astrid?

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  29. I have a question. When I mount up I keep my reins loose but my horse backs up a little when I go to get on. Its something I’m doing as my last horse did the same thing. Any suggestions?

  30. Great video. Just how I was taught when I was training for my BHS Stage 1 exam and have mounted this way ever since. However the hands on front and back of saddle still seems to be around and I wondered if this was a hang up from when we all used to mount from the ground, as it’s quite difficult to get your hand across to the far side of the saddle and still have enough strength/energy to mount.
    The only and hopefully last time I fell off mounting was when my pony decided to get his head down for some tasty grass just by the mounting block. We had a bit of a struggled and although I’d got his reins I got on way to quickly, he ducked his head and I found myself in full momentum going straight over the top and landing on the floor the other side of him. I think we were both a bit surprised.
    I’ve also had to mount from the ground out hacking when opening difficult gates and always manage to find a ditch or bank to mount from. Failing that I mount from the gate if safe!

  31. I have NEVER understood the idea of facing the horse’s tail, and having to twist your ankle around, potentially poking the horse in the belly while doing so. Thank you for showing this! I have been mounting facing the horse’s head for years; it just makes more sense to me. Why hop and twist around if you don’t have to? Another tip to minimize strain to their backs is to mount from both sides regularly, and alternate sides. Awkward at first, but it soon becomes quite easy. 🙂

    1. Great tip Henny! Anything we can do to limit the strain to the back 🙂

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

    1. Laura, thanks for the recommendation for a video – some of the ideas are the same but unfortunately, we don’t currently have a western saddle on the farm for demonstration 🙁

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  32. Thank you again, for taking the time to make these videos. Thank you for also talking about the proper placement of the feet, I believe this is a part that is often overlooked.
    I have learned that it helps most horses to prepare them for mounting, when you move the saddle horn around a bit. I imagine you can also do this in a similar fashion with an english sasddle. The shifting teaches them to place there feet properly.

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