How to Mount and Dismount a Horse

Master the basics of getting on and off a horse correctly with this lesson from United States Pony Clubs


Young Rider Magazine LogoLearning to mount and dismount safely is essential. Follow this step-by-step process to position yourself correctly and control your horse or pony effectively while getting on and off. Mounting and dismounting should be done on the left side of the horse. Using a mounting block to get on helps prevent excessive strain on the horse’s back.

How to Mount a Horse

For safety, it’s best to have someone hold your horse while you learn to mount.

  • Stand next to your horse’s left shoulder facing the tail. Hold both reins in your left hand at the top of his neck. Using your right hand, hold out the stirrup and insert the ball of your left foot. Put your right hand on the pommel or middle of the seat and turn so you are facing your horse’s side.
  • Bounce on your right foot and push with your left to swing your right leg over the horse’s back.
  • Be careful not to kick your horse as you swing your leg over.
  • Sink gently into the saddle.
  • Put your right foot in the other stirrup.
Mounting from a mounting block
A mounting block is kinder to the horse’s back as you get on.
Rider mounting a horse from a mounting block
Be careful not to bump the horse as you swing your leg over.

How to Dismount a Horse

  • Put both reins in your left hand and take both feet out of the stirrups. Put your right hand on the pommel or on your horse’s neck.
  • Lean forward and swing your right leg over your horse’s back, taking care not kick him.
  • As your right leg swings over to the left side of the horse, turn and slide down with your side against the horse so that you land facing forward.
Rider preparing to dismount
When dismounting, remove your feet from the stirrups and hold both reins in your left hand.
Rider dismounting a horse
Lean forward, swing your right leg over and turn and slide down facing forward with your side against the pony.


Some people have trouble learning to push off the ground when mounting and try to pull themselves up. Instead, think about stair steps and the motion you would use walking up stairs. Many new riders like to “plop” into the saddle. Pretend there is an egg under your seat, and you must sit down softly so you don’t crack the shell.

Tack Check

Always do a safety check on both sides of the horse before mounting. Put the reins over the horse’s head and inspect the following, from the right side to the left, before you get on:

  1. SADDLE PAD: straight and smooth.
  2. BRIDLE: buckles fastened correctly, nothing is twisted, and reins are not crossed.
  3. GIRTH is buckled correctly and is tight enough.
  4. STIRRUPS: Pulled down.

Brought to you in partnership with the United StateS Pony Clubs Find this lesson in the USPC Manual of Horsemanship Basics for Beginners D-Level (2nd edition), page 27-28. For more fun lessons like this, join Pony Club!

This article originally appeared in the March/April 2019 issue of Young Rider magazine. Click here to subscribe!



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