Right or Left

Dear Helen,


A few years ago I had a stroke and I’m not as strong on my left side as I used to be.  I know I should mount my horse on the left but is there anything wrong with mounting him on the right side?


Ready to Ride Again


Dear Ready to Ride,


I am sorry to hear about your stroke and glad you are getting back in the saddle.  Historically, the Knights began mounting on the left side of a horse to keep their sword from hitting the horse in the butt.  No matter how the tradition began, it is what we have inherited.


Although mounting on the left side is what most horses and people are trained to do, you can retrain a horse to accept mounting from both sides.  If you choose to mount from the right, make sure that your horse is used to both sides in case you ever sell the horse.  Begin with a confident but gentle attitude.  If you are uneasy, the horse will pick up on it.  Next, yank on the stirrup and horn from the off side to get the horse used to the saddle moving in that direction.  When you and your horse are comfortable, put your foot in the stirrup and give a few gentle bounces.  If the horse gets scared, slow down on your steps but continue in a safe manner.  Horses learn by repetition.   When you first bounce up, they might try to move away so make sure you have a hold on the reins or have their heads turned toward you. After you have bounced up a few times, swing your leg over, ride a few steps, get off, and do it again.   The more you work the horse, the better he will get.  Since you are weaker from the stroke, it might be a good idea to have someone with you the first time you try this.



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