Learning The Flying Dismount

  • A survey from Victoria, Australia, noted that for children,
  • riding was the third-highest recreational activity requiring hospital admission.
  • For adults, it was the fourth-highest activity.
  • Another Australian study placed riding as fifth in its injury rate,
  • with 718 injuries to every million participant hours.
  • (Cycle touring was most dangerous, with bungee jumping 10th.)
  • Falls account for about 80% of injuries.
  • On a horse, your head is eight to 10 feet off the ground.
  • If you fall, the force of deceleration upon impact can result in trauma.
  • from TheHorse.com

There is a delusion out there that riding with a helmet is safe, so I am going to repeat the above information:

  • Falls account for about 80% of injuries.
  • On a horse, your head is eight to 10 feet off the ground.
  • If you fall, the force of deceleration upon impact can result in trauma

A helmet may lessen the trauma, but the best way to avoid a head injury is not to fall on your head. A recent survey of the latest high tech football helmets showed that even the best of them absorbed no more than 20% of the force of impact and none of them prevented the most damaging part of head trauma, the brain bouncing back and forth inside the skull. So while a well-designed helmet may prevent your skull from being broken open, which in inarguably an altogether good thing, your brain is still better off f you can avoid bouncing it around in a fall.

Since the mere idea of learning when and how to get off your horse at any gait and land on your feet strikes horror into so many, I will do my best to describe the steps of the flying dismount. (Eventually I may try to illustrate them…)This lesson is easily integrated into a teaching program as every one has to get on and off their horse at least once every time they ride. Taking a few minutes to do it well every time makes a HUGE difference. The goal is to have the movements become automatic, so that your body knows what to do even when your conscious mind short-circuits.

  • Start with dismounting in small distinct steps on a standing horse. if the horse moves, ask him to stand -treats are a great incentive- and then start over making sure you are not poking him in the ribs with your toe.
  1. Stand up in your stirrups and balance.
  2. When you can balance facing forward, turn your hips and torso sideways so your shoulders are in line with the horse’s backbone.
  3. Turn forward again
  4. sit down in the saddle
  5. Stand again
  6. Turn towards the other side
  7. Turn forward again
  8. sit down in the saddle
  • Practice these steps until you and the horse are comfortable. Your knees and lower legs will be your stabilizers.
  1. Then practice the standing and turning both ways without sitting.
  • When that is easy:
  1. Stand up in your stirrups and balance.
  2. When you can balance facing forward, turn your hips and torso sideways so your shoulders are in line with the horse’s backbone.
  3. Grasp the pommel (front) of the saddle with one hand and the cantle (rear) of the saddle with the other
  4. Put your weight on your hands
  5. Tilt slightly forward with your knees, hips and back in one straight line,
  6. Keep your center of balance (your belly button) directly over the center of the saddle and the horse’s center of balance.
  7. Take your feet out of the stirrups.
  8. Put your feet back in the stirrups
  9. face forward and sit down
  • repeat in both directions until it is easy, then:
  1. Stand up in your stirrups and balance.
  2. When you can balance facing forward, turn your hips and torso sideways so your shoulders are in line with the horse’s backbone.
  3. Grasp the pommel (front) of the saddle with one hand and the cantle (rear) of the saddle with the other
  4. Put your weight on your hands
  5. Tilt slightly forward with your knees, hips and back in one straight line,
  6. Keep your center of balance directly over the center of the saddle and the horse’s center of balance.
  7. Take your hand off the cantle of the saddle
  8. Take your forward (we will call it right) foot out of the stirrup
  9. Swing it over the horse’s back
  10. replace your hand on the cantle
  11. Support yourself with your hands and arms
  12. take your left foot out of the stirrup
  13. Balance for a moment
  14. Look forward past your horse’s ears
  • Now you can either drop to the ground and complete your dismount or
  1. put your left foot back in the stirrup
  2. pick up your hand that is on the cantle
  3. swing your right leg over the horse’s back
  4. turn forward
  5. put your right foot in the stirrup
  6. sit down in the saddle
  • Repeat on BOTH sides until this is all one smooth easy movement. Don’t forget to praise and reward your horse often, especially when you touch the ground! You want your horse to stop and wait for a treat when you lose your balance or fall off, not head for home without you!
  • Have your assistant or instructor put the horse longe line (a lead line will do in a pinch) , then mount and ask the horse to take and maintain a gait. Start with the walk.  Then start practicing the dismount from the beginning. You are also teaching the horse how to respond when you shift your balance and/or start to come off, so take it slowly. You want the horse to be calm, relaxed and looking forward to a reward.
  1. Stand up in your stirrups and balance at a walk.
  2. When you can balance facing forward, turn your hips and torso sideways so your shoulders are in line with the horse’s backbone.
  3. Turn forward again
  4. sit down in the saddle
  5. Stand again
  6. Turn towards the other side
  7. Turn forward again
  8. sit down in the saddle
  • Anytime the horse speeds up, sit down and breath until horse settles down. When you and the horse are both calm go to the next phase, with your assistant keeping the horse calmly going forward at the walk:
  1. Stand up in your stirrups and balance.
  2. When you can balance facing forward, turn your hips and torso sideways so your shoulders are in line with the horse’s backbone.
  3. Grasp the pommel (front) of the saddle with one hand and the cantle (rear) of the saddle with the other
  4. Put your weight on your hands
  5. Tilt slightly forward with your knees, hips and back in one straight line,
  6. Keep your center of balance directly over the center of the saddle and the horse’s center of balance.
  7. Take your hand off the cantle of the saddle
  8. Take your forward  (we’ll start with the right) foot out of the stirrup
  9. Swing it over the horse’s back
  10. replace your hand on the cantle
  11. Support yourself with your hands and arms
  12. take your left foot out of the stirrup
  13. Balance for a moment
  14. Look forward past your horse’s ears
  • Now you can either drop to the ground and complete your dismount  (including giving the horse a treat!) or
  1. put your left foot back in the stirrup
  2. pick up your hand that is on the cantle
  3. swing your leg over the horse’s back
  4. turn forward
  5. put your right  foot in the stirrup
  6. sit down in the saddle
  • Repeat until it is easy and automatic! Once you and the horse are successful at the walk, move up to the trot, and eventually to the canter. Athletic sorts, especially kids, on the right size horse can practice bouncing back up and remounting, but for most of us, the flying dismount is just fine.

Congratulations!

You have landed on your feet

and

your calm happy horse is right there waiting for a treat !

That means you and your horse get to ride home in one piece without any headaches. Of course, you might want to make sure hopping back on is as easy as getting off, if so click here

other wise click  for more on making sure you are fit to ride

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2 thoughts on “Learning The Flying Dismount

    • Nope. I learned at the military cavalry school in San Miguel de Allende as a kid and it has been a life-saver. One of these days if I get myself a proper camera set up I’ll do a video.

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