Mounting Made Easy

The pupil will approach the horse’s shoulder
and prepare to mount;
for this purpose he will lay hold of and separate,
with the right hand, a handful of mane,
and pass it into the left hand,
taking hold as near the roots as possible,
without twisting them;
he will seize the pommel of the saddle
with the right hand,
the four fingers in,
and the thumb outside;
then springing lightly,
will raise himself upon his wrists.
As soon as his middle is the height of the horse’s withers,
he will pass the right leg over the croup,
without touching it,
and place himself lightly in the saddle.
This vaulting being very useful in making the man active,
he should be made to repeat it eight or ten times,
before letting him finally seat himself.
The repetition of this will soon teach him what he is able to do,
using the powers of his arms and loins.

Baucher, F. (2011-12-06).
New Method of Horsemanship
Including the Breaking and Training of Horses,
with Instructions for Obtaining a Good Seat.
(Kindle Locations 199-204). . Kindle Edition.

Now, it is time to take all the skills and awareness you have painstakingly acquired and apply them while actually up on your horse. Unfortunately, most of us are not practiced at lifting our knees to our chins, never mind springing up from that position to balance on one foot set on a swinging pendulum in mid air while twisting our torsos about and waving the other leg through the air, then settling quickly and quietly into a semi-squat on a moving object.

However, if you want to be able to get on quickly and smoothly, and you would like your horse to cooperate, these are skills and strengths you need to develop and the sooner the better (click here). Make mounting easy on your horse because:

• Taking a choke hold on the reins
• Hanging on the saddle for balance,
• pulling it (and the horse) off center while you hop about,
• poking the horse in the ribs with the toe of your boot, then
• kicking the horse on flanks or the croup as you clamber over its back,
• and plopping into the saddle with a thump

will make the most even tempered and tolerant horse dread being mounted. A horse that skitters about refusing to stand still in order to evade being mounted is a bad enough nuisance in the barn or arena, but out on the trail it is a real hazard. If you do not like chasing your horse, being dragged around with one foot in the stirrup, or walking home, try these exercises:

Start with the Crane Stance:

  1. Start by standing evenly balanced on both feet
  2. Toes pointing straight ahead
  3. Back straight
  4. Body relaxed
  5. Then shift all your weight to one foot
  6. Raise your weightless foot so that
  7. Only the ball of the foot touches the ground
  8. Pause to check your balance
  9. Then raise your knee
  10. Lifting your foot off the ground.
  11. Pause and check your balance
  12. Raise your knee as far as you can without losing your balance
  13. And hold that position
  14. Slowly put your foot back and the ground
  15. And repeat with the other foot

When you can raise and hold either leg and maintain your balance comfortably, it is time for the next step. This next move and the development of the core loin muscles are the secret to an easy mount as well as a supple seat. Baucher’s instructions to the French Cavalry emphasis their importance:

The lesson will commence with the chest.
The instructor will make use of the flexions of the loins,
which expand the chest,
to straighten the upper part of the pupil’s body;
he whose loins are slack
will be made to hold himself in this position for some time,
without regard to the stiffness first few times.
It is by the exertion of force that the pupil will become supple,
and not by the abandon so much and so uselessly recommended.
A movement at first obtained by great effort,
will, after a while,
not require so much,
for he will then have gained skill,
and skill, in this case,
is but the result of exertions combined and employed properly.
What is first done with twenty pounds of force,
reduces itself afterwards to fourteen, to ten, to four.
Skill will be the exertion reduced to four pounds.
If we commenced by a less, we would not attain this result.
The flexions of the loins will be often renewed,
allowing the pupil often to let himself down in
to his natural relaxed position,
in order to make him properly employ the force
that quickly gives a good position to the chest.

Baucher, F. (2011-12-06).
New Method of Horsemanship I
ncluding the Breaking and Training of Horses,
with Instructions for Obtaining a Good Seat.
(Kindle Location 207-214). . Kindle Edition.

Pushing against the stirrup with your foot just shoves it around like a pendulum, throwing you off balance and irritating the horse, while trying to push yourself up with your ground foot results in a futile sort of hopping about. And yes, you can see this poor person in riding stables everywhere; hanging on the reins with one hand, one foot swinging randomly about in the stirrup as they hop along helplessly on the other foot while their horse steadily recedes from them. If you ever wonder how people manage to stick their foot in a stirrup higher than their waist and then spring into the saddle without  pulling the horse over or the stirrup off here is the secret.

  1. Lift your foot off the ground.
  2. Pause and check your balance
  3. Raise your knee as far as you can without losing your balance
  4. And hold that position, locking your knee and ankle in place
  5. Round your lower back
  6. Your toe should tilt up- (making it easy to slip into the stirrup)
  7. Holding the extreme of the arching for a breath and then
  8. Arch your lower back
  9. Driving your toe down and back
  10. Holding the extreme of the rounding for a breath
  11. Straighten up
  12. Set your foot down
  13. And repeat with the other leg

When it is time to get on your horse, you want to be able to slide your toe into the stirrup and rise into the saddle quickly and smoothly, so you want to see as much passive change in the orientation of your toe as possible. To build strength and coordination:

• Slowly rock back and forth for as long as you can maintain your balance
• and do exaggerate the rocking of your lower back.
• It is vitally important to keep your knee and ankle locked and still

Once you can stand beside your horse and lift yourself up on one leg, you still have get the other leg over his back without kicking him before you can sit down in the saddle. In the Bow Stance, one leg is bent and the other extended. It is usually practiced as a static position, and we will start that way too. But, since our bent knee is on the swinging pendulum of a stirrup and our extended leg has to swing out, up, and over the horse’s back, we will have to make it a more dynamic movement.

Bow Stance Dance Step:

  1. Start by standing evenly balanced on both feet
  2. Toes pointing straight ahead
  3. Back straight
  4. Body relaxed
  5. Looking forward
  6. Then shift all your weight to one foot
  7. Raise your weightless foot so that
  8. Only the ball of the foot touches the ground
  9. Then raise your knee
  10. Lifting your foot off the ground.
  11. Pause and check your balance
  12. As though taking a step forward
  13. Set your raised foot on the ground ahead of you
  14. Sink down
  15. Keeping the knee bent
  16. And your eyes and shoulders looking ahead
  17. Your lower leg should be vertical
  18. And your knee bent
  19. Settling your most of your weight
  20. onto your flattened front foot
  21. Your rear leg is now stretched out behind you
  22. Foot resting on the ground but
  23. Weightless and joints relaxed
  24. Pause and check your balance
  25. Slowly raise your rear leg off the ground
  26. Lower your center of gravity by
  27. Keeping your weighted knee bent while
  28. Swinging your weightless leg out to the side
  29. Stretching it up and out as far as you can
  30. While keeping it weightless and joints relaxed
  31. Pause and check your balance
  32. Rest the foot lightly on the ground only if you need to regain your balance
  33. Straighten your weighted and bent leg
  34. Pivoting your hips 90 degrees and
  35. Swinging your weightless leg
  36. around with your hips
  37. keep the leg extended out to the side
  38. Pause and check your balance
  39. Slowly set your weightless foot on the ground and
  40. Settle into the Horse Stance
  41. With your weight equally balanced on both feet
  42. Repeat with the other leg

Once you have gotten the swing of things, repeat the entire Bow Stance practice while standing on a small indoor trampoline. The stirrup and the horse are both moving objects after all, so it is best to get proficient at these moves while working on an unstable surface. Eventually, you will be able to make it all one smooth move. Speed will come of its own accord, so until then make sure you have every step correctly entrained into your muscle memory. If you feel you need more confidence and strength try going back to Developing Awareness for more exercises.

And yes, do practice on both sides as it makes both you and your horse more balanced and flexible mentally as well as physically. The convention that horses should be mounted only from the left is a hangover from the days of right-handed sword-carrying cavalry. The long sword hung down on the rider’s left side, leaving only their right leg free to swing over the horse’s back. Left-handers were discouraged, as they tended to bump elbows with the right-handed when riding or fighting in formation. This is bad enough at the dinner table, but is truly disastrous in combat. As most riders nowadays would not know what to do with a sword if they had one, focusing on versatility makes more sense.

Getting off takes practice too, especially under duress, so click here for the flying dismount or for more on making sure you are fit to ride

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