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How to Dismount from a Horse

Updated on February 26, 2013
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The rider's goal is usually to dismount on her own terms, at the end of the ride. However, the horse sometimes has other ideas, so it's important to learn how to safely dismount in any situation.

Dismounting from the Halt

Always practice the dismount at the halt. It is customary to dismount on the left, because the horse is used to most activities taking place on the left side. However, there is no reason not to dismount from the right, and if fact, it is a good idea to practice mounting and dismounting from the right on occasion because the rider's weight can cause uneven stress on the horse's spine.

The following directions assume that the rider is dismounting from the left:

1) Make sure that the horse is completely stopped.

2) Control the reins with the left hand. Do not let go of the reins at any point.

3) Take both feet out of the stirrups. Some riders keep their left foot in the stirrup as they lower themselves down. However, this puts unnecessary strain on the horse's back and it poses a serious danger of having your foot become stuck in the stirrup.

4) Place the right hand on the pommel (front) of the saddle.

5) Swing the left leg high up over the cantle (back) of the saddle. Do not get lazy and let your leg hit the cantle!

6) Bring both legs together on the left side of the horse.

7) Jump down without sliding against the saddle and catching on the stirrup iron.

8) Land softly with bent knees to absorb the shock.

9) Bring the reins over the horse's head so that you can lead cool him out and lead him back to the barn.

After riding in cold weather, your feet may experience sharp pangs when they hit the ground. In this case, do slide slowly to ground as long as your horse doesn't try to leave before you are on both feet.

The last thing any rider wants to see is the back of her horse as he runs away from her! You lose total control of the horse in an emergency dismount, so only dismount as a last resort.
The last thing any rider wants to see is the back of her horse as he runs away from her! You lose total control of the horse in an emergency dismount, so only dismount as a last resort. | Source

The Emergency Dismount

Once you are comfortable with a regular dismount, you can practice the emergency dismount. In some cases, it is safer to dismount from a panicked or misbehaving horse--hence the emergency dismount.

First practice at the walk, the the trot and perhaps the canter. Have a friend keep the horse on lead or longe line, because you will not keep control of the reins when you dismount.

1) Let go of the reins.

2) Place your hand on the pommel horse.

3) Use your hand as leverage to swing your right leg up and over the cantle.

4) Push yourself away from the horse. Land facing forward so that you can take a few steps alongside the horse and gain control of your momentum.

In a true emergency dismount situation, you'll need to regain control of your horse as soon as possible. If the reins flip up over the horse's head, he could step on them and possibly damage his mouth from the bit, or break the reins.

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