Dismounting trouble!

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16 July 2021
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Kingston Upon Hull
Hello,
I have recently gotten back into horse riding after a 10 year break. My muscle memory has been kicking in steadily except for one aspect - dismounting. During the time that I have not been riding I developed a minor fear of heights that makes things a tiny bit harder.
Whenever dismounting I need a mounting block because I just get so scared. My trainer is extremely kind and always encourages me to not use it, but when I look down I just feel pure fear! I know the mounting block isn't realistic, after all I cannot be stuck on the horse unless I find a mounting block o_O While on the horse I am not scared at all, it's only when I need to dismount and look down.. I am terrified that I won't land on my feet. I am also quite short being 155cm (5'0) which might be contributing to the.. fear as it feels like an extremely long way down and my instincts just tell me I am going to fall off!
Has anyone went through this? any tips on being able to dismount a horse so I don't have to end up living on it's back? While I love horses, I don't think I can just be with a horse 24/7 :p in all seriousness, I don't want to rely on the mounting block!
 
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Pearlsasinger

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After breaking my left ankle several years ago, I always dismount onto amounting block, if at all possible. I have occasionally dismounted on hacks and managed better than I expected but have no intention of making that a regular habit. I don't see why your trainer feels that you need to dismount onto the ground.
 

splashgirl45

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since having hip operations i now dismount by swinging right leg over but leave left foot in stirrup, with both feet together i release my left foot and gracefully (NOT) slide down while still holding on to the mane or saddle, that way i dont land too heavily...there was a thread about this a while ago and someone posted a video showing this method,
 

smolmaus

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I am also a short-arse and yeah, I have had a few wobbles since I also came back to riding after a break. Sometimes it IS a long way down 😭 My second or third dismount I did land weird, staggered back a few steps and very nearly ended up on my behind but tbh that probably helped. That's basically the worst that can happen really. I asked the pony very seriously if she was sure she was that tall when I got on and got a laugh from the instructor.

I no longer leap out of the saddle and away like I did in my youth, I slither down with one hand on the pommel and the other on the cantle. It helps if all I'm thinking on the way down is "bend your knees idiot" as then there is no room to think about anything else.
 

Equi

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I’m not a short arse but having been bogged off on mounting and having to do a few emergency dismounts I have a bit of a omg moment before each one every single time. But I just have to get on with it or I won’t ever ride again or I’ll be stuck on the horse for life.
 

paddy555

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Thank you for the replies!
@Pearlsasinger I am not sure, she seemed to find it very important.. and was quite dissatisfied that I can't do it!
@splashgirl45 That sounds like a great idea, I had a little look online, would I be correct in thinking this is the method? Video should play at the right moment..
I think the method in the video is not the safest. If something startled the horse and he moved whilst you were hanging with your left foot in the stirrup then you could end up being dragged if you could not hold the horse and get your foot out quickly. I would find it safer if something did happen part way off to fall away from the horse or to be able to jump clear even if I did end up with a sprained ankle.

I get on and off several times on hacks and I think you need to be able to get off both quickly and onto the ground. You never know what can happen and there will not always be a mounting block. There may be an accident situation even if it is nothing to do with you and your horse and you need to get off. To give you an example of when it happened to OH and myself and we both had to leap off mid stride. Cantering out of an earth track onto a concrete drive OH's horse started to trot on 3 legs. In less than one of his strides I leapt off mine and had grabbed his leg before it hit the ground. The horse had a metal spike stuck in his hoof. If he had put his foot down it would have gone a lot further in and the damage may not have been repairable.


Try not thinking about dismounting and don't look down. Don't let yourself think "can I, how do I do this, how will I land" etc In fact don't let yourself think at all..
Walk and come to a halt quickly and get off. You don't want to sit up there debating the issue. :D
Left hand hold the reins and mane tight enough to stop him walking off. Both feet out of the stirrups, right hand hold the side of the saddle on the right side, right leg over and lower yourself down bending your knees as you are about to land. If you are short then the last part down will be a scramble down his side but there will be a lot less distance for you to fall.

If you have an instructor who sees this as a problem can they let you have a lesson on some ponies? perhaps at a riding school. Start learning on 13.2 until you get the mechanics sorted and your confidence and then gradually move upwards. If you were very lucky and there was a riding school with a mechanical horse you could have a lesson on that just continually dismounting until it is automatic and get your confidence
 

Skib

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I started riding when I was over 60 and was shown that way to dismount at my first lesson after a very elderly rider slipped and fell on the cobbles at the RS.
It is known as the cavalry guardsman's dismount and the Pony Club Handbook recommends that the horse is held while one dismounts. My old share would stand like a statue and I think my new one would too but so far there has always been someone to hold her for me.
My body protector slides down the saddle with no problem. The important thing is not to bend one's left knee until ones foot is free of the stirrup.
 

Pearlsasinger

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A friend gave me a great tip about dismounting and its saved my knees and ankles many times now!! Take both feet out of stirrups, hold your right stirrup leather with your right hand. Dismount as normal but let the stirrup leather take your weight so you lower yourself down.

This is what I do if I have to dismount without a handy mounting block.
 

Wishfilly

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If you are 5 foot, then dismounting from a tall horse will be a long way! If the stables are amenable, I would ask if you could spend 10 minutes or so at the start or end of one of your lessons dismounting and mounting a smaller animal- even if you are a bit heavier, they may well have a chunky cob who is not tall but will happily stand and let you practice!

Some people do just prefer a block though- my old boss who was an exceptional horsewoman but with some false leg joints used to dismount onto a block at times- I don't think there is any shame in it BUT it is ideal to be able to do without at least in an emergency!
 

Sprout

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I have to mount and dismount using a huge mounting block because of various joint injuries.
If occasionally I have to dismount without one .... well it's not pretty, and I usually end up draped over the neck for support and then swear when my knees and ankles feel the shock wave from hitting the ground!
 
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For dismounting without a mounting block, I don't need to look down. I take both feet out the stirrups, put left hand on the pommel, right on the cantle and swing my right leg over to join my left leg. I then lower my right leg down so that my foot touches the floor and then I repeat but with the left leg x
 
Joined
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Just wanted to update this thread.
I have had a lesson today with a new stables and things went much better. With all the tips combined I was able to dismount much easier! It wasn't perfect (I managed to bruise my arm in the process) but it is something I am working on as much as shortening my reins and not remote controlling the horse.. :p It definitely helped to not think about it and just do it! The trainer even kept repeating "don't think about it just do it" haha
 

Landcruiser

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Having ridden my 14.3 western for the last 12 years, and ridden very little for 30 years before that, I'm now having to teach myself to get out of english saddles. My own horse is currently broken and I'm riding a friend's horse now and then - he's a hand higher than my boy too. It's flipping terrifying! I have no muscle memory for it. The whole both feet out and spin round and launch yourself backwards/slide thing is insane, after sedately stepping down for so long. I'm getting there, but absolutely share your feelings OP, especially as my ankles are usually screaming from the shorter stirrups and the "heels down" by the time I get off.
 
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