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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi!

I've been riding (consistently) for about two years now, and I do lessons usually on treks every weekend. I ride English.

The problem is, I'm only about 5'2", and I usually ride the same 2-3 horses, between 15hh and 15.3hh in height. Mounting at the yard with a block is fine, but if for any reason I have to get on from the ground (such as after falling off) then I really struggle. I was always taught the method of putting a foot in the stirrup, grabbing the mane/reins and saddle, and pushing myself up and onto the horse's back. However, due to my build, for me to even reach a stirrup usually involves massively lengthening it, and kind of just leaves me at an awkward angle where I can't jump up properly, and if I try, the saddle ends up slipping and pulling, which must be very uncomfortable for the horse too (especially since my usual horse is in his early 20's).

When I watch videos and tutorials on mounting, it always looks so easy, even when a tall horse is used. I found out about "vaulting", and I'm wondering what people think about it, if it would work better for short riders? The most common method I saw involved holding the horse's mane, running and leaping, and then swinging your leg over their side (these descriptions might be a bit off, lol). I don't have to worry about mounting from the ground very often, (especially with my school closed right now) but when I find myself needing to, it's super annoying and embarrassing having to struggle, or have someone help me do something that's seemingly so basic.

If anyone knows anything about vaulting and what I need to know, or if there's a better method, please share your ideas!

Thanks!
 

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I'm not familiar with an English saddle so I don't know what you have to hook to but, when my girls were little riding western they kept a loop of baling twine wrapped around the horn. When they got off they would hang the loop on the horn so they could step their right foot in the loop , then their left in the stirrup. I suppose the twine could be kept out of site in a pocket. Other than that you'll just have to find a stump or fence to assist in mounting.
 

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I think it would be better to find something to use as a step. Even a small stump, rock, or a stool you could leave out in the yard. Vaulting onto a horse's back is 1) very difficult even on a short horse, and 2) could surprise your horse and lead to a spook (especially the idea of getting a run for it). If you really want to learn to do it, you should start with a step in a safe place. Learn to hop on by having your belly on his back, then swing your leg over. With your belly on his back, you will have an easier time centering your weight. My daughter (about 5'3) can do it on her 14.2hh horse (she actually does vaulting), but it took a long time. She does not get a run for it, she just takes a big step, then hops on. She does not hold the mane - too easy to rip some out. If you start by practicing in the ring using a step stool, you will gradually get the hang of it and may be able to do it from the ground eventually.

I am 5' and have always managed to find a place to get on my horse (he is about 15hh) if I had to dismount on the trail. Even just a slight slope works - just stand the horse below you. All you need is a few inches. I don't even lengthen my stirrups to get on. I would not try to vault onto my horse's back on the trail - too much can go wrong and your horse could get away from you. Just my 2 cents.
 

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As a fellow Shortie, I totally get it! It's a double edged sword for us, our normal stirrup placing is higher from the ground, so it makes it even more of a challenge to reach it with a foot. But if we lower it to where we can reach it, then as you described,,it places us too low to throw the other leg over easily. I've watched videos and what I've noticed for people of a normal height is that they only have to lift the foot up to the level of their belly or waist, at most. If I don't let the stirrup down, I'd have to lift my foot up to my mid chest and that causes me to lean back to try to achieve it. Sheesh!! The only solution I can share is to find something to stand on....trailer fender, fence, flatbed trailer, downed log OR put the horse lower than you in a depression, ditch, even just a slope down, or have another person give you a leg up. I've had to walk a fair distance before finding a situation that will work. I've had friends who can more easily mount from the ground dismount to help me back up when there is no other option available.

Since you use an English saddle, the vaulting *might* theoretically work,,,but I'd recommend getting lessons rather than trying to learn on your own,,for safety reasons. Plus is it even always feasable to use that method?,,,,,room to run with your horse ...on a narrow,steep, or slick trail? in a group of riders? in a lesson situation. I'm not thinking it is really a viable method.

For me....it is what it is , and I'm not embarrassed to find something to stand on, or to ask for help. Every rider, even the tallest needs help at something, sometime and I'm glad to help if I'm able...tack issues, horse issues,,they just don't have the mounting issues that I have.

Also, you can find a variety of mounting help devices that can be carried with you (probably more easily with a Western Saddle). I haven't tried any of them, but you might want to try one. I've seen foldup portable step stools, Stirrup extenders, and straps that connect on the off side and come across the saddle with a stirrup on the end. Most show videos of a person using the device and how it works.

Good luck. Stay safe. Have fun.
 

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I always find it amazing that any English rider can mount from the ground.


I'm 5'3", and round as a marble. Mounting is hard for my size. I just have to find something to mount off of, and if that thing isn't very much of an aid, then I use it, AND have someone hold the off stirrup down hard to off set my pull on the near side.


Cheat! that's my advice.
 

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I am about 5'6" and overweight, so I always look for an advantage when mounting. Even if I could get on from the ground, which I'm sure I could if I had to, I don't think it's fair for the horse to have me trying to lug myself up on her from the ground if I can help it. So I am always looking for a slight height advantage. If I am lucky, I can find a tree stump or large rock. But even if I can't the ground is rarely flat (where I am anyway) so I can almost always put her downhill of me in a rut or hillside. Just a few inches helps a LOT. But I sympathize with you hardly being able to reach the stirrup.....I know that feeling well! It's like how can you get on if you can't even reach the stirrup!

My goal IS to be strong enough to mount from the ground this summer, to at least know I can so you know what I have been doing? I practice mounting on a fence. I practice it with both legs and find a fence rail at close to stirrup height and just practice mounting the fence. I think that has helped strengthen my legs a lot. And saves me practicing it on the horse. So that is my recommendation.

One of my friends is about the same height as me and has a big 16.1 hand horse and he somehow manages to jump up and catch the stirrup. I don't even know how to describe it.......like an American Indian riding bareback, is the way he mounts, he sort of jumps at the side of the horse and manages to catch the stirrup......it's really cool! But I know I am not athletic enough for that!
 

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I'm also 5'2". I'm not sure if it's just me, but I cannot mount with the vault method. You can certainly try to see if it works for you, but make sure you have a go at just taking that first big step a few times to know your horse won't spook.

I can mount my 15hh horse from the ground, both with a saddle and bareback. Can you take your foot up and raise it to waist height with your knee folded against your chest? I swear that's the only reason I am capable of mounting from the ground, is flexibility, and very little to do with strength. I can fold my leg enough against me that I can get my foot in the stirrup from the ground without any lengthening or jumping. I can also mount from the ground bareback by placing my lower leg over my horse's back, and then jumping/shimmying my way up (not gonna lie, it looks pretty stupid, but it works). That requires me to be able to lift my foot to about eye-level!

You could consider spending some free time at home stretching and increasing your flexibility. If you are not naturally flexible, it might take a lot of practice - or maybe you'll find something that works better for you. I also love @trailhorserider's idea about practicing on a fence!
 

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Im 5'3 and (sometimes) have to mount racehorses at times, so I'm always used to getting a leg up. Are racehorses are quarters, so there not super tall (14.3 hh and 15.3 hh). At time, I try to get on the shorter one by myself and try to find something as a leg up (such as a rock or a mound of dirt).
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks for all the replies so far! I like to think that I'm flexible (I'm good at pilates), but I just practiced getting my foot as high as a fence and nearly destroyed my pelvis in the process, so maybe I could work on that? The problem is that, even if I reach the stirrup, it leaves my "ground leg" at an awkward position where it doesn't have the strength for jumping.

About the vaulting, I wasn't thinking of the running kind, if that's what anyone was thinking, I meant more the standing and hauling yourself up kind? If that helps. I can fix my flexibility and strength, but I can't make my legs a few inches taller unfortunately. I could practice on fences and walls at home, but if it's difficult or uncomfortable for the horse I wouldn't bother with trying to vault.

Just wondering, if I'm trying to make mounting easier by using a natural hill, is it hard for horses to stand still on a slope like that, especially with someone trying to get on them? Thanks.
 

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Ground mounting can be hard on the horse's back, and hard on your knees. I try to avoid it if possible. I'm 5'3" (age 42) and can mount a 17 plus hand horse from the ground. This involves basically cranking my toe into the stirrup even a tiny bit, and then using mane, saddle, all my arm strength, jumping on the ground leg, and then hauling into the saddle. It's just not good.

I will find any way not to do this. A ditch, a downhill slope (this is not hard on a horse), a stump, a fence, an electrical box. Hopefully where you ride there is some kind of feature you can stand on. Sometimes I've been on the beach and walked a couple blocks to find a log to get on top of, or even a tall plant.
Unless you have a pretty good vertical jump, vaulting is very difficult. I am not a great jumper. Growing up, my volleyball playing friend could leap onto horses but I did not have the jump to get high enough to swing over even a short horse, no matter how much I practiced.

If you're 5'11" on a 14.3 hand horse and getting into a western saddle with long stirrups, you will wonder why everyone can't mount from the ground. If you're 5'3" on a 17 hand horse getting into an english saddle, it is a different story.
 

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Ergh I'm 5'5" with bad knees. I feel ya. Most days I use a mounting block or any other readily available mounting aide. When I used to ride Thunder I had to drop the tailgate on my truck to get on that gigantic hairy moose. I'm glad I never fell off of him because not only would it have been a looooong way down, but there's next to no chance I'd have been able to climb back on again. Dreams is dead on 15 h and he's about as big as I want to go for the time being.

-- Kai
 
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