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  1. Not the Territory

    Not the Territory Member

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    Mounting a Horse

    Discussion in 'Research' started by Not the Territory, Jan 22, 2020.

    I grew up around some horses but don't know much about horse riding. In particular, do people who ride horses have a preferred side to mount from?

    I ask because it comes up as a scraplet of evidence regarding someone's past. A priest recalls that a now deceased farmhand had only ever mounted his horse from its left side, even when less convenient than the right. This piece adds to evidence that the hand had once been a fighter or perhaps even a soldier (right-handed sword fighting is standardized in the current army, and so the scabbard sits on the left side of the waist).

    It's meant to be a minor supporting detail, but I'm wondering if vestigial scabbard awareness is simply just as or even less likely than basic habit.
     
  2. Earp

    Earp Contributor Contributor

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    I don't ride, but I had always heard that one should mount from the horse's left. I thought it was the horses' preference.
     
  3. Not the Territory

    Not the Territory Member

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    Interesting. Some people are saying that horses are only one-sided if trained that way. Sometimes it goes right into the breed. Left is sort of 'standard' in the real world anyway. This is fantasy so I get some slight wiggle room.

    I think I'll keep it and just acknowledge its low significance with some lamp shade: could just be that particular horse, could be the horse he learned to ride on, etc.
     
  4. Hammer

    Hammer Contributor Contributor

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    I don't ride horses (or back women) but I always mount my bike from its left. Same with motorbikes. It feels more natural to me as a right handed person, but certainly I think if I had a sword strapped to my left leg the risk of auto-castration would prevent my trying to get my left leg over.

    There is a school of thought that this is why we drive on the left in the UK - mounting the horse from the side of the road that would be the direction of travel. The Americans adopted driving on the right to confound the hated Brits.
     
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  5. Xoic

    Xoic Member

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    Interesting. I notice when I ride a bike I often go no-handed, and it's always the left hand that flashes lightning-like to grab the bar and regain control in the event of a near-crash or starting to capsize one way or the other (I'm right-handed).

    I've heard it's because we're cross-wired—the right hand is connected to the left brain hemisphere and vice verse, and the left hemisphere is the more linguistic/logical of the two, more 'conscious thought' oriented, while the right is the creative and poetic one, more unconscious. The unconscious of course is much faster and can process information in parallel, many operations at a time, but comes only to rapid snap decisions. The conscious mind deliberates much more deeply and thinks only in serial, one operation at a time, so is much slower but can ponder the wisdom of those instant unconscious decisions after the fact as it were.

    In fact I believe that's what the conscious mind developed as, a sort of fact checker—a way of reconsidering the rapid choices reached by instinct.

    Oh, forgot to add—I don't think 'boarding' a horse on its left side is vestigial scabbard-awareness so much as preference for the left side which holds the deep wisdom of the unconscious and the one you want to rely on for those split-second decisions. Just like my natural inclination to keep the left hand ready for immediate course corrections on the bike.
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2020
  6. The Dapper Hooligan

    The Dapper Hooligan (V) ( ;,,;) (v) Contributor

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    I was thinking the same thing. Horses are weird.

    If your world is a medieval or pseudo-medieval setting, the fact that he knows how to ride would be more indicative that he wasn't always a simple farm hand. Horses back then were expensive and usually reserved for the wealthy. Not even a lot on knights could afford to maintain them and farms generally used a communal team of oxen for ploughing and other beasts of burden, or their feet, for transportation.
     
  7. Caveriver

    Caveriver Active Member

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    Horses are always trained to mount from the left side. A horse trained to mount from the right would be a special case. This harkens back to the times you are referring to-- assuming you fight with your primary weapon in your right hand, you could mount without putting it down. This still allows you to grab onto the horse's mane or the front of the saddle (and hold the reins, so they don't run off with you) for balance and control. This way, you are never unarmed.

    Since you mean this to be a telling detail as to the farmer's history, I'd say you are spot on... aside from the fact that everyone would have done the same thing.
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2020
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  8. Mikelindo

    Mikelindo Member Supporter

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    I don't ride, but my wife grew up riding. She says that a horse can be (and should be) mounted on both sides. I believe that mounting a horse on the left originated from calvary riders - whose swords would jam into their ribs when trying to mount their horse from the right.
     
  9. Caveriver

    Caveriver Active Member

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    I agree with her. A well trained horse should be versatile as to mounting side... but that is not how the majority are trained. And honestly, mounting on the right also takes some practice on the part of the rider.
     
  10. Catrin Lewis

    Catrin Lewis Contributor Contributor Community Volunteer

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    Something else you'll want to consider: Does this culture have stirrups, or do they use a mounting block?

    If stirrups, the left foot goes into the left stirrup first. Then the right leg goes over the beast.

    I screwed this up on a class trip to Mexico when I was 15, and this cute Mexican guy asked if I wanted to ride one of his horses with him and meet his sisters. He laughed his head off when I led with the right foot (I "knew" better from books, but it made sense at the time), but got me straightened out and we had a nice canter around the corral.

    And no, our teacher-chaperone didn't say a darn thing about it. We got away with a lot on that trip.
     
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  11. Not the Territory

    Not the Territory Member

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    These are all good points and I wish I could address each one. I will probably take that 'evidence' out; it would read silly in most cases.

    It seems like a horse trained in the modern era has at least a higher chance of being versatile. Same with horses that have particular jobs. However, this is ye olde travelling horse.
     
  12. Catrin Lewis

    Catrin Lewis Contributor Contributor Community Volunteer

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    An "ambling pad," eh?
     
  13. Not the Territory

    Not the Territory Member

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    'Pad.'

    Hm.

    My lexicon hath expanded.
     
  14. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I suspect if you trained a horse to accept a mounting from both sides, you could do it. But you'd have to start at the very beginning of its training. Once a horse gets into that habit, of a rider approaching and mounting up from the left, anything else will spook it.

    I believe, from my research I did for my novel, set in the Old West, that many of the Plains Indian groups usually trained their horses to accept a rider who mounts from the right-hand (hoof?) side of the horse. That would have made an Indian pony difficult to transition to a settler's saddle and mounting technique. (And vice-versa?) I don't know how universal this is—or was—but apparently it was worth noting in the history books.
     
  15. Maggie May

    Maggie May Active Member

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    If you are looking for something to give him away and involves a horse. Once in the saddle the military trained rider would have a very straight posture, someone joy riding or a cowboy tend to be more relaxed in the saddle.
     
  16. cosmic lights

    cosmic lights Contributor Contributor

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    A well trained horse should stand to be mounted from both sides. Horses see differently to people. We use both eyes to see one picture, straight in front of us, but horses see two separate pictures, left and the right. It's also good for the rider to be able to mount from both sides, that way you don't have one side weaker than the other.

    Actually, the whole solider thing is a myth I was told but a common misconception, although I do think it's why soldiers mouthed from the left, but nobody else needed to.

    The eye sight and brain of the horse was not understood back then. It was believed by many that the horses brain worked as too separate half's. (Show a horse an object on the left - no reaction. Show him the same object on the right - reaction) This is because there is a mental wall in the brain and the left side doesn't tell the right what it's seeing, so the horse is seeing the same object for the first time on each side. The right side is the "reactive" side. The horse is far more likely to react instinctively (rear, bolt, kick, spook) to things in the right of them. The left is the thinking and rationalizing side this would get a response. You wont responses from horses not reactions. That's why people began mounting from the left. You also saddle and bridle from the left. Lead on the left. Most saddles have the girth fastening on the left. Of course, they didn't understand the brain but people did notice horses seemed less reactive from that side.

    But most people wont know why you mount a horse from the left, unless another horsey person has told them and it's usually the solider story. It maybe a combination of all of those things. I just know that when training young horses I got better results on the left hand side.
     
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  17. TScream

    TScream New Member

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    The "correct" side to mount on is the left side. But as others have said a well-trained horse should mount from both sides. As a rider, I find it 100 times easier to mount from the left than the right and will only mount on the right if I am training or if it is dangerous to mount on the left due to terrain. I think it's easier from the left for a couple of reasons, 1st its the side I have the most practice with and 2nd I can use my right arm to pull with. During mounting the left hand should be on the mane and the right on the saddle horn or pommel (front of the saddle). The left provides balance while the right gives leverage to "pull" the rider in the saddle as they push with the left foot in the stirrup. As noted above mounting blocks make life easier and it is less strain on the horses back. It is important to have the horse trained to stand by the mounting block or like my horse move over to the mounting block. A horse that moves away from the block or in general can be dangerous to mount.

    Sorry for rambling, horses are kinda my thing. I hope this helps.
     
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  18. KiraAnn

    KiraAnn Active Member

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    Of course, if you have a row of cavalrymen all trying to mount at the same time, it works better from one side. Otherwise, one could wind up with a Sabre in their crotch!
     
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