Embarrassing- can’t mount in my dressage saddle

I’ve spent the last 35 years riding hunters, switched to dressage not that long ago. Slowly been working on opening my hips but I find that I don’t know how to mount with a longer stirrup and higher cantle. It may just be that I’m not strong enough to throw my leg out to the side like I need to, but I’m feeling really stupid. Anyone else make the switch and struggle to get on?

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I always rode in stiff tall Dressage boots and found that they simply were not friendly to ground mounting. I always used a block. Something about the ankle flexibility with me. My horse was little as well, still just didnt work


Are you trying to stand up straight? Try leaning more forward to make picking your leg up easier.


A tall mounting block is your best friend (and your horse’s). Leaning forward as you swing your right leg over will help. I struggled with that, and dismounting even more so, when I hurt my back last year.


I’ve got a 4 step mounting block, but I’m still doing something wrong…I just can’t tell what. Maybe it’s where I’m putting my hands? It feels ridiculous to admit that I can’t figure it out, it’s like my short stirrup muscle memory takes over.

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This may be my problem. I also wonder if the taller mounting block means I’m not “jumping” enough to get the leverage to swing properly.

Thankfully my boys are patient as I experiment with this but I don’t want to annoy them!

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I use a three step mounting block but have to lenthen my mounting stirrup to get on my young horse because he is so tall. Maybe you have to shorten yours to swing your leg over?


That is what I’ve been doing. Jacking the left stirrup up then dropping it. Such a pain though!

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I can so sympathize. I ride with a respectably long dressage leg, but my trainer who is the same height as me has legs that apparently go all the way up to her armpits… she rides 3 holes longer than I do. If I forget to shorten my stirrups after she has ridden, its an undignified struggle to get on!

This might be WAY too basic for you, but in the event that there’s something helpful for you in here, Amelia Newcomb just posted this video a couple of weeks ago:

I think I’m understanding that the “swing your leg over” part is what is catching you up but maybe the demo of hand placement and leaning weight over will trigger something useful for you.


Totally this!

This is not ridiculous at all.

Are you taking lessons with someone? It is probably worth it to mention you need to figure this out and you would like their input. Then they can watch you mount and help you figure out what you need to change to make it easier.

A person who is so uncoordinated that I always make mounting look like it is hard.


No need to be embarrassed. I about killed myself trying to get into a western saddle last year.


It is more common than what you think. It is probably the higher cantle causing the issue. I would try different hand placements to see if it helps along wth the other suggestions. I have also seen a few people grab the opposite stirrup leather to help them with their balance for the leg swing. Just be careful in whatever you do to not fall.


I am old with back and hip issues so getting on with my dressage saddle requires some thought and technique.
First and most importantly, I figured out I had to lean farther forward. But that was difficult until I moved my hands halfway up my horse’s neck.
The next helpful change was thinking about keeping my right leg bent. Apparently I had been letting it straighten and that made it tougher to swing over.


Thank you!

I think I may see something.

I think I’m at more of a perpendicular angle when I put my foot in the stirrup without using my knee as leverage when I mount. So typically I’m trying to bounce myself up there and get my other foot in the other stirrup before I land (years of riding touchy green beans).

Now the next question is can I lean far enough to get my leg high enough to clear the cantle…I may not be strong enough to do that yet since I never really had to!

I was but she is taking a little break from teaching and my horses are at my own barn. At the time, my young horse was rather impatient at the mounting block (good enough to stand for a “mom knows how to do this” mounting, not good enough for futzing) so I did a great deal of work getting him rock solid there. He is now :slight_smile: and now picks me up.

I think the knee part is key here. I used to have my hand in a position where I couldn’t get it out of the way fast enough (on the opposite stirrup leather to help balance the saddle) but fixed that.

The knee appears to be crucial to success here and I definitely have never tried using it as leverage. Going to try this today!


Mounting block every time. Saves the horses back.


I have a 4 step, a 3 step and a 2 step. The problem is not getting to the stirrup, it’s swinging the leg over once I’m there. I’m used to using a lot of momentum to pop me lightly across and into the tack. With a long stirrup and tall mounting block…there isn’t any momentum. Just me, feeling like an idiot as I try to scramble in there.


I have a periodically c&*# right hip which can make mounting a problem as I can’t swing my leg over. A high cantle is definitely an obstruction and so many dressage saddles have them.


Do you have a workaround? My cantle isn’t particularly high (it’s an older Passier GG that I’m transitioning into as I see if I can get my hips open) but even that seems tricky. I’m just not used to having to use those muscles to swing my leg like that.

I have had double hip surgeries to repair labral tears and osteoplasty to remove FAI impingements that I had in both hips. So I’m guessing that something is weak there too. I’m working on clamshells, leg lifts etc to see if I can lift my leg higher with my other leg straightish, but it’s definitely a WIP.

It may be that I have to shorten my stirrup for awhile as I work this out and then just work my way into it…I just can’t figure out why it’s so darned hard! :slight_smile: