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Hi Cowboy Bob,

I was wondering what is the significance of mounting the horse on the left side? Why don't people do it on the right side?

Where did this tradition originate from??

Thanks for all your help!

-- L. S.


Mounting from the left is more than a tradition. It has a serious safety value.

You can see the reason very quickly by looking at the two photos below. Although the pictures were taken half a world apart, you'll notice that both the U.S. cavalryman and the Siamese soldier are wearing their long weapon on the left.

Horses -- and riders -- all over the world learn that a rider should mount on the horse's left side for the simple reason that most people are right handed. Because of that fact, all soldiers wear their swords on the left. Trying to mount from the right would get the rider and his sword tangled up and probably get the horse poked in the process. The result could be a horrible mess!

Even when riders don't wear swords, it's still a good idea to mount from the left -- again, because most people are right handed. In order to leave the right hand free for roping, writing, opening gates, or whatever other task may need to be done, the reins are held in the left hand. If a rider were to mount from the right, he'd have to switch the reins from the right hand to the left, momentarily losing solid control at the very time a horse is most likely to act up. Some trainers like a horse to be accustomed to being mounted from either side (in case of emergencies, such as a rider with an injured left leg), but the norm is the left side mount.

U.S. cavalryman with sabre
Photo courtesy Western History/Genealogy Department, Denver Public Library

Right: William Henry Jackson photograph of a mounted Siamese cavalryman; courtesy Library of Congress
Siamese cavalryman with long sword

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