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SWR Blog: Do it from the left, right?

It’s a widely accepted “rule” that horses should be haltered, led, saddled, bridled and mounted from the left side.

But, why?

Now, it’s true that halters generally buckle on the left side. Ok. We tighten our cinch on the left side. There’s that. And since the majority of people are right-handed, it’s just more comfortable to have the lead rope in our right hand as we lead from the horses left. So, it seems the only reason we do all of these things from the left is pure personal convenience.

I want my horses, however, to be mentally and physically balanced. This means, I should be able to lead, halter, saddle and mount my horse from either side. That said, most horses have a good side and a bad side, generally indicated by whether they’re more comfortable seeing you in their left eye or their right eye.

But don’t avoid the bad side. Instead, help your horse by improving it! Take time to teach your horse that he can stand quietly while you saddle and mount from the right side as well, making sure he’s just as comfortable with you in his right eye when you’re leading. Not only does this keep us safer on the ground, but it helps keep our horse’s mind balanced and more prepared to handle the unexpected “boogie men” that will inevitably be encountered on the trail.

Stay safe, keep riding and above all, never stop thinking.

Jon Lindquist
SWR Director of Horsemanship Programs

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