Why Do People do Almost Everything on the Left Side of the Horse?
As the beginner rider progresses and learns more about the horse and horse care, eventually comes the question, ”Why do we do this on the left side of the horse?”. The short answer is “because we have always done things on the left side”. The long answer takes us back to the beginning when horses where first used and domesticated.
Along with the riding and domestication of horses came the using of horses during warfare. Long pikes and swords were the weapons of choice in the day. Most knights and fighters were right handed so they wore their swords on the left side of their bodies for ease in drawing the weapon.
Adding the horse into the mix of swords and pikes was not an easy task. Before the advent of the stirrup people who rode needed a leg up or had to swing up on the horse unaided. They found that if they mounted the horse on its left side they had a better chance of not hitting the horse or themselves with the weapons they carried on their left side. Slowly all the tack and saddles changed to reflect this left side preference. If they were to mouth from the right, their sword would be flying around over the horse's back mid mount, and they would have to worry about not stabbing their horse or themselves as they sat down.
Even to this day the left or “near” side of the horse is where we do most of our work. Getting on and off, tightening the girth and saddle. The right side of the horse or the “off” side doesn't get overlooked however. It is noted that all horses should be trained to stand while being mounted from either side for general usefulness.
The swords and pikes are long gone, but the tradition remains. We don't have to worry about our swords as we mount but we will continue to mount from the left side of the horse, as all those who have ridden before us have done and all those after us will do as well.