As I mentioned before, there are quite a few horses in my upcoming novel. In the 1860s horses were a big part of daily life. They provided transportation. They carried loads, pulled wagons, carriages, and more. And, of course, horses were used by the Pony Express.
Did you know that it’s not true that a horse won’t let you mount from the right side? Mounting from the left side is just a tradition. Soldiers mounted their horses on the left side so that their swords, which they anchored over their left leg, wouldn’t harm their horse’s back.
However, it is important that a horse let its rider mount and dismount from either side, especially on the trail. On the trail, it is not unusual to encounter a rocky cliff, mud hole, or other trail hazard that may require the rider to mount or dismount from the right instead of the left.
In addition, mounting and dismounting a horse from either side will enable the horse to use the muscles on the left and right side of its spine equally. This may help prevent an injury to one side of the horse’s back.
It’s also important for a rider to listen to his horse. The sounds horses make mean something:
Nicker: If your horse makes a sound that resembles a soft tapping, with its lips closed, often with its head raised, it is saying “Hi, I’m glad to see you.”
Blowing or Snorting: If your horse is frightened by something, they will make a blowing or snorting sound. Some will also snort when they are excited.
Neighing: A neigh is a long, loud, high-pitched sound. This can mean your horse is experiencing anxiety or confidence. Also, if one horse neighs when in a group of horses out in a field or pasture, he is warning the group that he sees something unusual.
Sighing: This is a sound you’ll want to hear before you mount. The horse will usually put its head down and release a deep fluttering breath through his nostrils. This means the horse is relaxed and calm.