The Left-Sided Myth

You must get on your horse from the left and only walk a dog on your left side, or else… Something horrible will happen! Right?

Okay, rules like that have their place. Soldiers with swords would mount from the left side to keep their sword, hanging from their belt, away from the horse. (Yeah, horses that can do things like THIS.) And hunters going out with their hunting dogs had their dog on the left side, to keep their right hand free to hold the gun. That’s how these rules came to be.

That’s great and all, but no reason for all of us to have these rules about which side our animal is on. We want our horse to be balanced on both sides. In order for them to be, we have to be balanced, too. That means being able to mount from the right side just as well as the left.

If you haven’t done that in a while (or ever), give it a try. It’ll feel awkward… It’ll feel like you’ve never ridden a horse in your life… but it’s worth it!

I’m also so tired of hearing people talk about how dogs can only be walked on the left side. Why? Sure, everyone has their preferences. Maybe you are right-handed and want to have your hand free to open doors and hold things. But every dog should be able to walk next to you on either side.

Sometimes I walk with a dog who has never been walked on the right side. The entire time, he’ll try to swing behind me to the left side. Just like mounting a horse from the right side, it can feel awkward for a dog who has only ever walked left to suddenly be on the right. I find that very limiting. I want to be able to take any dog on either side if I need to and have them be relaxed and ok with it.

The dogs and horses don’t know about these rules… that’s just us. They only know our habits and how we’ve trained them. So, naturally, it feels weird for them when we switch things up.

That’s my challenge for you… do everything „backwards“ for at least a week. If you mount from the left (or right) side, do it from the opposite side. Walk your dog on the other side and switch up anything else that has become a habit for you.

Tell me how it goes in the comments!


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