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"Gripping too tightly with the knees pushes the thighs upwards, and causes the rider to be more or less raised out of the saddle."
"...the seat should be maintained by balance and not by grip."
"When the hind legs come under your seat you can feel each hip move underneath your seat bones. The seat controls the energy that the hind legs send forward along the spine. The seat then dictates the rhythm, tempo. Stride length and direction of the horse's movement."
"...the rider cannot sit correctly on a hollow back."
"The correct seat is relaxed and unconstrained...."
"...I may point out that a rider who has a good seat sits on a saddle in the same manner as he would do on a chair."
"There were two things that happened that I can say were the most important things that helped me to improve my horsemanship — that being the proper way to sit on a horse, and learning to feel of those feet."
Bill Dorrance relates how a young woman explained the best way to sit on a horse. "She said, 'It's just like it is when you're standing on the ground. Your shoulders are balanced above your hips, and you have a little curve forward in your back. You're standing balanced and your feet are in under you where they should be in order to get your hips balanced right over them. When you're walking along in good form, your body is fairly balanced on the horse, and it's sort of like it is when you're standing on the ground.'"
"I learned the importance of how and where to sit, depending on what you want the horse to do."
"... looking down can cause a rider to tip forward much more than necessary. This can interfere with the horse's body position."
"The more area you encompass with your eyes, the more you'll be aware of your seat."
"If you balance the various parts of the body correctly, one above the other, you will reduce the amount of muscle tension or strain used to keep the body upright and, in doing so, save the energy for other uses."
"If the bones are in the right place, then the muscles need to do less work, resulting in fewer tensions."
"One half of the people I teach do not sit squarely...."
"You could tend to sit with your torso tipped a bit too forward or back and cannot find the feeling of true upright balance. Try leaning your torso first definitely too far forward and then too far back. Notice that in each case you need your legs to hold you on, which means tightening your hip joints and thigh muscles.
"If you roll your thighs back and/or tighten your buttocks, you will tend to go up and off your horse. If you depend on squeezing with your legs, you will do the same."
"The horse's spine, through the withers (at the shoulder), has very little motion. From there to the loin, the possibilities for swing and motion in the spine increase. So from the horse's point of view, and from yours also, the farther forward you sit on his back, the more comfortable it is for him and the more stable it is for you."
"At any gait, if you stiffen a portion of your seat, the horse's stride will become less fluid and powerful."
"Don't block your weight at the hips, knees, or ankles. Don't pinch the saddle with your thighs, knees, or calves. The horse will be uncomfortable if you squeeze too much and will not move freely."
"It's also important not to neglect your ankles. Stiffening your ankles tenses your entire body almost as much as setting your jaw does."
"With your following seat you can teach him [the horse] the pleasurable sensation of stepping under with his hind legs to create long strides."
"As you allow the horse to lift and drop the individual parts of your seat, you are encouraging him to use his back — which is the key to self-carriage."
"Balance is achieved through symmetry."
"Your hands should be carried low and relaxed. With a bend in your elbow, the forearm of your rein hand should form a straight line to your horse's mouth."
"...if you aren't centered on your horse, your position can hinder his performance."
"An independent seat means that you can give an aid, or use one part of your body, without causing unwanted motion elsewhere in your body."
"All other things being equal, the rider with the balanced, independent seat will be more effective in communicating her wishes to her horse."
"You're seat is the primary aid for influencing rhythm and tempo."
"Once the balance is re-established under the weight of a rider, and if that rider is no longer disrupting the horse's rhythm of movement, then the additional weight is no longer a problem for the horse. The demand on the rider is that, in every movement he must find his way into, and sit in, the movement of the horse. He must find the common centre of gravity with the horse and passively go along with the rhythm of the movement."
"...make certain that you are sitting absolutely straight on your horse, that your weight is distributed equally between the two halves of your seat and that your shoulders are always carried level."
"The buttocks should be well away from the back of the saddle."
"If the rider's legs do not hang low enough when his weight is on the stirrups, he will push himself out of the saddle."
"The heel should be a little lower than the toe, but not too much because that would cause the legs to become rigid."
"Correct balance is a far better method of riding than holding onto a horse with the strength of the legs."
"The most important thing of all is that the rider will never be off balance. This is the greatest of the faults a rider can commit because a sensitive horse will go either well or poorly, depending on whether or not the rider is in a state of continuous equilibrium with the moving horse."
"From a correct central position, the intensity of the weight aids required to adjust the balance of the horse may, by consequence, become much more subtle and fine."
"Only be sitting tall with the seat supported under the fork as well as by the buttocks will the spine come into its natural alignment of 'three gently curving arches'."
"Sports physiotherapist Anne Gerard from Cheshire, who worked with the British athletic Olympic team, has this to say on the subject of back and pelvic posture. 'The upright pelvis allows for correct curvature of the spine which, working with the discs, smooths out and harmonises the effects of bodyweight, muscle pull and thrust due to the impact of the feet whether in walking, running, jumping or riding. This balance, which co-ordinates correct locomotion, is vital for any athlete whether on or off the horse.'"
"...it has to be recognised that one of the most damaging things an unfit person can do is to over-accentuate the natural lordosis [the bend above the hips] of the spine by collapsing the waist and allowing the tummy to sag forwards and down....Projecting the centre of gravity towards the wither is, however, a very different feeling from either tensing the tummy or letting it flop."
"By sitting tall, you allow the horse to round up to you; by making the seat aids delicate, the muscles have a chance to flex under the rider and the horse learns to move forward with freedom and fluidity as well as to elevate as he grows in strength."
"...'maintain a contact through the seatbones and the fork' — the three 'points' of contact — does not mean come off everything else and sit on your pubic bone...; neither does it deny the existence of other connecting tissue or, indeed, padding and fat which exist around the seat area and which protect the seatbones."
"...the three-point contact merely implies that the rider feels they are sitting on a full contact of the pelvic floor."
"Pushing against the stirrup with an exaggerated deep heel creates stiffness in the hamstrings, causing the whole seat to slide back."
"It is the depth of the knee which is the secret to a balanced seat...."
"In riding, we should have the sensation of letting go and extending these front thigh muscles so that the knee may take it rightful place against the saddle. This a very different feeling from pushing down forcefully or tensing the hamstrings at the back of the thigh, which tends to block the horse by tensing the calf muscles."
"For riders who have difficulty in letting go and stretching through the front of the leg, I ask them to imagine they are about to kneel."
"Apart from lack of tone and general stiffness, the greatest enemy to achieving a balanced seat is nervous tension which, even in a normally supple, athletic person, can create havoc."
"Logically, the deep seat which brings all the connecting surfaces to bear without grip is going to be very much more adhesive than one which reduces that contact to a minimum."
"The trick, if you can call it that, is to learn to ride with a seat which gives total control whatever the horse wears in his mouth."
"...we need to remember that our eyes and face govern where the horse looks. The horse that 'falls' off the track or into the circle is one who has merely responded to the gravitational pull of a rider who may not even realise what it is they have asked with their body."
"There is a real difference between the supple, spongy quality of an adhesive seat and legs and the sloppiness of untoned limbs and wobbling hips."
"The seat...is not only your buttocks but also your upper legs, the part of your body that presses continually against the saddle (or if riding bareback, the horse's back). This is your greatest natural riding aid for the simple reason that it has the most contact with the horse."
"Rigidity of your pelvis is the enemy of good riding."
"Good riding comes from being in a place from which we can safely and clearly communicate what we want to our horses in a way they can easily understand and easily get their part of the job done."
"A good seat makes for good communication."
"The end results of a secure seat, clear communication, and wise job assignments are improved performance, health, and even beauty for both horse and rider."
"In every riding sport, a good seat uses the horse's movements to the rider's advantage, so more movement from the horse makes for an even better seat."
"A good seat makes it easier for the horse to work and easier for the horse to understand our aids."
"Move your pelvis a bit in various directions, and you will see that your platform orientation makes a big difference especially in how your vertebrae line up and how your upper body and legs are arranged in relation to each other."
"Our legs will hang differently out of our hip joints on a wider horse than on a narrower one, and a smaller horse is going to offer a different contact area and carry our legs differently than a tall one."
"Different sports...require different ranges of motion for the rider to agree with the changes in the horse's center if gravity, so it makes sense that our platform/contact area relationships vary among the horse sports, too."
"The question isn't which platform and contact area is right, but which platform and contact area you have at the moment and how that is working for you on this horse, for this stride."
"If you are gripping the saddle with your thighs or knees, your legs can't slip down as far as they otherwise would and your weight won't get fully to the stirrups."
"There is a skeletal arrangement that does not require any muscles to clench at all, although some may do so just out of habit."
"Letting muscles release lets your skeleton move into its natural balance, without engaging more muscles to push our bones around into some external appearance."
"A good seat is not a matter of holding a particular position. There is a big difference between adopting a pose versus providing yourself free range of motion so we work with gravity instead of against it."
"The highly desired depth of seat doesn't come from holding certain angles or from sitting heavily on the saddle. It comes from allowing our weight down along the horse's sides, so our upper body is well-supported and well-connected, so we can move fluidly with the horse. Depth of seat feels accurate and fitting, rather than stiff or heavy."
"Our best security is to let our knees down and forward into the saddle's sweet spot and let your weight travel on toward the stirrups."
"What has come to be called the rider's seat is simply the best skeletal arrangement from which to most easily stay secure and to communicate with the horse."
"A good seat is all about finding an arrangement for your particular skeleton that allows all the ways you may need to move to adapt to and enhance the horse's movement."
"A good seat gives the rider balance and freedom of movement, and therefore security and responsiveness in our riding."
"Certainly horses are aware of our balance and respond accordingly, so it is no great mystery that good posture and free movement are inherently rewarding in riding."
"Everything changes when our interface with the horse is our primary source of feedback while learning to ride."
"...our bodies will tend to arrange themselves into excellent form in riding if we are guided by the concept of how the horse experiences us as riders. Just tuning in very closely to your interface with the horse puts you in a receptive, exploratory mode, rather than a broadcast mode."
"When we use the horse's motion to help us get more secure with each stride, every move a horse makes is a source of security instead of a disturbance to overcome."
"We can use the horse's motion positively to secure our seat and to make our communications to the horse accurate and timely."
"A good seat would keep the rider secure and keep the rider's balance consistent with the horse's center of gravity unless the rider intended otherwise."
"A good seat uses the horse's movements to create security."
"...being rigid is not the same as being still in relation to the horse's movement."
"Trying to maintain a rigid, static position while the horse is in motion is tiring for a rider, and it restricts rather than promotes the horse's athleticism."
"If our legs joints are rigid, the upward lift of the platform will also carry our legs up and away from the stirrup."
"If we are tight or squeezed together at the tops of our thighs, the horse's lift tosses us out of the saddle or rolls our platform a bit if the horse offers anything like free forward movement."
"Our platform must also be arranged with one seatbone, one shoulder, and one ear on either side of the horse's spine, or the lifting motion of the horse's back will swing our platform and even our whole torso sideward rather than upward."
"...pushing down on a horse's back [when riding] is akin to someone digging knuckles into your back. Horses tend to tighten and withdrawn their backs from this kind of treatment, just like people do."
"A seamless seat has three significant advantages: comfort, good diagnostics, and clarity of communication."
"A horse that feels the rider as very quiet in relation to its movement need not defend itself physically or mentally against the rider's seat's bips and pops and friction."
"A rider with a more receptive seat would be aware something was up earlier in the game, and he could take care of small problems instead of waiting for them to get worse and harder to deal with."
"Just like a good conversationalist and a good teacher have excellent listening skills, probably the most important part of riding is to develop a receptive, quiet seat."
"A good seat is not a position. It is a way of using the horse's movement to our advantage to gain security, accurate feedback, and clear communication. Form is not an end it itself; it's an arrangement from which we can best receive information, clearly evaluate events, and participate in a two-way body language conversation."
"Sitting tall, elegantly, and looking beyond our horse's ears — even well to the horizon — helps keep our spine well-aligned."
"As your horse's trust of your seat and its physical ability to activate its back develops, the horse's back can follow ever more generous invitations from your platform for more movement. At this point, things change from the rider following the horse into the horse following the rider's seat, staying connected with it through the saddle as the rider moves bigger and more freely."
"An active seat is not a digging seat."
"You cannot coerce a horse with your seat without creating resistance somewhere in the horse's gait mechanics."
"In a limiting seat, the rider intentionally moves less than the horse moves."
"Staying tuned in to footfall during transitions, not just before and after them, will help keep your seat moving freely."
"Irrespective of the horse's breed or riding discipline, a supple riding seat and the natural balance of the horse must be developed before more advanced training exercises."
"The rider's seat is the most important form of communication, serving as the interface between rider and horse."
"The perfect balanced seat is the most valuable asset of every rider."
"Excessive ambition, pressure to succeed and an exaggerated sense of self-worth make a quiet and supple seat impossible!"
"...if a rider sits completely down in the saddle on a horse with a stiff back, the horse's back muscles tense even more."
"Professionals and experienced amateurs should be comfortable with all seat types, saddles and stirrup lengths."
"Professional riders should work diligently and regularly on their seat, particularly since suppleness of the seat is easily lost when working with many stiff horses."
"Without a supple, well-balance seat, tactful and correct use of the aids is impossible."
"Rhythm depends on the supple seat of the rider — a rider can sit in the saddle with such feeling and suppleness that the horse builds only the slightest defensive tension in his back."
"A stiff, tense seat with hard fists and tight shoulders always leads to a stiff poll, a tight back and tight haunches in the horse."
"A good, supple balanced seat and independent, quiet, sensitive hands are the foundation of good riding."
"When a clamping or shoving rider's seat blocks the horse's back and tightens his trunk muscles, the function of the lower muscle chain is likewise hindered."
"A tense driving seat always leads to a tense horse."
"From the beginning, you must avoid sitting on the horse with squeezing legs. If the rider clamps the adductor muscles of the thigh, that tension is transmitted immediately to the body of the horse — the horse clamps, too."
"Before you can hope to get the best results in training your horse, you need to learn how to sit on him to make it easiest to aid him."
"With your back muscles relaxed your seat can go with the motion of the horse's back while your upper body remains independent."
"Riding without stirrups is the best way to develop your seat, but be sure you do not hang on with your legs."
"The way to learn to ride so you become part of the horse is to establish first your correct posture and suppleness."
"...avoid sitting twisted in the saddle and twisted in your shoulders when riding one-handed."
"Caprilli developed the forward seat to correct the instability of a rider's leaning back and shoving his feet ahead."
"While the forward seat was a huge improvement over the old style of riding over fences, it has two major drawbacks: it weights the forehand of the horse when it is crucial for him to be able to rise to the fence, and it makes the rider's back and legs largely ineffective, causing loss of control."
"Without being able to 'sit into his seat' properly, the rider cannot hope to effectively pass on his thoughts and wishes to the horse."