The Rider's Seat
Marsha Hartford Sapp
The horse's back is an elastic bridge between the horses forehand and hindquarters. In order to help our horse develop self carriage, the rider must have a good seat. The "seat" is a generalized term which refers to the way the rider positions their body while on the horse. The seat involves many parts of the riders body, to include;
1. The head, to be centered over the shoulder, hips, and feet.
2. The shoulders must be back and down, over the hips and not leading forward
3. The body weight must be centered
4. The seat bones- while the pelvis can tilt, the seat bones must be square in the saddle
5. The torso must be tall with the stomach and abdominal muscles pulled in in order to allow the spine to lengthen
6. The hips must be open and leading the movement of the horse, not locked or pinching with the legs around the horse
The position the rider places the pelvis can directly influence the length of the stride of the horse. If the pelvis is tilted from below, with the bottom part of the pelvis forward and the stomach pulled taught, the horse must come back in its stride, or slow the stride. The rider that tilts the pelvis so that the hips come up and over the withers will increase the stride of the horse. The half halt comes off the hips towards the hands. The rider that uses the seat to speak to the horse will create a sensitive, willing and ready partner.
For the rider to learn to sit is one thing, but to learn to implement the seat as a riding aid is another. Look within your self for the solutions to your problems with the horses that you are riding. A rider with more self awareness of the seat, and how your balance and your use of the seat effects your horses balance and self carriage. The angle of your hips, the position of your legs, the softness of the thigh, the subtleuse of weight aids all speak to the horse. These aids speak volumes to the horse, either helping and freeing the horse the to use itself effortlessly, or burdening the horse and making its job more difficult. It is important to not blame the horse for your limitations. A rider cannot have a balanced seat on an out of balance moving horse anymore than your horse can have grace, self carriage, and balance with the a rider whose seat is off balance. One without the other does not exist.