Equitation is so incredibly important to me and should be to every-single-rider. I believe good equitation stems from your seat. Your seat is the only part of your body that is constantly in direct contact/communication with the horse. Sure, you have hands that are attached to reins which are attached to the bit which is then connected to the horses mouth....but what if you didn’t? Yes, you have feet that touch a horse’s sides to communicate via cues....but what if you didn’t? You also have a mouth that periodically can give verbal cues to the horse, but let’s say you didn’t.
That’s correct, I’m asking how would you communicate while on a horse without hands, feet or verbal cues? What is left? The only part of you that we cannot take away! Your seat! You know, the thing that keeps you on a horse if something goes wrong. The thing that can engage a horse’s pelvis/hind end when properly connected or even shut down a horse’s forward movement. It is also the thing that can create a horse to go back sore if you flop around like a fish out of water!
Your seat needs to be the focal point while learning to ride and needs to be the focal point while teaching others to ride. English or western does not matter! Your seat matters equally in both disciplines! Your butt needs to be right there with that horse at all times. You do not need to roll your hips forward and arch your lower back to make this happen. You don’t even need lean back like you are in a Lay Z Boy recliner. Some of you may have done some exercises with us where we have you touch the horse’s tail....those are just that, exercises, and those are not what I am referring to.
Then how do you accomplish this seat? Here’s a quick tip that I hope will help! You need to start by letting your pooch (you know, your lower belly) out. That’s right, just push that thing out while you are sitting up there and then sink down into that saddle. You might even need to let your shoulders down for a moment to make this happen. Now, go take a lap with your pooch pushed out and sunk into the saddle. Hopefully, you’ll feel how loose your hips and pelvis just became. Once you have obtained this feeling in your seat, try your hardest to keep the seat the same slowly lift your shoulders back up.
I know that some of you may be thinking that you are supposed to have a solid and steady core. The downside is that humans like to overdue most things. By you consciously trying to maintain a solid and steady core, this will likely lead to stiffness in your pelvis and hips. Those are the areas we are trying to loosen! Once you can unlock but control your pelvis and hips (essentially your seat) you will be able to communicate and flow WITH your horse so much more effectively. No need to worry about a rider’s/your extremities at the very beginning, as you will be able to hone in on the control and placement of all extremities once the rider can obtain what we call an, “independent seat.”
My key points:
-shoulders should never been in front of the hips (unless in two point position)
-feet should never be at or in front of the girth or cinch
Remember, our goal is to be as one with the horse, not fight them or work against them!
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