I read a rather complicated article last week which explained in detail about how your seat should move with the horse in different gaits.
It seemed to complicate the matter, so although I won’t show my clients the article I did find a couple of useful tips.
The walk is a horizontal gait, meaning that the legs move further forwards than they do up. To encourage the horse’s walk, and to stay active in it, your seat should swing forwards and backwards. Not so much that you’re wriggling around in the saddle – think of it more as allowing the horse to move your hips forwards and backwards with each stride. So, left hip forwards, right hip forwards …
The trot is more of a vertical gait, hence why we go up and down, but when trying to sit to the trot you should think of your seat and hips moving up and down in time with the up-down of the horse’s stride. This should help you absorb the bounce and go with their movement more easily. Again, you aren’t manufacturing the movement, you’re going with the flow. Think left hip up and right hip down, left hip down and right hip up …
Now this is where it gets complicated. The canter is asymmetric and has a rolling motion. So when on the left rein your hips want to make small anti-clockwise circles – like doing the hula hoop. And vice versa on the right rein. The article is read also went into detail about putting more pressure on one seatbone at a certain point in the stride, but I feel it will cause rider’s to overthink their seat and move too much. Really, all these movements that the seat is doing is just keeping it mobile, stopping the muscles from going rigid, and helping the rider go with the movement of the horse.
I’ve taught the idea of moving the hips forwards and backwards in the walk to several clients before, but yesterday I decided to try my simplified explanation about the canter seat to a client. She’s been struggling to sit into the canter and tends to come up and down in the saddle, so I thought the hula hoop theory may make sense to her.
I have to say that it really helped. It took a couple of strides initially, and she had to think about it, but her bum definitely stayed in contact with the saddle, and the canter was less rushed. I think it takes a few times of really concentrating on the hips circling in canter, and moving in the right direction, but hopefully as the pelvis gets more mobile and the muscles stronger yet more flexible then sitting into the canter becomes second nature. Then the seat can be more active in controlling the canter.
Now that I’ve test run my explanation, I’ve got a couple of other riders I want to try it with, so watch out!