Exclusive article on the Riders Seat published on Horsezone website this month.
So you have bought the dream horse! Now it's time to focus on your riding and how to get the best out of your horse. World renowned equestrian Sylvia Loch, Founder of The Classical Riding Club and Author of many equestrian titles including The Balanced Horse, provides some insight as to the importance of the riders seat and tips to improve and establish your own seat.
BALANCE – AND THE RIDER’S SEAT
Anyone interested in dressage and who watch our top Olympic echelon will acknowledge there is very little difference in the riding position of say Carl Hester, Richard Davison etc and those proud riders of the great European Schools, most especially Vienna, Portugal and Spain. This is how it should be, yet it was not always thus.
Roll back a few decades and most riders adopted a very different position for dressage. This was often referred to as the German seat, the worst examples often demonstrated by small ladies on very big horses. The favoured posture was a defensive one, leaning backwards with shoulders and pelvis angled well behind the vertical. The resulting inbalance led to more reliance on the rein for stability. Things deteriorated further when rollkur came into fashion and judges were favouring horses that moved with a short neck, head behind the vertical and unnaturally high stepping front leg movement.
Everything about these changes was against the classical principles of riding which had been handed down from time immemorial. Whilst there may have been small differences in approach the underlying theme was to allow the horse to work in balance. He could only do this with a light hand on the rein, as any attempt to pull him in would automatically place him on the forehand. The FEI rules themselves demanded that the horse was light in the forehand and the poll must be the highest point.
Xenophon wrote that a man should sit astride a horse in the same balance that he would adopt when standing on the ground and all the revered books from times past taught the same. A rider’s position must subscribe to the laws of gravity otherwise it would not be stable or safe and the rider would have to rely on the reins for support which was discouraged and despised.
Having lived and worked with horses in Portugal for almost ten years, I was well aware of these differences of seat and philosophy but it was only on returning to England that I felt it necessary to address the subject and reinforce the philosophy of the Masters with a series of articles in a popular horse magazine. Few in those days had access to classical teaching and many were not being taught these important precepts in a typical riding school situation.
To read the rest of the exclusive article please click here to visit the Horsezone website.