horseback riding seat
Photo Credit: M. Miller

The Seat.  

This is where all riding begins, even if people tell you otherwise.

The seat is the main contact area with the horse. While we often speak of contact through the reins, we often neglect to think about the amazing power of connection you can have with your seat.

The seat is responsible for:

  • your balance
  • your horse's balance
  • half-halts
  • driving aids (bigger stride)
  • turning aids (point the seat in the direction of the turn)
  • transition aids (up or down)
  • maintenance of the gaits
  • "harmonization" (because if you can release through your seat, the rest of your body can follow) 

Unfortunately, because we often want to just get going on the horse, we tend to focus more on the leg and hand aids simply because we want to have control and safety around the horse first.

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However, if you ever have the opportunity, developing your seat aids and coordination before anything else is the quickest, most efficient, and more importantly, most effective route to control, safety and balance. There is no replacement for lunge lessons, if you can find them, because it is only by being lunged that you can focus on developing the muscle memory in your core - the type of movements that you really have little control over and can't will into being. It's purely physical, and by allowing someone else to control your horse, you can just work your body until it can do all the micro-adjustments on its own.

Off the lunge line, you still need to begin every aid and movement from the seat. Want to turn? Turn from your set (and then your upper body and legs can follow). Want to trot? Trot from your seat first (and then your legs can aid as needed). Want to stop? (Stop your seat and only after that, take pressure on the reins if you have to). Need to ride through a buck or over-exuberant duck-and-turn? Release through your seat and let it stick on the horse - the rest of you will follow!

I'm sure you can think of many other purposes for the seat, and I will list a few articles below that I've already written about it through the years. Suffice it to say that any riding on horseback must start with the seat. There is no other way!

How have you developed your riding seat? Comment below.

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Now is the time to re-evaluate your goals and path to riding success!

If you’d like a structured, but personal tool to set goals, take a look our Goal Setting for the Equestrian: A Personal Workbook. The pages are designed for you to set and keep track of your progress over the course of a year.

Included in the book:

  • design your overarching goals
  • long- and short-term planning,
  • debrief your special events such as clinics or shows
  • reflect on, plan and evaluate your goals
  • sample goals and pages

The Workbook is available for instant digital download so you can print the pages right off your computer. There is also the option of a paperback version if you’d rather have a professionally bound book to hold in your hands.

Click here for more information.

Goal Setting For The EquestrianRead more here:

How To Loosen Your Way To A More Effective Riding Seat: This one is for people who tend to bounce around in the saddle.

Why Would You Bother To "Scoop" Your Seat Bones? A breakdown of how you can use your seat bones in riding horses.

Rarely Considered, Often Neglected: Lunging To Develop Your Riding Seat: How can lunging be a part of your riding program?

Three Ways To Use Your Seat In Horseback Riding: The balanced seat is what allows us to develop independent hands, good riding posture and loose, supple legs that can aid at a moment's notice.

17 Things I Learned While Developing My Seat: You might relate to some of these!