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Developing a seat

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  • Developing a seat

    OK, I know this is a wide open question, but I'm really bored at work, so here goes.

    How do you develop a "seat" for jumpers? I rode hunters for so many years, where my trainers were always hollering at me to get off their backs, that now, riding jumpers, I can't seem to get my butt in the saddle.

    I've been watching a bunch of the Nations' Cup jumping, and the one thing I noticed was that all these riders were consistently in the saddle. What I've noticed is that I feel like when I'm sitting in the saddle, that equates to me driving my horse forward, which is not what I'm trying to do.

    So how do you develop a secure, but not driving seat - I know this has got to be something I figure out, because standing in my stirrups doesn't give me any leverage at all......

  • #2
    Dressage, dressage, dressage. Get some lessons with a good instructor on the lunge. You don't need to get a dressage saddle and go gung-ho but some basic review of dressage principles will improve your show jumping considerably. Well worth the investment!
    Camels spit, Mary, camels - Catherine Haddad "Dressage Critic

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    • #3
      Yes to dressage - lunge lessons without stirrups. Riding in general without stirrups helps me get deeper in my seat. And you could try flatting with your stirrups one or 2 holes longer

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      • #4
        Originally posted by allintexas View Post
        Yes to dressage - lunge lessons without stirrups. Riding in general without stirrups helps me get deeper in my seat. And you could try flatting with your stirrups one or 2 holes longer
        ^THIS!

        This helps a lot. I even do this to brush up on my skills every once in a while.

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        • Original Poster

          #5
          This is a dumb question, but what do you do when riding without stirrups? Is it all about posting to the trot to torture leg muscles? Or are you doing sitting trot most of the time?

          I think I might need to find a different horse to ride to try this - mine is still a fair bit green, and likes to buck every now and then, which might not coincide so well with not-so-secure rider.

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          • #6
            There's your answer — dressage, dressage, and more dressage. No posting without stirrups required IMHO, because it's your seat, not your leg muscles, that keeps you in the saddle.
            "Go on, Bill — this is no place for a pony."

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            • #7
              Ride bareback. See my pic of "Skip a Print" in my sig.
              Southern Cross Guest Ranch
              An All Inclusive Guest Ranch Vacation - Georgia

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              • #8
                Originally posted by InWhyCee Redux View Post
                There's your answer — dressage, dressage, and more dressage. No posting without stirrups required IMHO, because it's your seat, not your leg muscles, that keeps you in the saddle.
                Your seat cannot hold you in the saddle, it is physically impossible.

                OP, the thing that allows you to sit in the saddle without driving is a soft but solid grip with your mid-to-upper thighs, and flexibility in your lower back that absorbs the motion.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by westcoasteventer View Post
                  Your seat cannot hold you in the saddle, it is physically impossible.

                  OP, the thing that allows you to sit in the saddle without driving is a soft but solid grip with your mid-to-upper thighs, and flexibility in your lower back that absorbs the motion.
                  I stand corrected — yes, my response was too simplified and, yes, your seat involves your body above and below the seat itself.

                  Just trying to make the point that strong legs, with heels down and butt out of the saddle — things that you begin to develop on day one in Hunters — are just the beginning.
                  "Go on, Bill — this is no place for a pony."

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by westcoasteventer View Post
                    OP, the thing that allows you to sit in the saddle without driving is a soft but solid grip with your mid-to-upper thighs, and flexibility in your lower back that absorbs the motion.
                    Flexibility in the lower back has been the key for me to maintain a secure seat. It helps to keep your body from going up and down with each stride and your seat coming out of the saddle. I think of it kind of as a hinge. With each stride I use the "hinge" in my lower back and think about pushing my butt back and up with the motion of the stride (you can also think of it as closing your hip angle and rotating your pelvis forward and down). The key is not to push your butt back forward, in a driving motion. The "hinge" should allow your butt to stay with the motion with your seat on the saddle, but will keep your upper body from rocking.

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                    • #11
                      If you're comfortable doing it, ride bareback! It develops a seat (and a sense of feel) very quickly, and is self-correcting; if you're doing something wrong, you'll probably slide off.
                      http://www.youtube.com/user/supershorty628
                      Proudly blogging for The Chronicle of the Horse!

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by KingoftheRoad View Post
                        This is a dumb question, but what do you do when riding without stirrups? Is it all about posting to the trot to torture leg muscles? Or are you doing sitting trot most of the time?

                        I think I might need to find a different horse to ride to try this - mine is still a fair bit green, and likes to buck every now and then, which might not coincide so well with not-so-secure rider.
                        I alternate between sitting trot and posting. While sitting, I wil practice lateral movements (leg-yield, shoulder-in, haunches-in), transitions, and do circles to break things up. If you are confident, (maybe not on a greenie!) you can add some canter and canter-trot transitions.

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                        • #13
                          You're making the difference too complicated. Where you "sit" in the jumper ring are the same places you sit in the hunter ring: when you need to collect, turn, rebalance, or shorten. In the jumper ring you just do these things more often and for more prolonged periods. You should already know how to sit as long as you aren't making an *effort* to do so. When you do that, that is when your seat gets stiff and impedes the motion rather than going with it. Just bring your shoulders back and your weight should naturally drop back to your seat bones, while still keeping your seat absorbing the motion rather than driving against it. And your security is still in your leg, regardless of the position of your butt .

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by KingoftheRoad View Post
                            This is a dumb question, but what do you do when riding without stirrups? Is it all about posting to the trot to torture leg muscles? Or are you doing sitting trot most of the time?

                            I think I might need to find a different horse to ride to try this - mine is still a fair bit green, and likes to buck every now and then, which might not coincide so well with not-so-secure rider.
                            I mix it between posting, sitting, and canter transitions. I also work on picking up and dropping my stirrups and posting with only one stirrup.
                            “Thoroughbreds are the best. They’re lighter, quicker, and more intelligent.” -George Morris

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                            • #15
                              I have been working on this for about a year now! I think it wasn't that I was a "hunter rider" switching to jumpers, but that I wasn't a terribly effective hunter rider either! So it's been a year of dressage mixed in with our jump schools, riding without stirrups (especially at sitting trot!) and really working at Sitting The Trot, not just "trying to hold still until the judge says we can post again!"

                              I have had to change just about everything (funny thing about that, all the body parts are connected... so you can't just "use your seat" without evaluating and adjusting all the other parts, too.) but I feel like my riding has improved by a good margin along the way!

                              My trainer has a background in dressage and has made it understandable and enjoyable to work on it. I have also gotten to ride different horses who 'tattle' if you aren't using your seat, back, and legs correctly, and I think that has been very useful.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by westcoasteventer View Post
                                Your seat cannot hold you in the saddle, it is physically impossible.

                                OP, the thing that allows you to sit in the saddle without driving is a soft but solid grip with your mid-to-upper thighs, and flexibility in your lower back that absorbs the motion.
                                I would disagree with this.

                                Your seat following the horse's movement is what allows you to stay in the saddle. Nothing should be holding you down in the saddle, and if you're gripping with your thighs to hold you down in it, good luck trying to have a sensitive, responsive horse who adjusts for anything you ask. And trying to go back and forth between out of and in the saddle. I've never been able to grip to hold on AND have a horse push me up into jumping position at the correct time - and I'd personally rather get the timing right over fences than be holding myself on instead of moving with the horse. I suspect gripping is also what causes the "driving seat" the OP was concerned about. The softness in the back is about the only thing I agreed with here.


                                A common dressage exercise on the longe line is to actually pull your legs away from your horse's back at the sitting trot. If you are properly using your seat/following in your joints instead of trying to grip to hold on, this exercise helps you sit BETTER rather than making it seem as if you will fall off. I highly recommend it if you can practice on a reliable non-green horse.
                                Originally posted by Silverbridge
                                If you get anything on your Facebook feed about who is going to the Olympics in 2012 or guessing the outcome of Bush v Gore please start threads about those, too.

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                                • #17
                                  I rode western instead of dressage, but I also had a problem of jumping ahead of the horses movement. I like dressage but we didn't seem to be "getting it". It was kinda killing two birds with one stone and we made use of the saddle I had. One caution: make sure you get a qualified western trainer, there are so many fakes out there. Mine grew up riding both disciplines and seems to have a good understanding of hunter/jumper horses as well. My trainer is all around (focus on ranch and serious barrel horses) and we have taught my difficult mare to turn on haunches and forehand, to back up (yeah that was a huge problem for us), shoulder in/out and are working on half pass. She now listens to my posting to see if she what speed I would like at the trot and is very attentive off my seat. It has improved my confidence and my mare seems to relax for once and trust me more.

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