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Riding on the flat... question to the jumper people...

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  • Riding on the flat... question to the jumper people...

    Well glad I copied my original thread as it somehow didnt come through at all but still managed to show up 4 times blank...

    Here it is: :-) sorry for the confusion

    Good morning!!
    Yea it's friday...
    So I have a question: I went and audited the George Morris clinic yesterday (which was wonderfully held at Pinehurst Stables) and really learned a lot! May I just say that I LOVE his emphasis on how the basics need to be in... that you have to have basic flat work (shoulders in, lateral movements, counter-canter, etc..). It was truely refreshing to see that people do still practice that (probably because it my neck of the woods, you don't see it much)!
    So, here is the question, do you ride very forward on the flat... and even approaching fences?
    I grew up riding in Europe and I ride on my "seat bones"... not saying this is more correct in any way... I just thought I'd ask here to see what the norm is... or at the end of the day, does it just matter what your horse goes best in.

    I'm going to look for a pic of me on the flat... I just happen to ride at the vertical (definitely not behind though).
    So please enlighten me (I really am not stuck on the fact that "my" way is the best- just want to see what the advantage of riding that forward are).

    Also, got a new mare.... finally...
    Here are a couple pics of her in pasture:


    and here are her bloodlines: http://www.allbreedpedigree.com/irish+hills+chyna

    She's been in a field for 3 years though so I plan to re-start her next month (when I will officially be a college graduate).

    Thanks for the insights...
    Proudly living in my "let's save the world bubble"!

  • #2
    By forward I'm guessing you're talking about your upper body inclination right?? From what I remember of the clinic I took with him... We sat in the saddle for flatwork, but when we jumped he wanted us up in more of a two point. Those who sat too much during jumping (myself included ) he called "butt grabbers" and told us to get up out of our tack. I know you should have many seats but it seems like when you watch bigger classes some sit A LOT and others never sit in the saddle.
    scr.ew them hunters



    • Original Poster

      Yes I meant in the upper body...
      You are right, it is mostly in the jumping phase... but even at the trot- the riders were pretty forward with their upper body.
      I tend to sit (even though its a light seat- not full seat) a couple strides out before a fence... Just was wondering what the positive aspect of having your upper body that forward at the trot on the flat as well as the constant two point over fences...
      Proudly living in my "let's save the world bubble"!


      • #4
        I started riding with a more dressage oriented instructor and always tended to ride primarily on the vertical w/ my butt in the saddle. However, when I purchased my first horse, I had to learn to adapt to how she likes to be ridden. She is a very forward and opinionated mare and goes much better when I stay lighter in the tack. I don't ride with a very forward upper body angle, but I definitely stay off her back while jumping and typically during canter work on the flat. She also has a longish-type back and when I sit too much she tends to hollow out. Now there are always moments on course where I need to sit more, but for the most part I stay in a light seat either with my butt completely out of the tack or just brushing the seat slightly.

        I always find that my position changes from horse to horse, depending on what they respond the most to. For instance, my friend's QH gelding goes better when you remain sitting and upright. He even prefers a sitting trot to the base of a jump as opposed to posting. Just depends on the horse.


        • #5
          Upper Body at posting trot should be at an approximate 30 degree angle. Same for galloping and jumping. This keeps your body moving with the motion. Vertical is not correct for HSE and would be considered behind the motion (a useful tool when necessary, but shouldn't be your base position.)
          Keith: "Now...let's do something normal fathers and daughters do."
          Veronica: "Buy me a pony?"


          • #6
            For me it depends on the horse. Sometimes you need to sit to balance them in the corners, for a tight turn, or a few strides out from the jump. Others flow nicely if you're up out of the tack.


            • Original Poster

              Originally posted by JinxyFish313 View Post
              For me it depends on the horse. Sometimes you need to sit to balance them in the corners, for a tight turn, or a few strides out from the jump. Others flow nicely if you're up out of the tack.
              K... that's what I seem to think...
              I mean when you look at the "big" time show jumpers, not all of them ride out of their saddles....
              She rides in a pretty deep seat:

              the "in between:
              same here.. in between but he still sits up before fences...

              So I'm taking it... their is no universal position... ride and adapt to your mount...
              Thank you
              Proudly living in my "let's save the world bubble"!


              • #8
                I worked in Holland last year and I definitely came home with a different riding position. I felt like my position was much stronger, but I did have someone ask me once if I was a dressage rider, after watching me on the flat.

                I think that our traditional American position was heavily influenced by the fact that we were riding Tbs for so long. I think that *most* of them do go better in a lighter frame and ride. I don't think that one style is better than the other, but designed for different types of horses.

                It is difficult to get a heavy German horse to pay attention when cantering in my half seat.


                • #9
                  I think it really depends on the horse. I have a TB who likes being ridden with a deeper seat- like a stereotypical WB.

                  I get up out of the saddle to gallop and so on, but getting the best jump out of him means that I need to "ride like a German," as my trainer says. I flat him the same way, and for whatever reason it makes him much happier. He has to be different....

                  His BFF, also a TB, hates a deep seat and goes best when the rider does a light hunter seat. Figure out what makes each horse happy and produces the best jump and you'll have your answer!
                  You can take a line and say it isn't straight- but that won't change its shape. Jets to Brazil


                  • #10
                    Hunter Seat Equitation, by George Morris, details every aspect of his system of riding; he really did 'write THE book.'

                    Inner Bay Equestrian


                    • #11
                      It all comes down to two different schools of thought: the Forward Riding method, as proposed primarily by Littauer, which dispenses with all collection (and therefore any use of the full seat by all but very advanced horsemen/women, and only then in the case of what he calls semi-collection), and the more classical sytem of equitation proposed by deNemethy and very much adhered to by Steinkraus, which were very adamant in using lateral and collective exercises to straighten and strengthen the horses in order to ride them forward and without resistance.

                      After much study, I conclude Littauer and followers desire to avoid resistance in the horse by not asking it to carry itself in any way other than it's natural carriage under the rider. All training of the horse takes place with the horse in it's natural (forward) balance, as that is where the horse is "happiest." It is interesting to note that Littauer's observation of the abhorrent collected riding in his time was based on the old German school, which was not exactly the "glory days" of horsemanship.

                      DeNemethy and followers of his system (who came slightly on the tail of Littauer) combined the very best influence of classical dressage with the desire for forward freedom of the horse. They were very interested in riding their horses forward and allowing them freedom, but only after intensive work on the flat to eradicate resistance, suppling the horse in both lateral and longitudinal planes so that when they were ridden strongly forward, no natural crookedness remained to work against the rider. It is this school of thought I support. The educated use of the seat is a very strong feature of this system, which is logical, as the seat is the modifier of all energies created by the leg, and therefore the horses haunches. The hand acts only as verifier. Without use of the seat (as in the Forward System) the hand is left to act as modifier, which because of its use forward of the horse's center of gravity, tends to tip the mass of the horse even more forward, much like stepping on the brake of a car. The seat is absent as a means to bridge the leg and hand aids, allowing greater sublety. A good analogy: the forward system is like stepping on the brake to reduce the car's speed. The classical system is like gearing down to reduce the speed of the vehicle.

                      IMHO, no style of riding should completely exclude an entire set of aids, and therein lies the fault of Littauer and his followers. It is like excluding the woodwind section in a symphony! The sound is going to be very impoverished. So it is with riding...when one entirely excludes the use of the full seat, the quality of riding and the quality of work suffers. Proper riding includes the coordinated and educated use of all the aids to allow for the most beautiful performance and lasting soundness of horse and rider.


                      • #12
                        I guess my general answer is that the joy and greatness of riding horses and being good is that the rider has a huge tool box (riding seat, bits, tack, leg, etc)......and for each horse, not every tool comes out of the box.

                        The rider has to hand-select which tools fit which horse best. Not every combination works on every horse. Its not universal. And it also depends on WHAT you are trying to accomplish (light flat work, dressage type flat work, a jump off round, a hunter round, a xcountry round, etc).

                        I only own TBs and they all 'prefer' the light seat, but they get the full vertical seat when balking at a fence, or when asking for more 'upper' dressage movement while training on the flat.
                        Horse Drawings!


                        • #13
                          Well, I tried to refrain...but I couldn't.

                          I suppose the answer lies in what one is trying to accomplish. If one wants to influence the hindquarters in any significant way, the upper body must come close to or at vertical. This is because when the upper body tips forward, the connection of the seatbones lightens. This connection of the seat is a crucial part in connecting the bridge over the horse's back and establishing roundness and throughness. This is why dressage riders ride in the tack and vertical; it is the position of influence.

                          There is no incorrect upper body position, HSE or otherwise, so long as the upper body angle matches the "frame" of the horse. If the horse is being ridden in a forward frame, the rider's own form should so inclinate. If the horse is being ridden in a medium frame, the rider should adopt a medium angle of the upper body. If the horse is being ridden in a "deep," or collected, frame the rider's body must be at or approaching vertical.

                          "Behind the motion" has to do with the relationship of angles from the rider to the horse. It is not a static angle behind which the rider is automatically "behind." If the horse is very collected, 30 degrees in front of the vertical is in front of the motion. If the horse is being ridden very extended, 30 degress is behind the motion. And so forth.

                          Many textbooks give a simplified point of reference for the beginning rider, but the worst fault a rider can have is to ride the textbook and forget about the horse underneath him.

                          It is important to note that one physically cannot create a correctly engaged and carrying horse using a forwardly inclined body and seat. A horse in this "frame" must be created with a deeper seat and more vertical upper body because this is the position of influence over the hindquarters. Once this carrying power is produced, the rider can then get light and only touch back every so often to maintain the frame.

                          Americans do themselves a disservice to get stuck in a discussion of absolute position. The horse is a dynamic object underneath the horse; it stands to reason, then that position must follow; it cannot be static.

                          So OP, what sort of flatwork do you want to produce? You must first select that and then determine what position of influence to use.

                          If you are of the laizzez faire school, a light seat and forward upper body should be your choice.

                          If you are of the more german system, a deep seat and vertical upper body are appropraite.

                          If you strike a balance between the two (my choice and that of the classical greats I adhere to), you will understand that rider position is a spectrum; every position therein is correct depending on necessity and circumstance, and that full seat vertical work is actually more important than the light seat work because the full seat work is what allows the light seat to be done correctly. Ends cannot equal the means.

                          As an aside, ALL horses, TB or otherwise, must learn to accept the seat. The seat is an aid. Abandoning it because the horse prefers otherwise creates a huge gap in his training, not dissimilar to taking a spur off one who gets sulky to the leg. If one knows how to sit and can do so with finesse (as every rider should), there is no reason a horse should not be able go with a vertical upper body. The rider is the one who trains the horse, not the other way around.
                          It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. (Aristotle)


                          • #14
                            I audited the same clinic at Pinehurst, it was fabulous but I suspect George Morris does the same thing every time and its all direct from his book.

                            There is a lot of good information in this thread. I would suggest doing exactly what GM said, read books, watch videos and EDUCATE yourself and your horse. I am coming back to hunters after many years of trail riding. I was pleased to see what I was taught 35 years ago is still correct according to GM. He was also appalled at how "heavy in the hands" all the horses were when he got on them. I agree with that. GM wants deep seat for sitting tror and canter but two point for jumping and gallop and forward inclination for posting trot. I have a friend from England who is a Grand Prix rider. She knows her stuff and has been helping me with my TB mare. After she started schooling her I would get on her and she would feel like a ton of brick in my hands. She is much more collected, on the bit and looks beautiful but I couldn't believe how "heavy" she felt.

                            Amazingly she (horse) has learned to transition from my British friend to me. I have noticed however that my horse seems to jump much flatter when my friend rides her. I suspect it is because she sits so deep all the way to the jump. I think her (horse) form is better when ridden up in the two point. She does slow down a bit more when being ridden deep to the fence but I don't like how if effects her jumping.

                            At the Clinic at Pinehurst there was a one rider who was not getting up out of his seat and he would also come down too quickly on the saddle after the jump. The horse was a gorgeous jumper but sped up and bucked after nearly every jump. After GM got him to get up in two point and not come back down that way the horse calmed down. (GM also traded out much too severe spurs for nubs and changed the reins position on his bit)

                            I would say that particular pair came out most improved of his group. It does depend on the horse. However I agree with OP schooling in basics on flat is so important and often overlooked.

                            Have to go back and read GM book again, its been so long.

                            Now I have to get back in shape so I can ride the clinic next time not audit