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Tips, Advice to avoid "chair seat" while riding. . .

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  • Tips, Advice to avoid "chair seat" while riding. . .

    I am getting back into the real swing of things after taking a year off to concentrate on grad school and the kiddies. . . I am paranoid that I am sitting a "chair seat" not saying I am exactly. . just paranoid and don't want to re-begin with a bad habit!
    Willow Run Connemaras
    Home of: "Willow Boy" (*Chiltern Colm ex *Sillbridge Miranda by Thunderbolt)
    ~Irish Connemara Ponies for Sport and Pleasure~

  • #2
    I'd also love to hear some tips on this. I use to have a horrible chairseat, until I saw some pictures of myself in a dressage saddle. Not pretty I've tried thinking about it all throughout my ride, and reminding myself to keep my legs back, but I find when I try to pull my lower leg back where it's supposed to be, I pull my heel up as well. Is it more of a mental thing, or are we just lacking in lower leg strength?


    • #3
      I took jumper lessons for a year or so, and had a forward seat. Then, I took some dressage lessons and everything got much better.

      What helped me was during a lesson, the trainer told me to stop and stand still, then bring my feet far back, and my body and arms, to make the horse back up. This was exaggerated, so it made me sit on my seat bones and made my spine angle behind the vertical.

      If you 1) ride on your seat bones, your spine angle will be good, then 2) bring your shoulders back, then 3) get your feet under your shoulders (shoulder/hips/heels in a vertical line), this helps me and I'm a much better rider now. It takes some work to get those feet back and keep them there.

      Also, if your stirrups are too short--you'll be in a chair seat, basically.



      • #4
        I think a lot of it has to do with the saddle you're riding in. I never had a chair seat when Iwas riding in my Crosby.... but when I'd ride in my Toulouse I almost always looked like I was in a chair seat no matter how I much I tried not to be. Obviously the saddle isn't the only factor, but I do think it plays a role.
        "People ask me 'will I remember them if I make it'. I ask them 'will you remember me if I don't?'"


        • #5
          The "winged victory" position was taught to me by my 1st riding teacher, and it gets you out of chair seat fast. It might be a "Sally Swift" move?

          You stand up in your stirrups at a halt. Stick belly out toward horse's ears while standing, weight in heels and find your balance point - it will be over the pommel. Put your arms out and balance there until you find your balance point. Your legs, feet will move BACK. Once you find your balance point, try it at the walk and trot. At both gaits, sit back down in the saddle and your leg should be in the correct position. I spent alot of time in "Winged Victory". When you start to post after practicing this position, your post should be out over pommel and legs out of chair seat.

          Also, LOTS of 2-point - finding your balance point in 2-point at W/T/C - get into 2-point and let weight drop into heels and lower leg. Stay in 2-point at the walk to start for several minutes until you can eventually 2-point without needing any balance on your hands or on neck or mane. Once you are in 2-point a while and probably in pain sit back down onto saddle without changing leg position. Doing the above with my teacher has really helped my seat and position. You will need to use your core. Good luck!


          • #6
            There are so many nuances to riding... changing one thing with a conscientious mind also requires incremental changes everywhere else ... so there isn't ONE good answer to your question. Esp. when talking about the SEAT, that is your entire foundation, so you asked a mouthful when asking how to improve it!

            Best advice is: 1) STRONG core, 2) regular lessons - INCLUDING lunge line - and 3) No hand riding! Hand riding/ riding the horse's head contributes a great deal to "chair seat" as your hands and shoulders tend to be restrained/ stiff and by supporting the horse that way, he tends to pull you FORWARD (and often down) .. you also end up focusing too much on your hands, not your seat ... Let someone on the ground alert you when your rump begins to "seek out the cantle of the saddle," and if you might possibly be a little stiff in the hands, elbows and shoulders.

            Your best friend is MORE hours in the saddle to familiarize yourself with what's correct once again .. this is a great time to do this with help, as you can come back CORRECTLY, rather than flawed .... You'll get there with strength building (after time off) and lotsa miles to confirm CORRECT muscle memory! Enjoy the ride!

            "If you don't know where you're going, you'll end up somewhere else."


            • #7
              The position of the stirrup bars plays a huge role.

              If the stirrup bars are too far forward for YOUR conformation, you will be in a chair seat no matter how much you try to correct it.

              The right saddle puts you in a balanced position.

              From there you can work to strengthen your leg, etc.
              Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
              EquestrianHow2 - Operating instructions for your horse.


              • #8
                Another extremely useful tool for improving seat is the video camera.

                The lens does not lie; does not care who many lessons you have (or have not) taken; does not care how much you paid for your saddle (or horse); who your trainer/instructor is; or anything else. It will give you an honest picture of what you are or are not doing; then work with an instructor, coach, whatever to move you from where you are to where you want to be.

                There are many exercises that help you do what you need to do. The camera will very graphically tell you where you are so you can get started.

                Note that this is not something that a person who is hypersensitive to criticism should do. The camera will not intentionally hurt your feelings, but it won't lie to make you feel better, either.

                Good luck in your program.

                Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão


                • #9
                  I'm 40 years old and I'm doing the lunge line thing a couple times a week! I spent most of my adult life galloping racehorses and riding just broke youngsters so my "proper" position has taken a beating. I'm finding the lunge line, I have no stirrups and arms are straight out, helps to tighten everything up.

                  COTH, keeping popcorn growers in business for years.

                  "I need your grace to remind me to find my own." Snow Patrol-Chasing Cars. This line reminds me why I have horses.


                  • #10
                    I want to echo the saddle fit & stirrup length factors.

                    I sat perfectly fine in my old English saddle on my old Appy. As the years went by and my core strengthened, I kept lowering my stirrups for better posture and contact.

                    The old saddle fit my new horse, but just rested differently on her back, giving me a chair seat. I bought a Western saddle which fit both of us better. My legs are nice and straight under me and it's actually easier to keep my heels down.

                    Try borrowing/changing saddles to actually assist proper riding posture.


                    • #11
                      Mine was my saddle.

                      My HDR put me in a horrible chair seat and perched me.

                      My Berney puts me a perfect position.
                      OTTB - Hurricane Denton - Kane - the big dog!
                      Tuggy - RIP 9/12/2016 - Wait for me at the bridge
                      Foster LolaMaria AKA LolaBean (Boxer)


                      • Original Poster

                        Thank you to all who have responded. Two things jumped out right away: stirrup length and practice or srengthening at the 2-point (I seem to remember hours of this as a younger woman ). The video cam is GREAT advice, I will have my daughter film some sessions and I will use the footage as a tool. She usually goes with me and never holds back on the commentary, "Mom, your heels aren't down". . ."Mom, your arms look funny" lol! Truly a "family affair" for us.

                        Re: the "Winged Victory". I tried to imagine this one. ..so do you actually stand full up in the stirrups? I do have Sally Swifts book so maybe I can reference it as well to help get a better idea.

                        Thank you all again for the insight!
                        Willow Run Connemaras
                        Home of: "Willow Boy" (*Chiltern Colm ex *Sillbridge Miranda by Thunderbolt)
                        ~Irish Connemara Ponies for Sport and Pleasure~


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by AppendixQHLover View Post
                          Mine was my saddle.

                          My HDR put me in a horrible chair seat and perched me.

                          My Berney puts me a perfect position.
                          Have to second saddle fit (you not the horse). I had to have my saddle restuffed and the cantle raised but it instantly fixed my chair seat.

                          You'll be fine.


                          • #14
                            Re: winged victory. Yep - you stand up, belly out, arms out and find your balance point. Your legs will probably slide back and your weight will need to be in lower heels/leg to balance this way. Think: "Titanic Movie" - the memorable scene when the lead actress is standing at the very front of the ship with her arms out. And yes, in a round pen or small ring, you can practice this at the W/T. My instructor said canter too but we never quite worked up to that.


                            • Original Poster


                              re: Winged Victory. . .cool. Thanks! I can't wait to be like the girl in the Titanic scene. . it's cooler on a horse!
                              Willow Run Connemaras
                              Home of: "Willow Boy" (*Chiltern Colm ex *Sillbridge Miranda by Thunderbolt)
                              ~Irish Connemara Ponies for Sport and Pleasure~


                              • #16
                                As well as having a saddle with the proper stirrup bars, you have to tilt your pelvis, sit on your seatbones and work on strengthening that core so that you stay there. If your seatbones are under you in the proper position, your legs will hang where they are supposed to.

                                Just doing the "winged victory" will only help so much. You need the strength and balance to maintain it.

                                I would highly recommend the purchase of Sally Swift's Centered Riding videos. They will help tremendously.

                                Mad Mare™ Studio
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                                • #17
                                  CORRECTLY balanced saddle. PERIOD.
                                  ... _. ._ .._. .._


                                  • #18
                                    This came up in a post I did a couple of days ago, and I got some *very* helpful exercises from it! Something to keep in mind that was pointed out there was that my pelvis could still be tilted into a chair seat even if my legs weren't out in front of me. It's still very much a work in progress, but I think I made a big improvement for just one day: before and after and closeup of leg position. I don't own my own horse or saddle, so I tend to make do as best as I can with whatever is available.
                                    Stay me with coffee, comfort me with chocolate, for I am sick of love.


                                    • #19
                                      Just wondering, do hunt saddles ever have adjustable bars? I ride saddle seat and my saddle has them. When I first got the saddle my trainer immediately moved them to the position farthest back. That 2 inches made a world of difference in my leg position- and anyone who has ridden in my saddle vs. a traditional saddle rides much, much better.


                                      • #20
                                        Bumping this back up.....if it's the saddle that's putting you in a chair seat, is there anything you can do to fix it?

                                        I got a new OTTB and my RD Collegiate fits him very nicely. However, it puts me in a chair seat, which drives me crazy.

                                        I also have a Wintec close contact, which doesn't fit him as well as I'd like, but seems to allow me a better position.

                                        We are building a house and getting married in the near future, and I don't have a lot of extra cash for a new saddle at the moment, especially since the Collegiate already fits him......

                                        Anything I can do with the saddle to help myself out?