The balanced seat
The same basic principles apply to both riding on the flat and over fences. However, when horse is jumping the centre of balance moves forward and the rider needs to adapt his position.
- #work in flat
The aim of the jumping seat is to give freedom to the horse’s back and to enable the rider to follow all changes in the horse’s balance. In order to follow the horse’s jump the stirrup leathers need to be shorter. How much shorter depends on the conformation of the rider and his normal flat riding length.
The rider’s legs should remain firm and steady, the lower leg being by the girth and should be ready to act if the need arises.
The hip, knee and ankle joints must be flexible. The rider should have a light seat with the body’s weight well down into the heels; he should be able to move the upper body fluently according to the movement of the horse. The hands should be indipendent of the seat. Over the fence the reins can be offered forward by taking the hands forward and down on either side of the neck trying as far as possible to keep a straight line from the elbow through the rein to the bit.
The three main points of contact with horse are the seat, the knees and heels. When in jumping seat, the rider is in a ‘two points’ position. Here the rider does not put any weight on the seat, tranferring all weight to the stirrups. The lightness of the seat can be varied depending on what is required and this can also be practised by the novice rider. When the stride is free and open the seat should barely brush the saddle. However, when executing a tight turn the rider brings back the shoulders and the seat comes close to the saddle; this collects the horse’s stride and brings the centre of balance back. The rider can practise this until the horse will shorten the stride merely in response to the rider’s bodyweight, without any need for the rider to pull on the reins at all.