The position of the rider
The correct position allows the rider to be always together and in harmony with his horse.
- #work in flat
The basis of all equitation is the ability of the rider to sit in the saddle in the correct classical position and to be able to mantain this position with minimum tension under all circumstances. The word ‘classical’ is not used in a pedantic way but refers to a position which has become classical because it has evolved through the ages as the most practical way of riding a horse. The aim is that a rider should place as much of his weight as possible where the horse can most easily carry it. That is, just behind the withers, near the horse’s centre of balance (also its centre of gravity). By using an upright position the rider can remain in balance with the horse and this is essential if horse and rider are to work together in harmony. Any deviation from this ideal position will be reflected in the horse’s way of going and/or his temperament. It is, therefore, essential that every serious horseman works to achieve a truly classical seat until such a position becomes instinctive to him. The above applies also to the classical jumping position, which is achieved by closing the angles of hip, knee and ankle joints, while remaining in balance with the horse.
The position adopted for riding on the flat, as well as being the one from which a rider can most easily influence his horse, it’s also the most elegant. The riders sits square in the lowest part of the saddle, his weight equally distribuited on his seat bones and absorbed by the seat, thighs and feet, the latter resting on the stirrups with only enough weight to keep the stirrups in place. The rider’s point of balance is close to that of the horse, behind the horse withers. There must be a minimum of tension, physical or mental, if the correct position is to be achieved and maintained. The muscles should have ‘tone’-firmness which lies between extreme relaxion and tension.
When jumping, or when gallopping on the flat, the rider must modify the basic seat, partly to mantain his balance but also to take his weight off the horse’s back.
To adopt the jumping position the rider:
- shortens his stirrup leathers (the lenghts depending on the work to be carried out), which closes the angles of the hips-knees-ankles
- Inclines his body forwrad from the pelvis, sliding the seat back a little (the seat may be kept in light contact with the saddle or not, as desidered)
- Increases the weight on the tigh, knee and stirrup
- Turns his toes slightly out so as to tighten the leg muscles
- Remains looking forward and with back flat
- Holds his hands well in front of him, in a straight line from the elbow through the forearm, hands and rein to the mouth: altought the elbows may leave the side, as they move forward.
The result is that the rider’s weight is taken off of the horse’s back and the rider is able to stay in balance when travelling at speed.