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"Chair seat"

This is a discussion on "Chair seat" within the English Riding forums, part of the Riding Horses category

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    10-22-2012, 01:14 AM
Sorry for the double post, no idea why its doing it.
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    10-22-2012, 01:32 AM
The military seat as used by Patton was never used by most of the US military. It was adopted late - 1940s, IIRC - and was heavily influenced by jumping. The normal US cavalry seat was a long legged mild chair seat similar to what was used by a lot of cowboys in the late 1800 & early 1900s.

A Buffalo Soldier from the late 1800s:

"Group of cavalrymen, France, during World War I. This image shows a number of cavalrymen travelling in single file. They are winding their way across a flat expanse of grass-covered land, with little or no track. All of the men are wearing steel helmets and are heavily laden with equipment. The horses are also carrying packs. It is possible this photograph was taken during the 2nd Battle of Arras, April-May 1917.":

Cavalry in WW2:

I can't find the reference, but I read a while back that a manual for the British cavalry in the early 1800s said that for a review, the inspector could drop a plumb line from the soldier's chest, and it ought to drop 1" behind the heel. That would probably work for Robert E. Lee:

FWIW, I've never found a picture of a cowboy from the 1800s riding in a dressage position.
    10-22-2012, 01:36 AM
It's about balance - if your horse was pulled out from under you, would you land on your feet and stay balanced? Or would you tip forwards or backwards, and end up sitting in or eating dirt? Proper EQ sets you up for effective riding. You can be an effective rider and not have "proper" EQ, to be sure, but there's a definite balance.
Strange likes this.
    10-22-2012, 01:43 AM
Originally Posted by AnrewPL    
...I will say here however that I am totally bias and think the traditional Australian bush stile of riding is a total load of rubbish and I would recommend you sit with your heels as close under your hips as you can.
Hmmm...worked for Australian cowboys, millions of US cowboys, the US Cavalry, the British Cavalry...and yet it is rubbish?

Barry Godden made this post a while back, and it seems to match how the old cowboys rode:
"Years ago I was taught to ride 'Western' by an old, bent bow legged Canadian cowboy who had been involved with horses since he was a kid. In the 1930s he had been a winning rodeo rider. By the time I met him he had formed a Western riding club in Surrey, where anyone who rode horses used the English hunting seat. Kennie's first job with new members was to teach them how to ride Western on his Western schooled horses.

The first lesson was to adjust the stirrups so that the leg was carried almost straight. Enough bend was left in the knee to just lift the butt off the seat of the saddle even at the trot.
The second lesson was to learn to ride with signficant weight carried on the stirrups at all times.
The third lesson was to move with the horse, if it leant over, then lean with it.
The rider sat upright and straight using the feet to compensate and resist the
Forces of gravity and movement by pressing down on the stirrups - which were almost being used as 'pedals'.

The rider leaned with the horse - if the horse went to the right at speed then the rider would lean over with the horse into the bend.

We always were to ride on a loose rein held in one hand only. The bits were all Western lever bits and we were told never to ride collected as the potential for accidental pressure on the horse's jaw was too great.

When we trotted - which was usually on level tarmac - we always posted.

If the weight was held on the stirrups, then the rider could not rise too high so long as the stirrups had been adjusted correctly for Western. The knee joint took the strain of rising to the trot.

The riding technique as described above was regarded as almost heresy by regular English riders trained by the British Horse Society. But it worked.
My horse would accept being ridden English or Western..."

From the LS range in 1907:

No one says you have to ride this way, but it worked for a lot of people who rode all the time in rough country far from the nearest doctor. If I had to bet which style of riding was the most secure for rough terrain, this or a dressage seat, I'd bet on this.

That doesn't make a dressage seat wrong. It is right - for dressage, and riding a trained horse in collected gaits.
    10-22-2012, 01:47 AM
Originally Posted by JustDressageIt    
It's about balance - if your horse was pulled out from under you, would you land on your feet and stay balanced...
My horse will never dematerialize. She might leap forward, or sideways, or make a sudden stop, or even fall - but she will never disappear from under me. And if she did disappear at anything faster than a walk or slow jog, landing on my feet would be followed by my slamming face down into the ground.

Balance is about moving with your horse, and keeping your center of gravity over your base of support. A broad triangular base of support might be better for some types of riding than a narrow, rectangular base of support.
    10-22-2012, 01:59 AM
Originally Posted by bsms    
My horse will never dematerialize. She might leap forward, or sideways, or make a sudden stop, or even fall - but she will never disappear from under me. And if she did disappear at anything faster than a walk or slow jog, landing on my feet would be followed by my slamming face down into the ground.

Balance is about moving with your horse, and keeping your center of gravity over your base of support. A broad triangular base of support might be better for some types of riding than a narrow, rectangular base of support.

It's an exercise in a way of thinking about balance, BSMS, not a literal "if your horse vaporized from underneath you" situation - if that happened, I'd be more concerned about the vaporization than "hey! I landed on my feet!"
Having said that, I'm not sure I'll ever convince you of my stance, BSMS... I think I'll quietly step back from getting into an argument before I type my fingers into bloody stumps. You're absolutely welcome to have the views you have :)
I'd prefer to strive to have my shoulder-hip-heel in alignment to help my horse out and balance as well as I can over his back.

I will say that I'm **** glad that our riding has evolved from the 1800s though - jumping positions with that God-awful chair seat made me cringe for the horses' mouths and backs.
    10-22-2012, 02:29 AM
Bsms When I say I learned the ozzy bush style and think its rubbish I'm not specifically talking about the seat, though it is part of it, and the seat I was taught is by far and away more extreme than anything in any of the photos you posted, the whole system is crap as far as I'm concerned, yank on one rein to make it go one way, yank the other to make it go the other, yank both to stop, and pull the reins so tight up behind the horses ears while you stand up leaning forward over the pommel of the saddle at a gallop that the horses mouth is gaping open. And spur till the horse bleeds. That’s about the size of it. And as for how secure my seat is, well I don’t know, but once I started riding the way I do now, I got hurt a lot less and stuck to a fair few hard bucking horses in a slick fork wade saddle that I never would have in any ozzy saddle with knee pads, I doubt I have anything close to what could be called a dressage seat, but I do try to keep my heels under me,.you can tell me, there’s plenty of photos of me riding on my profile page.
    10-22-2012, 11:35 AM
AnrewPL, I would agree that yanking on the reins or tearing the horse's face off with them is wrong. So would the US Cavalry. Military use included riding with a saber in your hand while fighting another guy who had a saber in HIS hand, and if you couldn't control your horse you died. And a cavalryman who spurred his horse bloody needed a good reason, or he'd face discipline from someone who liked horses enough to choose to spend his life with them. I have a horse who was spurred bloody when loaned to a ranch in Colorado, and he still has a 2" round scar on one side.

My main point on this thread is not to get anyone to ride in a chair seat, but to refute the idea that using a chair seat means you are incompetent, or that it will harm your horse. An extreme version was used by both the cavalry and a lot of cowboys. The cavalry rode their horses in a way almost no one does today. During the Civil War, they frequently would ride 30-50 miles/day for 3-5 days in a row, and then need to arrive ready for combat. And that wasn't on one horse, carefully trained for it, but 700-2000 horses and riders. Up at midnight, mounted by 1 AM, then moving out with a few thousand horses and riders in the darkness before Edison. With those numbers, below average riders would get teamed up with below average horses, yet everyone had to move in formation and arrive fit enough to fight.

If heels under hip improved their balance and made their horses fitter, they would have figured it out. They DID sent experienced people to Europe to learn about dressage, and even experimented with it. But their conclusion was that with average riders and average horses doing a lot of riding in rough country, dressage didn't fit. The horses broke down faster, and it took too much training for both man and horse. The cavalry needed for average men and average horses with minimal training to do impressive riding in all types of terrain and weather.

Cowboys in the west didn't work in arenas, and they were a long way from any medical help. They also were not highly trained riders using well trained horses - at least not until experience improved their ability. If putting their heels under their hip would improve their odds of staying alive, I think they would have done so.

That doesn't make it wrong to have heel under hip. It works very well - for some riding. And someone trained that way may well feel more comfortable riding that way all the time. That is fine, but a chair seat is not a fault for other riding needs. It is a different way of riding, and it has worked for a huge number of people and horses for many years. It takes a historical myopia to conclude that good riding was discovered in the 1960s or 70s, or that only wealthy Europeans rode well in the 1800s.

Personally, what seems to work best for me, is to normally ride with the rear of my heel in line with my belt buckle. It is easy to bring my heels back if I want a tight turn or a bit forward if I think my horse might balk.

A lot depends on the horse, the saddle and my goal for that day...all in the humble opinion of someone who doesn't compete, isn't a trainer or instructor or an anybody.
NorthernMama likes this.
    10-22-2012, 12:31 PM
Sure, but I have worked on cattle stations from Darwin to southern Queensland and a fair stretch of country in-between, some stations as big as nearly a million acres with up to 60,000 head of cattle and some as small as 30-35, 000 acres, I have spent months at a time on a horse for up to and including 18hours at a stretch covering terrain from desert to mountains to monsoonal swamps riding everything from my own well trained and bred horses to mean run out station horses that will bite your face off just as soon as look at you and handled everything from nice quiet cattle to the kind of cattle that will gut a horse if they can get in range with their horns, and I have done it all, from the time I learned to ride properly, sitting with my feet under me; so this argument that having to have your feet forward for stability is nonsense. As I said, Im pretty sure I don’t have anything like a dressage seat, but I would rather sit the way I sit now any day than sitting back on my arse with my feet stuck out in front of the horses shoulders as if I'm in a chute coming out for a saddle bronc ride, wedged in the saddle in mortal terror of it dropping out and throwing me all day. And when I talk about the ozzy bush style of riding sitting “like a sack of Sh@#” is just part of it, I have seen guys cut barbed wire off a fence to put on their horse as a nose band thinking it will keep its head down, among other hideous things.
    10-22-2012, 01:57 PM
I can ride with my heels under me, and I can ride with my heels in front of me. I often choose to ride with my feet forwards, because it allows me greater leverage to stay on if my horse stops suddenly.

I do this, because I had a horse, a few years ago, that would bolt straight at fences [you couldn't turn this horse, not a snowball's chance in hell] then hit the skids a couple of strides out. Had I not adopted the chair seat, I would have been flung into fences many times over with that horse.

Ever since, I have tended towards defensive riding. I am still effective, but I'm not coming off if my horse suddenly stops. Riding defensively I have stuck on a lot more bucks than I have riding "correctly"!

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