I am a passionate advocate for the true American system of forward seat riding. No, that does not mean I advocate jumping ahead, laying on the horse's neck, the floating faux crest release, or the hollow backed, duck butt posture and more than anyone else advocates for the worst characteristics of their chosen discipline.
The above is what I was referring to. (love the 'duck butt!)
I advocate for a freely forward moving, relaxed, obedient horse doing his job with as little interference or influence from his rider as possible, as close to his natural balance and movement as possible.
I do not think anyone could argue with this!
I'm going to stop there and address a point mentioned earlier, the idea of the importance of seat as an aid. Sorry, and I know this is going to upset people from dressage backgrounds, *your seat is not an aid in forward seat riding* period. Agreed - how can it be when the butt sould be out of the saddle?
There is some place for a full following seat, but no place for a driving seat or your seat as an aid.
Here I disagree, look at the videos posted and others of top riders and going into a fence they all resume a 'sitting more upright and seat in the saddle' position.
Your weight may be an aid, but your seat is not. The idea is that you have a horse that moves freely forward NOT held between your leg and hand, and that if you have established, pace, balance and direction correctly, you do absolutely nothing in the last three strides before the fence.
Ideally yes, a horse should be set up correctly but cross country is another matter and a horse can change his mind in the last three strides and the rider has to get those three strides set up which, if it requires a shortening of stride the seat should come into play.
This last bit is a concept I have heard repeated over and over by eventing instructors and clinicians, including some from the UK. Some riders, especially those with a strong dressage background, are just very reluctant to give up that seat to hand connection, but ultimately, I believe dependence on that seat to hand connection robs the horse of his ability to think for itself and jump his rider out of trouble when they inevitably make a mistake.
[COLOR="rgb(139, 0, 0)"]Not so! A mistake made usually results in the horse pecking or falling, a rider who can sit down and back allowing the reins to slip through their fingers, giving a horse its head but still having some contact, is more likely to get out of trouble than the rider who maintains a forward seat adding their weight to the front end which is already in trouble![/COLOR]
In an earlier thread on this forum about making the transition from American hunters to eventing, I summed up the various points by saying "Riders from an eventing background keep themselves in the tack unless circumstances dictate that they come out of it, riders from a hunter/forward seat background stay out of the tack unless circumstances dictate that they stay in it/take a deep seat." I have a pretty firm conviction that that's the better way, and I recently got support from and unexpected source.
Jimmy Wofford wrote an article in the August 2011 Practical Horseman called "The Science of Galloping" in which he referenced a 2008 Royal Veterinary College study which concluded that the workload on a horse was greatly reduced in the rider assumed a balanced, flexible galloping position out of the tack as opposed to seated in the tack.
No argument with this - it stands to reason that if the back end is left free to propel the forward motion, it is going to be easier!
Obviously you want to assume a defensive position jumping down banks, jumping into water, jumping downhill or in a tight, very technical combination where you need a lot of influence over the horse's stride. However, you are saving your horse work if the rest of the time, you are out of the tack, in a poised, balanced flexible two point position.
Here we are in total agreement!
The forward seat is a vital part of riding at speed so it makes it easier on the horse. No argument here at all. My original point was over the 'duck butt, ahead of the movement' position taught in the hunters arena.
The hardest thing to do when a horse makes a mistake, or, more likely, is trying its best to correct a rider error, is to sit still and do nothing!
Last edited by Foxhunter; 02-22-2012 at 03:35 AM.