How To Correct A Chair Seat

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How To Correct A Chair Seat

This is a discussion on How To Correct A Chair Seat within the English Riding forums, part of the Riding Horses category

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    09-02-2011, 03:41 PM
How To Correct A Chair Seat

Ok so I have a fairly awful chair seat. I am not sure if it is the saddle or me, I am just using a lesson saddle and I am not sure if it fits me correctly or not. I try to put my legs farther back when I am riding and it just kind of throws me off. I do have fairly long thighs so I don't know if that plays a part in anything or not. Any suggestions on how to help correct it? I don't have any pics I will try to get some on wedensday at my lesson.
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    09-02-2011, 04:12 PM
It could be either.

Gravity wants to force our rumps into the lowest part of the saddle, and to keep the stirrups hanging vertical. Anything out of those positions will require overcoming gravity.

When you sit in the lowest part of the saddle, and let the stirrups hang loose, where are they? If you have to move your feet forward to get them in the stirrup, then the saddle is trying to put you in a chair seat.

However, sometimes our bodies do it to us. For most of the first 3 years of my riding, I've used a chair seat. My legs and hips just would not flex enough to allow them to hang loose beneath me. So I had to choose - a relaxed leg with a bit of a chair seat, or a tense leg without one.

I find a relaxed leg is more important to a good seat than leg position, so I had a mild chair seat. OK, more than mild. With time, my body is getting looser and I'm increasingly able to have my legs relaxed AND my heels at my hip. That helps me sit deep and also helps me keep my shoulders back - but I started at 50, and 40 years of daily jogging left me VERY tight.

Even now, I can get my heels under my hip IF I'm riding my narrow Arabians. If I ride a 1200 lb Quarter Horse, it ain't happening. Back to a chair seat for me.

So it depends. Also, a chair seat can be a defensive reaction due to fear the horse will stop suddenly and we'll pitch forward.

I still think a relaxed, loose leg is better than heels under hip/toes forward/etc. It isn't that the other things are bad, just that some of us can't get there right now without putting tension in our legs. And any tension in my legs makes me bounce like I'm on rubber.

In my limited experience of 3 years, lots of books and instructors teach based on what THEY can do, and not what a beginner can do. You can explore the chair seat with your instructor while the horse is standing still. Your instructor SHOULD be able to feel your leg in different positions, see where you are seated in the saddle, and tell you if you are able to ride relaxed without a chair seat.
    09-02-2011, 04:16 PM
Firstly, don't be hard on yourself for it; it takes time to adapt the human body to the proper "standing in your horse" position! Tendons & all must go thru changes!

Stretching the front thigh muscles is really good: bend knee, heel to bum, grab foot with same side hand, gently hold in a vector, move to other vectors. Can be done standing on one leg, or lying on one's side.
    09-02-2011, 04:18 PM
A chair seat is very natural for anybody that starts to ride. You are not balanced when you sit this way and you are bracing against the stirrups for security. This is normal, too, bc the darned horse moves you around when he walks and trots and canters--WHY can't he move more like a car?!?!?
Seriously, the best remedy is to sit a VERY safe lesson horse for many lessons without stirrups. You just let your legs hang down and let your toes point downwards, too. It all has to do with riding weighted. The longer you are sitting in a saddle, the more weighted your body becomes, and this corrects your chair seat. Since you are taking lessons, you are not sitting the saddle long enough to have this happen. Therefore, riding for hours and hours without stirrups will correct this.
Many 19th century painters, like Remington, observed that the Native Americans were great horseman and they loved to paint them.

See^? Perfect leg in line with the hip and the shoulder. Also, note that his body is balanced independant of the reins. Hope this helps!! If you'd like to talk more about this, please PM me! =D
    09-02-2011, 04:33 PM
Riding positions are solely based on balance. It's kind of like an automatic balance-the-scale system. The center of the saddle is the pivot point. So, for example, if you move your legs back, your upper body will automatically come forwards to balance your weight.

The chair seat is usually caused because the rider is sitting too far back on their butt instead of on their seat bones. Your seat bones are basically what they sound like: bones that you sit on. But in order to sit on them, you need to roll your hips forward. You should feel it when you're sitting correctly.

Just by doing this, you are encouraging your leg to slide back and beneath you. If you try to bring your legs under you when you are sitting too far back, it will be uncomfortable and unsafe because you are unbalanced. Fix the way you are sitting and it will become much easier to bring it back.

Once you've fixed the problem of your seat, focus on dropping the weight into your heels. Make sure you are not gripping with your knees, which is another common cause of the chair seat. Also, remember always: balance. If your leg still slides forward, consider the possibility that you may be tipping backwards with your upper body. If this is the case, try to lean forwards a bit.

But remember: it's not going to be extremely easy. When riding in chair seat, you are slacking. You are depending on other parts of your body like your knees and butt instead of using your muscles. When you start riding properly, you're muscles are probably going to be fairly weak and very sore. But keep at it, and pretty soon you'll gain the muscle you need to continuously ride correctly. It all comes with practice.

These are the basic reasons of why you could be sitting in chair seat, but of course it would be much easier to identify the core problem if we could see some pictures. That way, we could tell you exactly what the problem is and exactly how to fix it. Post some as soon as you can.

Hope I was helpful.
    09-02-2011, 04:54 PM
Originally Posted by emeraldstar642    
...The center of the saddle is the pivot point. So, for example, if you move your legs back, your upper body will automatically come forwards to balance your weight...
In all honesty, that is contrary to my experience. When I move my feet forward, my shoulders follow. Why? Because if they didn't, I would pivot at the saddle and end up lying on the horse. So if I move my feet forward, my shoulders follow. This puts my center of gravity on a vertical line halfway between my toes and my rump. Thus I am 'balanced'.

If I move my feet too far back, I tend to throw my shoulders back to compensate and retain my 'balance'.

I've noticed this very strongly this last month, because it is only very recently that I could stretch enough to put my heels under my hips while trotting - and suddenly, my whole "Put your shoulders back!" (to quote my instructor about 1000 times) just happens.

When my heels are forward, my shoulders want to follow like this: >

If I don't, then I would do this: / until I did this: --

I don't know if that makes sense, and I don't know if anyone else is like me.

It may be a bit hard to see, but look at my avatar - taken a couple of years ago. Both feet and shoulders are forward.
    09-02-2011, 04:58 PM
Here is a picture from 2 1/2 years ago - shoulders and feet both forward:

    09-03-2011, 09:40 PM
Thanks guys! Any other help/suggestions? I really want to fix this.
    09-03-2011, 09:45 PM
Originally Posted by bsms    
When my heels are forward, my shoulders want to follow like this: >

If I don't, then I would do this: / until I did this: --

I don't know if that makes sense, and I don't know if anyone else is like me.

It may be a bit hard to see, but look at my avatar - taken a couple of years ago. Both feet and shoulders are forward.
It makes sense... but I don't understand what you are disagreeing about; you basically restated what I said, just adding a little bit extra. First of all, you said "if I don't, then I would do this: /". Well, that's what I mean by it's an automatic thing to move back to balance your weight. HOWEVER, what happens to you is that you know when your upper body is too far back, and so when your leg comes forward (and your upper body moves back), your automatic reaction is to fix that by moving your upper body forward. Thus, the reason that you are moving forward like this: > is in attempt to fix your upper body, not to 'follow your leg'. I never said it was impossible to have both your feet and upper body forwards. :P

I hope that made sense...
    09-03-2011, 10:01 PM
^^ It did.

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