That is from an English riding thread, but most of my riding until recently was done in either an English or an Australian saddle, and I preferred riding with a forward seat. I also have a stiff lower back from an injury shortly after I took up riding. And I found it very hard to truly follow the motion of the horse's back so that I was cantering with the horse instead of "bouncing the canter".
So I started entering a canter in a half seat, and riding it that way. My 1/2 seat slowly progressed, depending on the day and my ability, to a 5/8 seat, a 3/4 seat, etc. In truth, even now in a western saddle, I probably enter the canter in a 3/4 seat, so to speak...and sometimes stay there.
For western riding, that is utterly untraditional. But it works for me, and it saves my horse's back. Some days, when my lower back is OK, I even ride the canter in a full seat. But I honestly think many people do not ride a full, deep seat canter well enough to allow the horse to use its back to the best of its ability.
No REAL western instructor would make that recommendation, but it worked for us.
A big part of what has attracted me to western riding is that it generally allows a rider and horse to do what they need to do to get the job done. With my background and my limitations, that was a good way to ease myself into a canter, particularly since my mare was trying to figure it all out at the same time I was! I didn't want her to dislike cantering, so I did what I needed to canter without hurting her and we've worked our way slowly forward ever since.
Also, on the same thread, Allison posted this good video - English riding, but so what?
This is a wealth of information. Thank you. Her limitation right now is that she only rides once a week, and it is during her lesson. In her English lessons a year ago she rode canter in half-seat only. (Of course, pretty much everyone here told me it was a wrong thing to do. I'm starting to learn that there are just as many opinions as their riders. But I appreciate everyone's feedback as it helps me to slowly learn.)
I'm going to get her some Centered Riding lessons in the summer, she really wants to, but not more than 4 or 8, in addition to her regular weekly lessonss, and maybe she can do a half lease when she's 13, in a year and a half time.
So of course she's learning much slower than a kid who can have a lesson and practice on their own or on a leased horse, but she's still learning, and having fun, and hopefully more riding opportunities will open up in the future.
^ there is nothing wrong with riding in half seat if you are hunt seat and riding jump courses. The problem with cantering in half seat/2 point (if you aren't a hunt seat rider or jumper doing courses)...is that your SEAT and SEAT BONES are one of the very important aids. Aids are seat, legs, and hands....and I guess you could add voice. But if you LOSE your seat communication, you are left with only TWO aids left....hands and leg. So if you have terrible hands and an unstable/ineffective leg....you are basically screwed.
"So if you have terrible hands and an unstable/ineffective leg....you are basically screwed."
Well, I've got a steady leg and adequate hands, and my cantering needs don't rise to the level of showing. What it DOES give an inexperienced or stiff rider - such as myself - is the ability to canter with a horse who is not impeded by the pounding of the rider's butt hitting the saddle out of synch with the horse.
And as you canter, you can feel the horse's rhythm and then work into it to whatever extent your body and ability allow.
The riding world I inhabit isn't filled with excellent trainers or even folks with extensive training. Most of the riders I know or that I see at a local stable are recreational riders who may or may not take lessons and who will never compete in regional or national or probably anything.
And like Maura, "I would much rather see an elementary or intermediate rider cantering in half seat, allowing the horse to move freely, than someone attempting and failing a full following seat and punishing the horse's back in the process." The western saddle is a forgiving design. It covers a multitude of sins by distributing weight (and impact) over a large area. But even so, I've seen enough unhappy horses cantering with bouncing riders to think a half seat can be a good way to learn the rhythm of the horse.
The lesson horses I've seen teaching riders to ride are little concerned with seat aids. They would be content with a forgiving seat - one that doesn't punish their backs. I'm 180 lbs in the shower, and my largest horse is 900 lbs. When I ride, I owe it to her to think about how I can be gentle on her back. Proper riding sometimes requires a rider to admit his own inadequacies, and to adjust accordingly for the horse's sake.
This rider, at 11.5 years of age and maybe 80 lbs ?, is not going to punish the school horse's back by sitting the canter. Either sitting the canter or half seating, you still need to follow with your hips. Boarding up the body will never work.
I do agree with Maura for riders like me; heavy and not so good at absorbing a big canter. It's better for the horse, and better for me, to do half seat.
My problem is that I should be able to do both , at will, instead of only do the one because I am incapable of doing the other.
This young girl is small, flexible and young, and the horse has a tiny little lope. She should be able to sit that canter just fine, then do half seat, then sit. But, know how to do both , at will, not by default.
I have never seen anyone riding in any western disciplines. (reining, cattle work, western pleasure, etc.) post.
Posting in a western saddle is inappropriate at a show, but most actual working cowboys will spend a good portion of their day posting. I post all the time, especially on Rafe. His trot is so big that it wears me out to sit it for more than 10-15 minutes at a time. Dobe, on the other hand, is so smooth that it's more of a workout to post than it is to sit LOL.
Anyway, back on topic. She's doing very well. As others have said, she's leaning back, but the balance and strength to sit straight for the lope will come in time. In spite of her being a little behind the motion and a little out of balance, she seems to have a good seat. She's not bouncing hard or flopping like so many riders do.
Truthfully, I think the biggest problem is that the saddle doesn't fit her very well. It's forcing her thighs and legs forward into a pretty bad chair seat which, in turn, is making the leaning back issue worse.
Most western saddles seem to be designed to force the rider into a chair seat by keeping their legs swung way out in front of them...making it almost impossible to actually align their body. Learning to ride correctly in a saddle like that can be done, but it's an uphill battle.
Here's a couple pictures to explain what I mean. This is my old roping saddle that I rode a few years ago. It has the fenders hung really far forward, which is typical of roping saddles. I could get my legs underneath me, but it was a massive workout and I was always fighting the saddle.
Then, I got my ranch saddle with the fenders hung a little farther back. It made having a correct seat so much easier.
"But, know how to do both, at will, not by default."
The point was not to use a half-seat instead of sitting a canter, but to use a half-seat to feel the rhythm of the horse so you can move WITH the horse while sitting.
My DIL claims, falsely, to be 5 foot even. She's probably 95 lbs. But when she was LEARNING to sit the trot, she pounded Trooper's back hard enough in a western saddle that Trooper clearly preferred cantering with my 180 lbs in an English or Australian saddle.
The problem I had was learning the motion. One of those mechanical horse things would have been nice, so I could feel the motion without souring my horse.
Where I took lessons, the horses were pretty sour on the whole cantering thing. And I couldn't blame them, because their 'reward' for cantering was to immediately have a bouncing rider who HOPEFULLY didn't also yank on the reins. Since I didn't want to sour my horse, and since she has a sensitive back, I used the half-seat to transition myself to sitting the canter. And I can sit the canter if I wish now...but I realized while riding Mia a few minutes ago that I enjoyed it more in a "3/4 seat" - rump lightly touching the saddle, but much of my weight in my heels and thighs.
It was just a suggestion, since the OP's daughter has ridden English and since I found it an easy way to develop a feel for a canter. I also like riding in a half-seat and do it some pretty much every ride. But it is not traditional western riding in any sense of the phrase!
"Most western saddles seem to be designed to force the rider into a chair seat by keeping their legs swung way out in front of them"
That describes my daughter...5'2" riding in a 16" saddle that forces the thighs to be darn near horizontal. But does she listen to Dad? BWAHAHAHAHA!!!!! - About as much as I listened to MY parents at 16! What is that saying about payback?