For a competition in an arena with rules and judges, you ride the way you expect the judges to judge you. If you aren't a competitor, you have more options.
I like my heel under my belt buckle most of the time, and I usually ride with more weight on my thighs than on my pockets, using an Aussie-style saddle. But the cowboys of 1900 roped, cut cattle, galloped over rough terrain - all using an approach that I find uncomfortable above a light jog. And I've run into folks who still ride like that, and they and their horses seem to get along fine. The guy who wrote my signature line was a big proponent of a forward seat, but I think he was correct about what is a "proper seat":
"...there are only two criteria of your position;
a) are you in fluid balance and rhythm with your horse or not?
b) does your seat enable you to control your horse efficiently?"
- V.S. Littauer
I'm not in any way criticizing dressage or western pleasure or hunters or any other approach. The various disciplines have developed styles that works best for what they want to do. Anyone who wants to jump ought to study and ride the way jumpers do, for example. It is silly not to learn from the experiences of others.
For Frog316: There is a section on the forum (Horse Riding Critique
) that offers critiques of people riding, all different styles. Not every comment posted there is correct, and certainly I'm often wrong - but it is a good and easy way to see how others ride and what others think of their riding. Anyone with Internet access can pick up a lot of ideas by reading there. Good luck!