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What is the right seat?

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  • How to use my seat bones in western pleasure

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    02-06-2013, 02:27 PM
  #11
Yearling
Quote:
Originally Posted by gottatrot    
Maura is right, there are a few different styles of correct seat. Personally, I find the most secure seat for all occasions is the eventing type seat, but I disagree that there is any amount of gripping. Gripping and tension are what get you off of a horse in a big spook. Instead, it is a method of weight distribution that puts an equal amount of weight lightly against the saddle and the horse from two inches below your crotch to the bottom of your foot.

Your leg is lightly on your horse (except for where it naturally curves away between the bottom of your calf and your foot) but not gripping or cueing. You are not standing heavily in the stirrups, but there is enough weight in there that if your horse were to suddenly lurch to one side, your stirrups would not come off your feet. To a casual observer, it looks like you are sitting on the horse, but your weight is only lightly in your seat and not pressing down like a sack of potatoes.

From this position it is easy to either stand up off the horse's back if you run into some rough ground or use your seat more strongly in the saddle for forward encouragement. I call it the "ski position" because you are bending your joints to keep your legs balanced under you whether you are standing straighter above the saddle or sitting down on top of it. It is good for riding strong horses on open country.

However, if you are showing in any discipline you need to learn what seat is required, whether the chair seat of saddleseat, the draping seat of dressage or the full butt seat of Western.
Ideally, the Dressage and Western seat SHOULD BE pretty much the same. It's a no-no in Western to ride that far back on your pockets. It's a centered and balanced seat with the same seat-bone feel of Dressage.
     
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    02-06-2013, 03:52 PM
  #12
Trained
Quote:
Originally Posted by GotaDunQH    
Ideally, the Dressage and Western seat SHOULD BE pretty much the same. It's a no-no in Western to ride that far back on your pockets. It's a centered and balanced seat with the same seat-bone feel of Dressage.
That may be true in Western Pleasure, but I sure heard the instructor I paid shout "Get on your pockets!" a lot. The video I posted of Craig Cameron is how a lot of western riders ride, but it is not a dressage seat.

The picture below is from 1906, but it isn't very different from what a lot of folks around here ride:



John Jackson, Matador range boss, looking out over a herd of 5,000 cattle at a roundup. Matador Ranch, Texas., 1906

That might get you pulled out of the saddle in a dressage competition, and a lot of folks see red over it, but it is a common style of riding in southern Arizona. I've tried it, but that extreme doesn't work well for me in my saddle on my horse. Seems to have worked OK for John Jackson, though...

That is why I think there are lots of approaches, and which one you use depends on your saddle as well as your goals and how your horse was trained. Look at the cantle on that saddle - it is way bigger than most are today. I can't imagine making it work for me, but it was once the norm in Texas:


Charles Myers cutting animals out from the herd. LS Ranch, Texas, 1907

Pictures are from this great website...hundreds of photos:

http://www.cartermuseum.org/collecti...mcat=3&scat=10
     
    02-06-2013, 03:58 PM
  #13
Started
I think for just getting back into it, using your thigh/calves to help you grip isn't such a bad idea. Just as long as you know it shouldn't become a habit and wean yourself off of it, which would naturally seem to happen with time anyways, or that's how it worked for me.
bsms likes this.
     
    02-07-2013, 02:41 AM
  #14
Weanling
Quote:
Originally Posted by bsms    
That may be true in Western Pleasure, but I sure heard the instructor I paid shout "Get on your pockets!" a lot. The video I posted of Craig Cameron is how a lot of western riders ride, but it is not a dressage seat.
Yep, that's what my former instructor who was also an AQHA judge used to say too...plus I see the butt seat a lot at shows around here. I haven't been to any bigger QH shows like the Worlds but at the big Arab shows the butt seat is common in Western Pleasure classes.

When I took dressage lessons my instructors definitely had me riding in a different seat than when I took WP lessons.
     
    02-07-2013, 06:33 AM
  #15
Yearling
If I rode western like those pics show...my trainer would have a FIT!! Watch any of the Western Horsemanship vids from the big shows on Youtube and you won't see ANY butt seats....you can't manuever a pattern seamlessly with a chair seat...just like you won't see that in a Dressage test.
     
    02-07-2013, 09:32 AM
  #16
Trained
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!
     

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