Who here trains their horses to go completely by seat? - The Horse Forum

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post #1 of 12 Old 07-31-2012, 08:43 PM Thread Starter
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Who here trains their horses to go completely by seat?

I'm just wondering how many people prefer to ride\train their horses to go completely off seat? When I ride, I prefer not to use the reins. I hold them very loosely, but that's all.
I'm in the process of breaking my boy, and am working on training him completely off seat. So far he walks, trots, turns, and backs without having to touch the reins. We are working on turning the hind end only, or the forehand only, and are making good process.
Who else prefers to ride in this fashion? Every says I'm weird for riding\training my horses like this?
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post #2 of 12 Old 07-31-2012, 08:47 PM
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I don't think you're weird, because that is how you SHOULD be riding
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post #3 of 12 Old 07-31-2012, 08:53 PM Thread Starter
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Oh really!? I grew up in a old school farm country, and we were all taught to steer with the reins (neck reining) along with seat, and to use your legs for forward, and seat and reins for stopping. We also all always broke horses like this as well. (Mainly for ranch work, and trail riding). Guess I'll have to inform everyone we've been doing it wrong all these years when I go visit :)).
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post #4 of 12 Old 08-01-2012, 12:04 AM
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It's very good to allow your horse to listen to your seat and leg cues - but eventually you will need to do maneuvers that require you to use your reins and help guide him - for example, lifting his shoulders, lifting his back... to step off into a canter he will need to be able to drive his hip deep while you lift that shoulder up allowing him to get the correct lead.

For me, not having to rely on the reins makes things much easier, but my horse has to know and accept that bit contact for me to control all of her body parts in the different gaits...

Congrats on working with your boy this way - it speaks to him not being stressed or anxious - and that is a great thing :)
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post #5 of 12 Old 08-01-2012, 12:12 AM
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While it is something to work toward, having your horse responsive to no more than seat and leg cues, it's not always the ideal for certain types of riding. For me, it's simply not realistic to try to train my horses to go off of nothing but seat. Some of the riding that I do, I am leaned off to one side or leaned forward or backward, sometimes I have to sit crooked in the saddle, etc. If my horses were specifically trained to be responsive to any form of seat pressure, then they would be getting constant conflicting signals. So, I train using a combination of seat, leg, and rein cues because that's what works best for the type of riding I do.
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post #6 of 12 Old 08-01-2012, 01:05 AM
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That's the aim with my horse. I of course have him working to rein cues (English riding so direct reining) as well, but I'd like my horse to be able to do at least basic work purely from seat and legs to allow hand cues to remain as light as possible when they're brought into play. But at the same time I think the mouth needs to be taught to respond, and not forgotten about. I tend to find horses respond a bit faster to seat cues, however (natural instinct to rebalance themselves rather than a trained behaviour like a rein cue).

I certainly do not want it stepping under me at the halt every time I shift my weight, however. I'm working toward having my horse understanding that halt is default until leg cues tell otherwise (not leaning forward or anything - would make opening an arena gate or adjusting girth and stirrups while mounted impossible!).
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post #7 of 12 Old 08-01-2012, 03:04 AM
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I don't do solely seat, unless you're including legs in that. I do train/ride mostly like this, using reins little, but other than sticking to an arena/safe area, not willing to give up reins completely, when out on the road or trail.
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post #8 of 12 Old 08-01-2012, 06:26 AM
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The real test of whether your horse does actually go off seat aids only is to do five repetitions of an action you believe its cued only by the seat. Most horses will do three or maybe four, but by the fifth it usually gets blurry and starts to fall apart because the seat by itself doesn't reinforce (reward) correct responses in the way that rein and leg cues do.

Most people who believe they are only using their seat will still resort to reins and leg cues, even if these are very slight or subtle. Even bridleless/saddleless riding still uses negatively reinforced cues to back up the seat. And often, very strong pressures have been applied immediately after a seat cue to teach the horse that if they don't respond to the seat they will get a hell of a yank in their mouth or kick in the side. This is a form of classical conditioning underpinned by negative reinforcement.
When they work well, seat cues are good news for horses because they can let the horse avoid experiencing unpleasant pressures on its bodies, but in reality, very few horses go from seat cues alone.
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post #9 of 12 Old 08-01-2012, 07:28 AM
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I have trained my horse to respond to seat, legs, reins, in that order. I would cue with my seat add legs if needed then reins to reinforce my body cues. Using reins only as needed. Eventually she learned to respond to my body cues.
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post #10 of 12 Old 08-01-2012, 11:20 AM
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I am with smrobs completely because of the type riding that I do. It is also complicated by my health issues and occasional loss of use of hands and/or legs. All of my horses will work off just seat, legs, or reins. Or they will work off any combination of cues. I prefer to use the combination of seat, legs, and hands but know that I can trust my horses to respond correctly no matter the circustances. They will also respond to voice cues....I have to depend on these horses to keep me safe whether I am doing ranch work, penning, or sorting.
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