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-   -   Half-Seat Canter? (http://www.horseforum.com/english-riding/half-seat-canter-88212/)

NoHorse 06-03-2011 04:17 PM

Half-Seat Canter?
 
I recently started riding lessons after about 8 years of just summer camps, and it's been going surprisingly well. :)
But in my last lesson, there was a problem. The horse was being plain lazy and would not hold up a good canter; this ended up being what we worked on for the whole lesson.
The instructor told me to use my leg, not my seat, to control the canter, since using the seat tells the horse to slow down and collect. She said to point my toes out, dig (for lack of a better word) my heels into the horse, and to use my lower leg while keeping the upper relaxed. It just didn't make sense to me. When I tried as hard as I could to squeeze with my lower leg, I just pinned myself down to the saddle- bringing me back to the 'slow down and collect' thing.
So after my lesson, I was thinking about it and all the mechanics, and thought maybe my problem is I need to try a half-seat canter. In my first lesson when I attempted the canter, I was much more comfortable sitting it (now that I think about it, I've probably always sat the canter) so the instructor let me. I tried the half-seat position a bit but it felt like I had a chair seat or was just unbalanced somehow. Maybe I confuse two-point with half-seat?

If someone could explain a half-seat canter, that would be great. Should you be touching the saddle at all? How is your upper body supposed to be?

Thank you!

corporate pride 06-04-2011 10:34 AM

2 point isn't a chair seat, not riding position is a chair seat.

half seat also known as light seat - to ride into the stirrups as such. so instead of sitting you will transfer all your weight to your stirrups, you will lighten your seat so your not sitting all weight into the saddle so your just hovering above the saddle or just touching it. if your unbalanced it won't work, i suggest spurs. also every time the horse loses that tiny bit of forward movement in the canter, give it a kick and do it all the time. i think it's just laziness and riders letting it happen. my ex eventer was soooo lazy, i rode him in spurs, i would ask for canter, if he didn't listen to the squeeze then it was followed by a kick then a spur. he moves off tghe kick LOL but i have to keep asking him to maintain it. you get very strong legs!!! i bought another horse and i didn't realise it but i would ask him to canter like my other horse and he took off!! LOL
it's the art of finding what works. if the horse is that lazy then spurs or swhip or both. sometimea just having it there is enough for the horse to listen. some horses are too smart for their own good LOL

good luck and start doing squats!

NoHorse 06-04-2011 12:10 PM

Thank you, corporate!
Thinking of it as 'light seat' really helps.

I think the horse was just having a bad day... The first lesson I had (the one I was referring to before was only the second), he was very responsive and even jumped into the canter a few times when I asked him to trot. His canter- when he feels like doing it- is a dream. This second lesson, the weather was kinda gloomy and I had to convince him to wake up and get up when I got him from his stall. So, I don't know what he'll be like in the third lesson... I'll schedule it for a day with nice weather. :)
I feel funny asking for spurs or a whip, though. I've used whips and crops before, but never spurs, and I don't want to seem like I'm saying 'This isn't working so it's obviously the horse's fault'.

MIEventer 06-04-2011 01:42 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by NoHorse (Post 1055440)
I recently started riding lessons after about 8 years of just summer camps, and it's been going surprisingly well. :)
But in my last lesson, there was a problem. The horse was being plain lazy and would not hold up a good canter; this ended up being what we worked on for the whole lesson.
The instructor told me to use my leg, not my seat, to control the canter, since using the seat tells the horse to slow down and collect. She said to point my toes out, dig (for lack of a better word) my heels into the horse, and to use my lower leg while keeping the upper relaxed. It just didn't make sense to me. When I tried as hard as I could to squeeze with my lower leg, I just pinned myself down to the saddle- bringing me back to the 'slow down and collect' thing.
So after my lesson, I was thinking about it and all the mechanics, and thought maybe my problem is I need to try a half-seat canter. In my first lesson when I attempted the canter, I was much more comfortable sitting it (now that I think about it, I've probably always sat the canter) so the instructor let me. I tried the half-seat position a bit but it felt like I had a chair seat or was just unbalanced somehow. Maybe I confuse two-point with half-seat?

If someone could explain a half-seat canter, that would be great. Should you be touching the saddle at all? How is your upper body supposed to be?

Thank you!

To achieve the 1/2 seat, light seat position - you have to be balanced over your feet, first and foremost. Find your balance there first. Then when you do, focus on now gripping or pinching anywhere in your legs, and to allow your bodies weight to flow down from your head, into your heels, so that they can be your anchors.

When you find your balance, and your anchors - then you can lift yourself slightly out of your tack, where your seat is just hovering over your saddle. Tuck your seat bone under you, straitening your lower back, and activate your core. Without your core, you cannot control the tempo and rhythm of your canter.

Tall upper body, opened chest - as though you are lifting your heart. Your legs, are asking your horse to come up into your seat every upstride of the canter your horse makes - "come to me" - your legs aren't mainting the canter, your core is.

Your core is was makes or breaks the speed, tempo and rhythm.

I hope that helps.

GeminiJumper 06-05-2011 02:01 PM

If your legs are in the chair seat position, you will have a hard time doing two-point or half seat because you need your leg underneath you to perform either of these two. Half seat is a seat position where your butt/seat bones are just hovering over the saddle. You aren't as far up as in two point. Its kind of a way to stay connected to your horse but you aren't on his back. Your leg should be underneath you in a relaxed manner, with your heel gently down. You will hold your position with your calf, knee and thigh. Your upper body should be up but not vertical and you should be in balance over your legs. You should rely on your muscle memory to hold this position for you, not the bit and the horse's mouth. Grab some mane if you need help at first.

gypsygirl 06-05-2011 05:01 PM

i would not use spurs if i were you. if you are not balanced/balanced over your leg and do not have a steady, controlled position, you will end up accidentally spurring your horse.

serafina 06-05-2011 06:43 PM

Do you do a half-seat at any other paces? My trainer has me work on this at a walk - you do get a feel for posture and balance, even at the slow speed.

I recently got some good advice about holding myself above the seat - my trainer (also a woman) suggested I think of the saddle as a public toilet - the kind you don't really want to touch with your skin, but where you need to get close enough to it to make sure things don't sprinkle. :lol: I know it's kind of a gross analogy, but it worked for me...I instantly knew what she wanted me to do! :lol:

Spyder 06-05-2011 07:16 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by NoHorse (Post 1055440)
not my seat, to control the canter, since using the seat tells the horse to slow down and collect.!


Just a correction.

What you were told is incorrect. The dressage rider MUST use their seat to get any sort of decent extension/impulsion from the horse.

ErikaLynn 06-06-2011 12:13 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Spyder (Post 1057004)
Just a correction.

What you were told is incorrect. The dressage rider MUST use their seat to get any sort of decent extension/impulsion from the horse.


I was also going to say that. Not just for dressage, using your seat for any discipline gets more impulsion.

NoHorse 06-06-2011 05:35 PM

Serafina- LOL that's a good analogy! It's actually really helpful. :)

Thank you for clearing that up, Spyder and ErikaLynn. :)


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