Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: southern Arizona
My point is that balanced is NOT defined as "all weight going into the pelvis". Nor is it defined as having heels under the hip at all times. You can be well balanced on a horse AND have your feet forward of your hip. If you are doing something that involves sudden deceleration, feet forward can help.
The classical dressage seat is designed for collected gaits - something most horses don't do for long. It is not intended for riding a horse that is trying for maximum speed, or jumping.
Further, when I sit in a saddle (or a chair), a significant part of me weight is carried in my thighs. Maybe I'm the only person whose crotch is an inverted V instead of an inverted "U", but it is impossible for me to sit in a saddle without weight carried by my thighs. Thus my balance point should be not my 'seat' alone, but my seat in conjunction with my thighs. And that balance should shift constantly with what I'm trying to do as a rider.
Thus V.S. Littauer asked "are you in fluid balance and rhythm with your horse or not? B) does your seat enable you to control your horse efficiently?"
And the fluid balance of a dressage rider riding a collected gait would be different than a polo player accelerating to the ball, or a barrel racer, or someone chasing a steer.
Good or bad, I learned to ride on Mia, and that meant learning to ride a horse who sometimes jumped sideways, or who would spin 180, jump, spin 180, and then back up - all without any input from me. And my balance must be OK, because my only falls off of her have come when she exploded in mid-dismount. When you have one foot above your horse's rump, and they spin and leap...well, that describes both my falls.
It never occurred to me this would turn into a thread on the 'classical dressage seat'. It is ONE way of riding, and adapted for riding, well balanced, on a horse with collected gaits.
In my first post on this thread (#5), I wrote, "It might be that we know better now, but it also might be that the riding style they used was appropriate for the type horses they had and the work conditions they faced. I've never tried to push 2,000 steers thru unknown country for hundreds of miles. I've never ridden a half-broke horse for 24 hours straight in pee-poor weather, knowing that a fall could kill me. I'd be very careful before assuming we know vastly more than they did then. In some areas (jumping comes to mind), we DO know a lot more than a rider in the 1860s. But what most of us do not know is what the riders of the time really faced, day-to-day."
I wouldn't suggest thinking the Texas cowboys of 1876 were incompetent just because their style of riding differs from most modern riding - or that all riders with their feet forward today are incompetent. The horse, the saddle, the rider's build, the goal, what the horse IS doing and what you want him to do next - all those affect how you ride a horse.
BTW - my horses stop with their four feet in the corners, and they stand their happily without shuffling. Just prior to the stop, my feet are often forward. At the stop, my heels are beneath me. Fluid.
"People can teach us the rules, but only horses can teach us the art of riding."