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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So, I am through and through an eventer. However, I did begin my riding career at a hunter barn and have temporarily returned to one at the moment. I've showed a few times and placed quite well in the hunter ring, but was really too young at that point to ask the whys of things.

At this point in my life I am very interested in the theory behind riding and not just the mechanics. I have invested quite a lot of time into learning thoroughly about the reason for different styles and ways of riding in eventing, and have also gotten into and learned much about dressage as a discipline itself, not just as part of eventing.

So my question is this, in dressage it is stressed that the rider maintain a deep independent seat in order to drive the horses hindquarters and encourage correct impulsion and such. This is also somewhat important in show jumping so as to make it over those higher jumps. Am I right? So if this is the case, then why is it hunters are told to lean slightly forward? Especially in the canter. It seems to me to go against what riding theory I know, and also seems as though it would put you in a more likely position to take a spill if your horse spooks sideways or balks. Could someone please explain? Thanks!
 

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I can't tell you why, but not all hunters are told to lean forward (this is called a half-seat if I'm not mistaken). At my barn (which is hunter) one trainer teaches using a half-seat but my trainer teaches us keep a deep seat and lean back through turns and such. It might just be a "hunter fad".
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Possibly. Though the position in which I was instructed to ride just this week was by no means half seat. Simply tipping my upper body slightly forward and moving my hands a few inches up the neck. Hence my confusion.
 

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Possibly. Though the position in which I was instructed to ride just this week was by no means half seat. Simply tipping my upper body slightly forward and moving my hands a few inches up the neck. Hence my confusion.
That's what's referred to as a light seat or 3 point seat. Still touching the saddle with both butt cheeks and pelvis, but just forward enough to supposedly feel lighter in the saddle and be effectively off your horse's back. I'm still not sure I buy into this particular seat. Weight is weight. I'm not sure it matters to the horse where it is distributed.
 

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Half-seat, which is what I ride when jumping, has more to do with getting off your horse's back so that he can more effectively clear an obstical than anything else, IMO. When you ride "deep" to a fence it's also nearly impossible to keep with the motion of your horse. In other words, you're more apt to get left behind. Since that's the *last* thing you want--using your reins as ski ropes is not condusive to teaching a horse to trust you--I believe this is the most important reason. Again, IMO. But I've trained with some of the best hunter barns in the nation and so I feel I have a pretty good grasp of things. :)

Interestng question!

Pam
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
That's what's referred to as a light seat or 3 point seat. Still touching the saddle with both butt cheeks and pelvis, but just forward enough to supposedly feel lighter in the saddle and be effectively off your horse's back. I'm still not sure I buy into this particular seat. Weight is weight. I'm not sure it matters to the horse where it is distributed.
I'm pretty sure the point of 2-point, and 3-point if you are correct has nothing to do with the fact that there is weight and everything to do with the weight be off the back. Although they are still carrying the weight, it is not longer concentrated on their back and, thus, allows them to use their back more freely. I might be wrong though.

Half-seat, which is what I ride when jumping, has more to do with getting off your horse's back so that he can more effectively clear an obstical than anything else, IMO. When you ride "deep" to a fence it's also nearly impossible to keep with the motion of your horse. In other words, you're more apt to get left behind. Since that's the *last* thing you want--using your reins as ski ropes is not condusive to teaching a horse to trust you--I believe this is the most important reason. Again, IMO. But I've trained with some of the best hunter barns in the nation and so I feel I have a pretty good grasp of things. :)

Interestng question!

Pam
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You have quite the point, and thank you for your post. At this point I am assuming the position in which I was being instructed to ride is called 3-point, as MyBoyPuck said, and is used as a lesser version of half seat and for the same reasons. However, being an eventer, I've found that although you really need to make sure you pick yourself up off your horse's back, sometimes riding deep to a jump is necessary xD Just what I've found though. I know jumps in the hunter ring are quite different from those found in stadium jumping.
 

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There are a few reasons. Everything PBritton said about getting off your horse's back so you can allow him to move and jump without interfering. If you are sitting straight up and down towards the fence, you're actually a little behind the motion and you'll have to throw your body forward to stay with him over the air which actually hinders his jumping ability and affects your (and his) balance. If you are in your medium seat (inbetween a 2 point and a full seat) you can allow for your horse's jump to close your hip angles and jump up to you. However, I sometimes will stretch up a little in the corners to help my horse balance if they need it and then go back to the medium seat towards the fence. (this is all fairly minute, not a big change in upper body position)

Also, the carriage of a dressage horse and the jumper are a little different then the hunter. For hunters you want your horse more long and low that's balanced but a little more "natural" then the carriage of a dressage horse/jumper. Remember Hunters are based off the hunt field. Your horse is being judged on a nice efficient ground covering stride that is easy to ride. It's not about collection like dressage is so your goal is to stay over his center of gravity and allow him to move by staying with his motion. At the walk or stand still the horse's center of gravity is pretty much right under yours as you sit vertically. At the trot, your horse's center of gravity shifts slightly forward. Imagine your center of gravity while you're walking down the street. When you break out into a run you lean your upper body forward as your center of gravity shifts a little forward (most people don't run w/ their body's straight up and down) When your horse's trots their center of gravity changes as well. And you change your body position to move with your horse.
 

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Just to clarify... "3 point" comes from 3 points of contact - leg, leg, seat. "2 Point" has 2 points of contact, leg, leg, no seat. -That's your jumping position over the fence. The half seat, medium seat, and light seat are usually described as the same position (although some will consider them differing degrees of lightness in the seat or upper body angle) is in the between the 2 and 3 point.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Oh, wow. Thank you upnover, that actually explains a lot. To be quite honest, I never was quite sure about the point of the hunter discipline. That makes a lot more sense now! Haha. Thank you again.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Haha. Not a problem! Typos happen :]
 

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I usally do a half seat when I am cantering then sometimes I gotta sit nice and tall.
 

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Yeah, upnover!

I would also like to further add that on a hunter, you are not supposed to be using your seat as an aid. You use your *weight* as an aid by changing your body position and opening and closing your hip angle, but not a driving seat as on a dressage horse. Hunters used to be shown entirely in two point; now seeing a rider using a full, following seat at the canter on the flat is more common. I personally dislike seeing a hunter rider take a dressagy seat in the corners to balance up for the change or reestablish pace; it should be done out of forward seat, IMO.

Another way to think of it is that a hunter is supposed to have "cruise control" - once you set your pace in your opening hunter circle, ideally, the horse is supposed to carry that lick *without further rider adjustments* all the way around the course, meeting all his fences out of that stride. On a good, well-schooled hunter, you should have the lightest possible passive contact and your seat out of the saddle.

VERY different that what you want from an event horse or a show jumper.

I come from a hunter background; and certain parts of that education are invaluable if your going to ride eventers or showjumpers: being able to recognize and produce that "lick", the 12 foot stride anytime, anywhere; knowing when to trust your horse and not interfere for best results, and knowing how to influence pace and balance very subtly without disturbing the rhythm.
 

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Oops. That was supposed to say another great post. I suffer from premature post button disorder. ;)

Pam
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Geoff Teall wrote a great book about the whys and wherefores of hunter riding that you may want to check out. It'll answer allllll your questions.
 
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