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Dear Dana: How can I become more confident in my seat?

By DANA HOKANA - Horsetrader columnist - March 5th, 2015 - Q&A Dear Dana

Dear Dana,
I am a beginner rider and when I take lessons at my local riding club I just don’t feel like I am very secure on the horse in my seat! I have come up out of the saddle a few times, not off of the horse, just out of the saddle. I am starting to lose confidence. My instructor keeps telling me that we need to work on my seat. Do you have any pointers?


Dear Marcy,
This is a valid concern! Your seat is such a vital part of your riding, to be effective as well as for your safety. When you have a good seat you are able to catch your horses rhythm. You can flow. When your seat is improved you can get closer to riding as one with your horse. Your hips or pelvis need to be flexible to move with the horse. They will be your primary breaking or pivot point. Not your waist or your upper body, but your hips. As you learn to unlock your hips and relax your lower back, you can sit down on your pockets and engage the first and most important body part, which is your seat!

I teach my riders to feel their horse’s rhythm, his motion and the definite beat to his gaits. To have a truly great seat you need to understand your body and your horse’s body. Each of your horse’s three gaits has a different beat. I teach my riders to feel the beat and unlock their body to become hooked up with the horse’s gaits. Allow your body to move with or catch the rhythm remembering to unlock your hips and allow your body to catch the beat.

Another key point is to learn to control your breathing. It truly relates to a good seat. When you breathe correctly, taking a full deep breath through your diaphragm, your seat aligns itself in the correct position on your horse. Deep breathing expands your ribcage and positions your seat correctly. It also relaxes you and makes you more aware of your body, your horse’s body, and his gaits. As your seat is centered where it belongs, your balance improves which allows your hand and leg cues to become smoother and clearer and your timing becomes better.

I hope this helps you to improve your seat and gain the confidence that you need to have a great ride!


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