10 January 2012

Regarding a Quiet Seat and Hands Through Movement...

A great horseman - Bruce Sandifer sums it up like this:

"The only way for a rider to get a quiet seat and hands is through movement not stillness."

This is a huge topic with many layers, but first it begs the question - what is "a quiet seat and hands"?

The answer is a rider who moves with the horse in such a way as to appear like they are still.

Secondly, what does "movement [and] not stillness" mean?

These riders flow with every movement of the horse - like they are one body, molded together. To do that, the rider must properly align their body without relying on the reins to balance their torso. Nor do they grip, squeeze or brace their legs against the horse to balance their lower body.

They have learned to ride in a relaxed, upright posture without being stiff.

They know that stillness equals stiffness. And stiffness causes the horse to stop flowing freely forward.

They have learned to balance, not by pulling or squeezing or bracing against something. Instead, they have learned to balance by moving their mid-section in time with the horse's mid-section, thus allowing them to ride with an independent seat.

For the betterment of the horse, this is something every rider should strive to achieve.


  1. Just one chiropractic adjustment made a tremendous difference for me in this.

  2. Hula-hoops and belly dancing work well, too!

  3. This was so excellent, Dee! In just a few clear paragraphs, you have given me so much to think about. Can you give me some ideas for learning this mid-section flexibility and balance? Core strength would be important, I would imagine? I've been talking with a friend about hooping, she said it's great for core strength and flexibility. What do you suggest? I'm excited! I want so much to move with my horse, not feel like I'm fighting against him, getting in his way, and burdening him with my counter-energy. Thank you!

  4. I'm not a big proponent of core strength. I love the hoop and belly dancing for learning how to get "in touch" with the muscles in your mid-section, but creating strength there, causes stiffness in a rider. I am a huge proponent of something I call a following core. Try this exercise to learn about it...
    Mounted in a saddle, create a NICE BIG FORWARD walk. Hold the reins in your outside hand at the buckle or end of the mecate loop. Place the palm of your inside hand on the bony protrusion of your horse's hip, just behind the cantle. You'll feel a lot of movement when you do this. Walk around for several minutes and just learn to FEEL. Here are two things to become aware of:
    1. The hip moves up and down as well as forward and back.
    2. The hip moves the horse's ribcage to the opposite side, causing the ribcage (or barrel) to swing right and left.
    Now take your hand off the horse's hip and see if you can feel how the horse moves your inside hip forward and back, up and down, right and left.
    Some people feel this right away and realize they haven't been moving in time with their horse's mid-section. Others never feel this and have to be taught to follow. Still others feel some of these movements and not others and find they are restricted in how they are able to influence their horse's movement.
    Play around with this and let me know how it goes, then I'll give you some more!

  5. How cool is that, can't wait to try it. I know I've been trying to relax into the walk for awhile now, am much better than I used to be. My friend mentioned a phrase, "hips to hands" - I've watched her closely and I get what she's saying. I used to try to DO that movement, but now I GET it more just by relaxing and following the horse's movement more naturally.

  6. You have such a clear way of teaching, Dee, thanks. :)