The half seat also is known as the jumping position or the two-point seat.  Yes, I said jumping.  
Soon, you're going to go out onto the trail, which isn't really as flat as you might have thought,
especially on a horse.  You must learn how to take little jumps over fallen trees or streams and how
to ride at higher speeds.  The half seat can help you do that more easily and securely.  With the
help of the half seat, you're also going to learn how to canter in this lesson.
Sampson has an especially humorous personality.  He like to lick the back of the farrier's head
when getting trimmed and reshod.  He likes to rough-and-tumble with other horses in the field and
to box with them while standing on his hind legs.  That's why he's in a pasture reserved for the "bad
boys."  These horses aren't really bad, they're just a very silly, especially rambunctious group, so
we keep them together instead of with other horses that might not be able to tolerate their antics.
Sampson is perhaps best known for his love of watermelon.  If you're picnicking with watermelon
and he's free-grazing nearby, watch out.  He'll knock over the table, and you, to get to it.
Under saddle, Sampson has an unusual habit.  He squeals like a pig, which is his way of
complaining when you ask him to do something.  But he's very safe and actually a bit lazy, despite
his size.  You'll definitely need the mounting block.  But remember, you can't judge a horse's
temperament by his size, and it's clear that, like Toby, Sampson is another gentle giant.
The Half Seat
Just as a half halt is half a halt, a half seat is half a seat.  You aren't sitting fully down into the
saddle.  To learn the half seat position, it will help if you study the posture you assume when
jumping off something, such as a low porch.  You don't jump off a porch with your back and legs
stiff and straight.  It'll hurt.  Instead, applying basic physics, you bend slightly forward so that your
back, knees, and ankles flex to absorb the shock.  You do likewise with the half seat.
Ask Sampson to trot around the ring and take the half seat position.  Keep joints and absorb the
You must find the proper balance, and your hands are integral to this; they should be halfway up
the horse's neck, more or less underneath your forehead.  You should feel as though your body is
staying at the same level, in the same place, as the horse moves underneath you, with only your
joints adjusting to Sampson's movement.  You should feel;your calves flexing: They will flex down
for just a moment, then release as you follow along.
If you can't feel ;your upper calves against Sampson's side, turn your toes out slightly.  (Having
bowed legs would help the half seat come easily).

A Note to Your Instructor

I teach students to canter in half seat.  I've found that the bouncing of the canter can upset both
horse and rider.  Half seat enables riders to better absorb the shock while they start to feel the
motion of the canter.  I only use half seat, however, until riders become comfortable with the
concept of cantering.  Then I have them begin using the full balanced (sitting) seat.
Woodland Horse Center
16301 New Hampshire Avenue, Silver Spring, MD 20905
301-421-9156          fax: 301-421-9049