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 shock.
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.
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