Many instructors consider Arabians too "hot," or on the fast and frisky side, for use as school
horses. Watergate is unusual, however. He's especially well behaved and calm, and he knows the
class routine better than most instructors. He's a star among school horses.
Although on the smallish side, in the field he's definitely a herd leader. (He's one of the horses that
terrorizes Tiki). Another horse had better not try to eat his pile of hay.
Under saddle, Watergate moves forward easily, but he demands that riders give him very clear
Despite the risk of information overload in this lesson, let me add the three basic seat positions to
the list of aids:
Very light (restrictive) seat -- you arch your lower back slightly, with
your hips forward.
Normal seat -- your hips are straight up and down.
Driving seat -- you roll back the top part of your hips, or your pelvis,
as if you were trying to sit on your back pants pockets. You drive the
horse forward with your seat.
A very light seat will tend to make your horse's stride short and choppy. A very driving seat will tend
to make your horse move long and low.
Just to make your life a bit more complex, which seat bone you sit on also matters. Horses move
away from pressure and weight. (Well, most do.) So if you sit on your left seat bone with a very
driving seat, the horse should move to the right in a long, low fashion. Conversely, if you maintain a
very light, or restrictive, seat while sitting on your right seat bone, your horse would move to the left,
but with a shortened, choppier gait.
When I was first learning to ride, I had some of the best instructors that money could buy -- the Army
paid for them -- and I just didn't believe all this stuff about how your seat worked. Using your legs
and your reins was easy to understand, but I just wasn't convinced the horse could feel what I did
with my seat bones. Even when my instructors were able to make my horse do things I couldn't. I
was convinced they had some sort of magic pill. But as I took more and more lessons, I learned that
what I did with my seat really did matter, even with untrained horses.
So think a bit more about the effect of your seat. A horse weighs an average of 1,000 pounds and
you weigh -- I'll give you a break here -- say, 100 pounds. The ratio is 10 to 1. If you carry a
10-pound knapsack around for an hour, you'll find during your hike that if the pack is heavier on
one side than the other, you'll change your position to distribute the weight more evenly. If it's true
for you, why not for a horse with a rider on his back?
|Woodland Horse Center
16301 New Hampshire Avenue, Silver Spring, MD 20905
301-421-9156 fax: 301-421-9049