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 instructions.
Seat Aids
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?


Boost your confidence
Acquire knowledge
Build your skills
Enhance your lessons    

Mike Smith's
40 years of
experience        work for

You'll love it!
Woodland Horse Center
16301 New Hampshire Avenue, Silver Spring, MD 20905
301-421-9156          fax: 301-421-9049