Seat Dynamics

This diagram shows the two phases of the hindleg action (illustrated here in walk where it is most clear) and how the rider's seat interacts with these phases of movement.

The first phase (left-hand diagrams) is when the hindleg reaches under the horse's body and lands, and the other phase (right-hand diagrams) is when the hindleg pushes back and stretches out behind the horse's body. In the horse's natural way of moving, this push back is accompanied by a tilting forward of the pelvis (un-tucking), with a dropping (hollowing) of the spine, and a raising of the head.
When the hindleg steps under the horse (first phase) the pelvis is brought into a tucked orientation, and the back is lifted. At this moment, the horse's head will tend to drop.

The top two diagrams show the interaction of the seat with these two stages when the rider is starting from the basis of an 'upright seat', where there is little core engagement. When the hindleg pushes out behind, and the horse's pelvis disengages, this seat provides no resistance, and is drawn into the 'fork seat' position by the powerful forces of the horse's movement.

In this seat dynamic, both horse and rider's backs become hollow during this phase, and the horse will 'come against the bit'. There is little transmission of the energy generated by the hindleg though the horse's body to maintain a longitudinal, postural stretch towards the bit - it is all used up in locomotion.
Because the horse's pelvis has 'un-tucked' in the push-back phase of the stride, it is then compromised in its ability to subsequently reach forwards under the horse's body in the following phase. The result is hindlegs which work out-behind the horse, and cannot generate power and collection.

In the bottom two diagrams, the rider is coming from the basic dynamic of the tucked pelvis. In this position, when the hindleg reaches under, the seat - with a stretching of the lumbar back and lifting of the pubic arch - follows into the accompanying tuck of the horse's pelvis, consolidating it, and allowing the horse to step further underneath his body.
When the hindleg then stretches out, the rider's abdominal muscles engage to RESIST the un-tucking of the seat, and this has the effect of resisting the horse's own disengagement of the pelvis. Both horse's and rider's backs are prevented from hollowing, and the horse is therefore able to maintain longitudinal stretching, and keep softening into the contact.

Clearly, with the engaged seat there is still a change in orientation in both horse and human pelvises between the two phases of the stride, but even the relatively small postural influence of the engaged seat on the horse - resulting in a slight change in the horse's pelvic orientation - has the power to profoundly alter the horse's balance and overall biomechanics, and to generate a significant amount of channeled power.

The postural influence of the engaged rider, therefore, is not by any means a rigid, unyielding influence - it is a dynamic interaction with the horse's movement, but what it PROMOTES is consistency in the horse's ability to lift the back and maintain transmission of power from haunches through to contact.

If you would like a step by step guide to learning how to rider in this way, see 'The Gymnastic Rider' from Happy Horse Training:

Go back to the Dressage Diagrams index page

Return from Seat Dynamics to the Happy Horse Training home page

The pages on HHT are so wide-ranging and interrelated that we strongly recommend you look at the site plan to find other subjects that may interest you.

New! Comments

Anything to say about this page? Leave your comment in the box below.
Share this page:
Enjoy this page? Please pay it forward. Here's how...

Would you prefer to share this page with others by linking to it?

  1. Click on the HTML link code below.
  2. Copy and paste it, adding a note of your own, into your blog, a Web page, forums, a blog comment, your Facebook account, or anywhere that someone would find this page valuable.

New from HHT!

AudioRide is a series of exercises designed to listen to while you ride.

Audio descriptions guide you through each step of developing a balanced, dynamic connection with the horse through your position.

This truly innovative learning tool gives you a whole new way of being guided in your riding, in a calm, clear, step-by-step way.

Free Download! Introductory Exercise: Riding in the Now

Click here for full details

The Gymnastic Rider eBook

Now available exclusively from HHT!

A unique, comprehensive guide to practical rider biomechanics. This professionally produced eBook takes the rider through the process of developing their body in the specific way that brings the horse's movement into harmony and balance, without force and constraint. Click here for full details, and to download the 15-page introduction to the book for free.

Join the Happy Horse Training group on Facebook!

See and share topical info, news and photo's, and take part in lively discussions.

Click here to go to the HHT group (make sure you log into fb first) and then click on the 'join' button at the top of the page.

Join the Whole Horse Newsletter!

HHT's free monthly newsletter giving you wide-ranging and intelligent insights into holistic horsemanship.
Just enter your details below to join.

Enter Your E-mail Address
Enter Your First Name (optional)

Don't worry — your e-mail address is totally secure.
I promise to use it only to send you the whole horse newsletter.

Free bonus on the riding position with all new subscriptions: Ten Top Tips To Instantly Improve Your Connection With Your Horse.

Click here to see back issues of The Whole Horse newsletter

Train Your Horse
The Holistic Way

How To Train A Horse Without Force is a unique guide to training horses through energetic connection and gymnastic training. Part 1 covers everything on the ground, from handling to the lungeing technique that develops strength, straightness and engagement. Comes with a free eBook supplement on Horse Trauma.
Click here for more details.

"As a student of Zen Buddhism for nearly three decades, I've often wondered when someone was going to write the book on Zen and the art of horsemanship, and I think that your emphasis on mindfulness and energy connection gets right at the heart of the matter."

- Prof. Teresa Lloyd, U.S.

Do You Have
A Horse Story
To Share On HHT?

So many people have been through wonderful experiences with horses, whether in training or otherwise. If you've made a change in a horse's life - or one has made a change in yours - tell us about it here.

Learn The Natural Barefoot Trim - The Simple Way

The Simple Seven-Step Natural Trim is a comprehensive step-by-step guide to a cutting-edge barefoot trim. Click here to find out more.

What people say about HHT:

"The riding instruction is outstanding, if instructors in the UK taught this way there would be a lot of happy riders and horses."

"The riding tuition exceeded my hopes and expectations by a long way; giving me an exciting new facet to horsemanship which is lighter. more subtle, more elegant and more meaningful. It is as if a new door has opened bringing more sunlight and air."

"My goodness - what a change has taken place in my riding. I think that I'm starting to sit 'into' the horse rather than on top of him. I felt my horse's movements in a way that has almost never happened before"

Click on Testimonials for more