In Richard’s early lessons the independent seat was one of those things that he was told he should aim for.

To start with he wasn’t sure what he was trying to achieve and how to improve as the descriptions he was being given were difficult to understand and relay to what he had to do on his horse, but with the help of his local riding instructor who gave him a very simple exercise to practice he soon turned the corner.

Richard continues: 
Rich 4 Ind seat

The first problem I had with the term “Independent Seat” was the description I was given, it seemed to be all about moving with the horse and having an improved posture and seat, ensuring you are not totally independent of the horse but still have control.

I wanted to become that more effective rider but was still very confused, so in my own mind I decided that it came down to the old Taoist saying “don’t react to the reaction”, so if your horse does something unexpected don’t then let that cause you to react in a way that then causes the horse to react to your reaction of their reaction….Guess I have confused you all even more! 

 So, before I loose you all totally …. On with the exercise.  

Having an independent seat will improve your balance in trot and help you be better balanced in jumping, especially when the horse makes large unexpected movements.  
Rich 2 ind seat
  • Once you and your horse are nicely warmed up and you have a nice forward going trot you are ready to start. 
  • First step is to trot round the school and every now and then stand for two trot strides rather than the normal one.  
  • Once you have the hang of how this feels then trot round in a constant trot of sit for one stride stand for two.  
The first time I did this I felt very unbalanced, but it is important that you do not hang onto the reins to balance yourself.   If you do feel very unbalanced then simply stop and when the horse is stood still simply practice standing in the stirrups, until you feel you have found your balance, you could also get a friend to lead your horse or put you on a lunge so you can let go of the reins completely and practice the movement with out having to worry about controlling your horse.

 Once you are happy with rising for two strides it is time to move on to part two.
Rich 3 ind seat
  • Again with the help of a friend, ride round the school in trot getting your friend to shout out a random number between 1 and 6, each number represents the amount of strides you must remain risen for. 
  • Try and concentrate on not using your reins to balance yourself as this will interfere with quality of your horse’s trot, which should remain at a constant speed and rhythm.
By practicing this exercise regularly I soon found that my balance, especially when jumping was quickly improved. Even now when I’m trotting out on a hack I often use the sit for one rise for two trot strides just to keep my muscles remembering how to do this.

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