Horse Riding Lessons Blog

Understanding the Aids – Part 1: The Seat

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The ‘aids’ are the way we influence our horse when riding and there are two categories: natural and artificial.

The natural aids are the rider’s seat, legs and hands, which are the basic ‘tools’ taught in horse riding lessons for beginners. The artificial aids include whips and spurs.

The Seat

The weight you place on your seat bones determines how the horse moves.

(a) Weight on both seat bones

Together with the leg aids this creates impulsion in your horse and brings his hind legs further underneath him. You place equal pressure on both seat bones by ‘growing tall’ in the saddle – stretching your upper body upwards.

If you tighten your belly muscles and round your upper back slightly your seat will drive your horse forwards (in conjunction with using your lower legs). Don’t lean backwards or grip with your knees and thighs.

The variation of this seat used to ‘collect’ the horse in more advanced riding doesn’t apply in horse riding lessons for beginners.

(b) Weight on one seat bone

When you place more weight on one seat bone, the horse naturally wants to move in the direction of the heavier weight. For example, weight on the left seat bone will move the horse to the left.

Be careful not to lean your upper body inwards, as your seat weight will be pushed outside instead. Your inside hip will ‘collapse’ and you’ll grip with your inside leg.

Avoid this by pushing down on the inside stirrup and placing your inside hip a fraction forwards.

(c) Easing of seat bone weight

This is used in the early training of a young horse, and when riding on rough terrain to allow the horse to use his back without cumbrance.

To ease the seat bone weight, transfer the pressure from your seat bones equally onto both thighs and into the stirrups, with your seat still in the saddle.

During your riding lessons, get a feel for how your seat position affects the horse. You’ll become conscious of the strong influence it has, which will make you a quieter rider and more aware of how you use this important aid.