So, what is ‘the correct seat’?
International rider, trainer and FEI judge, Judy Harvey explains,
“The rider’s seat remaining in balance over the centre of gravity is critical in effective horsemanship. To achieve this, the rider’s leg has to be underneath their seat. Draw an imaginary line from the ear, shoulder, hip heel. This should be perpendicular to the ground.
An established, still, relaxed, lower leg is critical to staying in balance. For those who find it difficult to achieve this position the symmetry straps are a fantastic training aid, developing the muscle memory to help achieve great riding”. SHOP NOW
Do you have wayward legs?
We all know from our lessons that the correct leg position for a secure effective seat is to have the heel and hip in alignment with the leg relaxed and still, toes pointing forward and heel slightly lower than the toe. The lower leg is therefore in the ideal position to influence the horse’s impulsion, straightness, bend, collection and lateral movement. The very best riders make it look easy but many of us struggle with the position and stillness of our lower leg.
We have outlined some of the more common leg problems – do you identify with any of these?
The ‘Skier’ – the foot pushed too far forward and the heel is forced down. The rider is more likely to be ‘behind the movement of the horse’ and the leg is too far forward to be effective.
The ‘Swinger’ – the lower leg (below the heel) is swinging back and forth like a pendulum. This involuntary movement is more pronounced at canter but will also be seen in rising trot. This ‘swinging leg’ not only looks untidy it also means that the rider will have to use a much stronger leg aid to influence the horse as the horse will be become numb to the constantly moving leg.
The ‘Percher’ – the lower leg is drawn back too far with the heel up. Here the rider is ‘perched’ in the saddle with their upper body weight too far forward. This is a very insecure position and can be particularly seen when riders are jumping. It the horse refuses or ‘stumbles on landing this position means that the rider is likely to fall off to the front.
The ‘Duck’ – the toe points outwards and the heel is in constant contact with the horse’s side. In is more common that riders have one leg where the toe points outwards. It looks untidy, potential dangerous as the turned out foot is more likely to be catch (going to gateways etc) and horses may ignore the aids from this rider.
A simple and effective lower leg training aid can help!
Many riding instructors recommend Symmetry Straps to help riders achieve a better lower leg position. Symmetry Straps secure the stirrup irons to the girth in a safe manner – ensuring that the leg is in the correct position and by restricting the movement preventing the leg from getting out of position or swinging back and forth.
Using Symmetry Straps on a regular basis as part of their training programme riders can develop the muscle memory and muscle strength to keep their legs in the correct position without the straps. They are discreet and designed in such a way that the rider from the saddle can control whether they are fitted or not and how restrictive to make them.