What this episode is all about & how it can help you:-
- Understand what balance is when it comes to riding
- Realising that your independent seat requires all your body parts to work independently of each other
- Being relaxed is vital to having an independent seat
- How becoming stronger makes you a more balanced rider
What is an independent seat, and how do you know if you have one in the saddle? We chat about it today, and how you can cultivate a better one in your riding, starting right now.
People think that the independent seat is all about being able to ‘not fall off’ – which in some ways it is, however it is so much more than just that. It means that regardless of what is going on, you can correctly and effectively communicate with your horse. It starts off with balance – which is that, as the horse is moving you are able to make constant micro-adjustments in your body, without really having to think about it. In doing so, you are moving with the horse continuously. This is what we want when we talk about balance on the horse.
Balance is one thing, but the independent seat takes it a step further. It is like the Holy Grail of horse riding – it is the end point, what everybody is after.
Having an independent seat means just that … EVERYTHING is independent! When you use your inside leg, your arm should not be connected and affected by the movement of your leg. Independent means you can move all the parts of your body independently, but in doing so they are actually all working together towards a common goal. That is truly what an independent seat is, and that is what we should be aiming for as riders.
Relaxation is absolutely key when it comes to having an independent seat. A lot of riders will start working on their balance and then when things start going wrong they start to grip up with their inside leg. This is not independent, it is not balanced, and it is certainly not relaxed.
Focus on the relaxation being present in all you do. As soon as you can feel any excess tension, you need to wind it back down, take a step back, and rather work on establishing that feeling of relaxation throughout your body again.
Here are some suggestions of different exercises that you may find helpful. Firstly, I suggest you get a couple of lunge lessons or if this is not possible, I suggest that you get a nice enclosed space and start working either without your stirrups or without your reigns. I find that relaxation is often a mindset issue, and being able to work through that can help build up the relaxation. This will also obviously improve your balance.
Another thing to do is to make up a chute (or a jumping lane – without the jumps), and work through that without your reins or without your stirrups. It is important to recognise that you will have to exercise some common sense here; your situation is unique to you and please make sure you put your overall safety first!
You can also get someone to help you out by leading your horse while you walk without your reins. This will allow you to actually plug in your seat, and notice how you influence the horse through the seat.
Finally, a stronger YOU is a more balanced you!
We can work on our independent seat in the saddle, but we can equally do work out of the saddle as well. Anything that is going to challenge your balance – hiking over uneven terrain, roller skating, skiing, yoga.
The goal is to improve your overall strenght throughout your body and in doing so, setting yourself up to develop that all important independent seat in your riding.
Links mentioned in the episode:-
Links to other content that will support you in developing your independent seat:-