Equitation- why bother?

Equitation- Why bother?

Equitation is how you sit on a horse, your position as you ride at any gait or over any obstacle.  As a young rider, I cared a lot about my position on a horse.  I rode in the Hunter ring and competed in Equitation classes where we were judged entirely on our position.  I knew how you sat on a horse was important, but I thought it was important for the wrong reasons.   It’s not your ability to push your heels down, or arch your back.  Equitation is about how you SIT on a horse and it is crucial.  It isn’t crucial in the way I used to think it was -as in what other people thought looked good or pretty.  It is crucial because it matters to the horse.

The more I ride and the more I teach, the more I realize that how you sit matters because of “pressure”.  You know, “pressure” that thing we put on a horse through our body, our aides, our voice, etc.   That thing we put on a horse when we want it to do something.  Think of it from the horse’s perspective.  If the rider has developed his seat enough that he can ride without ever unintentionally putting pressure on the horse, then he must feel great for a horse to carry.  Also,  if the rider can ride without pressure, no gripping, pulling, leaning, etc. then when the rider does put on pressure it is a more distinct cue to the horse.  Pressure from a rider with an independent seat and good equitation is a clearer aid.  The horse does not have to decipher what to attend to.   A rider with good Equitation and an independent seat is not kicking, pulling, squeezing, leaning, or pinching, so his horse is not left trying to decipher which one of those types of pressure was an intentional aid and which one was just the rider trying to keep his balance.

So, enjoy all your rides on the lunge line, in the round pen, and without your stirrups.   I know I will. The pain of developing the independent seat and consequently good equitation is so worth it.  It will develop you physically and mentally to be increasingly in tune with your equine partner, and your horse will love you for it!

Happy Trails!eq

About Amy

Dr. Amy Jane Hayden Oleson is the founder of Salisbury Farms. She is a licensed clinical psychologist and lifelong horse enthusiast. She has combined her passion for working with horses, instructing, and helping others into a unique and versatile community support program. She offers equine assisted activities and classical riding instruction to individuals interested in learning more about horses and themselves.

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