I’m reading George H. Morris’ classic book Hunter Seat Equitation and it made me laugh: “The seat, therefore, not only is a base of support, but it also becomes a center of communication to the horse’s “motor” which is his back and hind legs.”
I have British heritage, raised on Benny Hill re-runs, so it makes it difficult not to giggle at unusual times.
It’s hard to take this good information seriously when I’ve quickly developed some startlingly funny visual images of maybe getting the word “whoa” tattooed somewhere...
However the thought of using your seat does open up a whole new world of communication beyond the usual sight and sound.
I use one of those pilates exercise balls to get the feel of how your butt - your weight - affects the horse. It’s really handy when you wonder why your horse is backing up, for example, and you suddenly realize, it’s because your seat is telling him to back up. When you’ve got a live horse under you and you’re heading in a direction you don’t want to go it’s really hard to think quite as clearly about such things, but it all becomes clear when you’re sitting on a large pink ball in the livingroom.
I started doing pilates a few months ago to improve my core strength, which involves strengthening the deepest muscles closest to the skeleton. When these muscles aren’t working properly to keep the body aligned, the more superficial muscles have to compensate and can end up in a knot. I also use the exercise ball as a desk chair to tighten the abs and improve my posture but it’s become a great riding tool as well, helping to get the ‘feel’ of using my seat.
I think George Morris would approve.