Sit deep in the saddle?

Discussion in '2000 Archive of Posts' started by Daisy, Jul 20, 2000.

  1. Daisy

    Daisy New Member

    I am still not sure about this phrase. Sitting deep in the saddle? I've been having troble with cantering and how to go with the horse. It's always been bumpy when cantering and I can't seem to get it right. They use the phrase "sitting deep" a lot when helping with cantering but I really don't understand what this means. Can someone explain what they mean?
  2. joy_6

    joy_6 New Member

    Sitting deeply in the saddle involves sinking your weight into the saddle. You want to put the weight of your body deep down into the seat of the saddle. One way to help yourself to do this is - and I am sure you have heard this so many times- to put your heels down as far as you can. This helps you to sink your weight down.

    Be patient with yourself with cantering. It took me a very long time to feel that I was sitting right, and even now, I sometimes feel like I am bouncing too much. I found that it is helpful to grip with your inner thighs. Also, my instructor made me canter without stirrups when I couldn't sit it right. He told me that it was easier to feel the rhythym of the horse's movements without stirrups. Although I thought he was just trying to torture me- since he usually does- I found out that he was right. I would try dropping you stirrups- it definately helped me. I now ride without stirrups at least an hour each week.
  3. Mike

    Mike Moderator

    Be carefull with instructions to 'sit deep in the saddle'. What you don't want is to be sitting heavily and bearing down on the horse's back - not only will the horse resent it you'll probably find the canter is very flat and difficult to sustain.

    Many instuctors use this phrase but never tell you how to do it. When the canter is sat to properly it will look as if the rider is glued to the saddle as if sitting 'deep' but it's the movement of the riders lower back that achieves this.

    Have a read through Heather's explanation of sitting to the canter on the Kinder Way to Ride pages - .
  4. Jo

    Jo New Member


    it's very frustrating to be told to sit deep as it is really a poor explanation of how it works. Mike has it right - it's the lower back that allows the correct canter movement - and it's hard to begin with! I have always found gripping up with the thighs a bad move - it raises you out of the saddle and makes you bounce. You have to learn to relax and allow the movement of the horse move your back. Cantering without stirrups helps because you cannot grip up with your legs so easily. Don't get stressed - it's counter-productive and anyway, cantering well takes months (even years) to perfect.

    CLAUDIA New Member

    sitting deep

    I don't know why instructors tell people to sit deeper in the saddle. My instructor always tells me, "get down in your leg!" Then she asks me what I'm thinking about when she tells me to do that.

    I definitely think cantering without stirrups is a good method when trying to find the rhythm of the horse, but don't do it if you're not balanced. You also have to trust your horse. If there's a school horse you can ride that will stick to the rail like glue while keeping a nice, even canter it will be very easy for you to learn how to sit. But it will take time. At first you'll probably only feel it for a few strides at a time, so don't work too hard; you'll only get frustrated. Another thing to be sure of is that you're riding in a saddle that fits you properly.

    While you're cantering around the ring think of kneeling down onto your knees, but keep your legs long and wrapped around the horse's sides as best you can. Gripping with your thighs is kind of the opposite of what to do to "sit deep". Instead, roll your thighs in a little, and let the horse's body move them (keep relaxed). Plus, your hips and back will move with the horse better if you're not tense. It also helps if you're not trying to hold the horse's head up, so remember to stay with his mouth, giving and taking gently, like your thumbs are attached to the corners of his mouth. You know, you would probably benefit from a lunge lesson. This way you wouldn't have to worry about steering, regulating the pace, keeping the horse moving, etc. Ask your instructor what he thinks. :)

    Hope I've helped a little!

  6. Chloe

    Chloe New Member

    I agree that work without stirrups certainly helps to gain a 'deeper seat'. I do a lot of showing at a high level where i enter eqitation classes. At a high level you have to do your complete show without stirrups, and also gallop as a ride without stirrups. My SHP has a very bouncy canter and gallop so i needed to 'deepen' my seat. My trainer made me practice by making me ride on the lunge without my stirrups and reins, with my head tilted back looking up at the roof (or sky if outdoor!!). This made me centre my weight into my bottom, which really helped. Give it a go, it really does work!
  7. Heather

    Heather New Member

    Mike's reply is spot on. 'Sitting deep' is not at all about sitting heavily, sinking your weight into the saddle. In canter, for a horse's back to be able to function correctly, it has to be able to lift under the rider, so that each step should feel like a little jump. The horse should be able to raise his forehand and jump from behind. now if the rider is sitting o his back like a lunp of lead, this will not be able to happen. The horse will go on his forehand and hollow, which will flip the rider up and out of the saddle, making the movement difficult to sit to. On a correctly trained horse with a colected canter, it is the easiest thing in the world to sit to, but it is all about absorption of the movement through flexion of the lower back.(As Mike says, see my pages on Kinder Way to Ride, likewise, canter is clearly shown and demonstrated, right and wrong in my video)). Sitting deep means spreading your body weight aroudn the whole sides of the horse, so that the lower leg is in quiet contact all of the time with the sides, 'clinging like a wet cloth, but not gripping' as the Germans term it.

    If I were to place my hand under my seat in canter, there would be hardly any weight on it, and yet my seat is glued to the saddle.

    If you were a horse, how would you feel if a hundredweight or more were pushing down into, and often bruising your tender back, stride after stride? It is not your fault as riders, it is what you are being taught.

    This sort of riding causes so many back injuries in the horse, thankfully at last being recognised by the veterinary profession. It is thanks to one of our members, Vet_David, that I am being able to lecture at Cambridge School of Veterinary Medicine at Cambridge University in October, great chance to get more vets on our side.


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