After a long show season, you may be bored with riding in the ring and the incessant outside, diagonal, outside, diagonal courses. Most likely your horse is bored of swapping leads and jumping red flowers, and he/she shows said frustration with all sorts of fun rodeo tricks. It’s time for a shake up! Why not ride in the field?
According to George Morris, “The definition of a seat is the ability to stick to the horse no matter what the horse does.”
Very deep and very true, Mr. Morris. One simple way to build your seat is by riding on uneven terrain in the field (I realize all eventers are thinking, “Duh,” at this point, but bear with me).
Riding outside the ring will challenge you and your horse’s ability to balance and maintain a steady pace. Once you master balance and pace on uneven terrain, your ride will be smoother in the ring. In the field, your primary goal is to maintain your own balance so as to not hinder the horse by falling on his/her neck or catching him/her in the mouth.
Find an area in the field that has sloping or uneven terrain. We aren’t looking for cross country banks, just a slight rise and fall in the ground. Walk a simple rectangular pattern around the area, and note the hills and valleys. If your horse tries to trot uphill, don’t let him. Walking up a hill strengthens a horse’s hindquarters more than trotting or cantering uphill.
After walking, go into two point and focus on keeping equal weight in your stirrups, as well as staying on your horse’s centerline. Once comfortable in two point, return to full seat and trot the pattern.
Perform this exercise with simple transitions from the walk to trot and a change of direction. If you feel unbalanced at first, continue the exercise within your comfort zone and slowly work up from there. The more you practice the pattern, the more your horse will get the idea, and your body will begin to maintain its balance.