Dressage Digest: How Far Back Should You Sit?

Belarus' Raman Varanko and Dervish - European Eventing Championships - Photo Libby Law

Canadian dressage rider and 2015 Pan Am team silver medallist Brittany Fraser-Beaulieu has trained her horse All In from five years old to the Grand Prix level. She shares her tips.

If you’re sitting behind the vertical, your coach should be trying to get you to sit up. I think it’s hard to teach people to have a good seat because it’s so based on feel. I find that when people start to lose their balance, that’s when they get behind the vertical because it ends up being a bit easier than sitting straight at the vertical. When you sit on the vertical it uses a lot of abdominal muscles and back strength, so I feel that most riders should do pilates and work their core to be able to sit on the vertical and have a stronger seat. When I was younger, and my coach was coaching me, I was on the longe line for a long time with no stirrups until my seat was very good and in the end I think that really helped me learn to absorb motion whether the horse was very bouncy or not. Learning sitting the trot, if the rider feels comfortable, definitely do it on the longe line with no stirrups and find your balance. When the rider is off balance then the horse is knocked off-balance and then other problems start to occur.

Behind the vertical is too far back. Is it easy to have happen? Yes. Does it happen sometimes? Yes. But you should always try to sit on the vertical, with shoulders above hips.

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