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[RC] Anatomy of Chair Seat and Leonard's Input - Lisa Jordan

A friend, who is also a professional dressage trainer, responded personally to my post on Men vs Women and Chair seat.? She gave me permission to post her reply as I thought it was good information to add to this discussion.? She wrote this from her training perspective - and was addressing my earlier post (yes- I'm reiterating this point).? After she wrote this, she read Leonard's latest on how FEI riders manage the long-term canter/gallop and much appreciated the information as riding a fast 100 is like nothing else one trains for with horses.? This discussion is really a fascinating one as, although some have likely studied the equine and human biomechanics when running 100 miles for training purposes, there hasn't been any published research done as there has been in dressage and jumping to look at the number of very interesting aspects (if I'm wrong about this, please tell me).

Emily's Input:

Chair seat doesn't really have much to do with male and female, so much as it has to do with good and bad riding. ?For a dressage rider, there's a purpose to practicing in proper position. ?The positioning of the torso, thigh, and lower legs is done so in a specific way in order to (very?efficiently) achieve the best balance as a rider on a moving horse. ?The adjusting should be focused at the joints (hip, knee, ankle) rather than focusing on the levers themselves (femur, tibia, spine). ?Think of standing on a trampoline. ?Lock your joints, then have someone start jumping. ?It's just a matter of time until you tip over. ?Repeat with slight bend in the hip, knee, and ankle. ?Your body acts as one big shock absorber and can keep your feet in contact with the trampoline. ?This is how the joints should work in riding, too. ?

To get into chair seat
#1 Lengthen stirrups
#2 Lock knees into standing position (or close to)
#3 Attempt to absorb all motion of the horse through the spine (ouch!). ?You might even see the riders elbows flapping away from the torso like wings...this is a desperate attempt to be a shock absorber because the bigger joints are locked down and aren't working for them. ?As the horse canters, the rider will make a long sweep with their entire body over the saddle. ?Depending on the quality of the horse's natural canter, there will probably be a disuniting on the vertical plane of the stride, as well.
A rider in chair seat is not only urging the horse to go forward with the entire mass of their body, but also to drop onto the forehand. ?There's no ability for the rider to use the hip and thigh to balance/stay with the horse. ?For a truly athletic and well conformed horse, this poor effect of the rider might not matter in the least. ?A short coupled horse can handle a rider with this pattern and still "get by." ?A horse with long front pasterns, too much length in the back, poor hoof angles, or a downhill connection from the back to the wither will break down quickly under a rider with a chair seat pattern. ?There is extra stress on the horse's front legs and loin and eventually the horse will become sore/lame.

Chair seat puts far too much of the rider's weight onto the rider's seat and horse's loin. ?They can restrict the proper motion of the horse's back by being too heavy on the seat and not bearing enough weight through the thigh (esp quads). ?The rider effectively presses the horse's back down, the hind legs are forced to trail and the neck and head come unnaturally high. ?The horse begins to develop "pulling" muscles rather than "pushing" or "carrying" muscles. ?This pattern of riding isn't just a dressage no-no, it's possibly even more important for endurance riders to have good effect of their balance and their horse's balance when traveling 100 miles. ?At the very least, an endurance rider should strive to make themselves easy to carry...

Written by Emily Sorensen