Seat and Leg to get the horse on the bit

When horse riders come to me for seat and posture assessments and lessons they expect me to make them use their bodies more, leg more, push more more hold.

As a dressage judge I always wondered why the Rule Book says “light contact”, and “able to move forward from the SLIGHTEST indication of the rider.  And the rider mark describes “the heel must be the lowest part of the rider”, and “invisible aids”, and “without apparent effort” (www.fei.org) when trainers often say “more leg, more seat, more push” which is exactly the opposite to the clearly stated aims in the Rule Book.

So…here’s a photo of my friend Kate McDonnell from South Australia….

I’ll admit it appears that she’s leaning back…but forget that for a minute.   Does it look like she’s using LEG to push the horse forward onto the bit?

Does it look like she’s using a DRIVING SEAT to push the horse forward and onto the bit?

Well if you think that “seat and leg” are the only way to get your horse on the bit…think again…because Kate McDonnell is in a wheelchair.  Injured in a tragic eventing accident, Kate has absolutely no use of her seat & legs in any way.  She is permanently in a wheel chair and is lifted on and off the horse.

When I first met Kate she couldn’t get the horse to go forward…so I taught her how to do it from the hand.  There ARE other ways.  Seat and leg is not the ONLY way.

When you’re starting to think that your way (or your trainer’s way) is the ONLY way…let Kate prove you wrong.

And she sure is fulfilling the Rule Book “invisible aids”, “light contact”, “poll high”.

When we remember that our trainers are HELPERS and not GODS, and it’s not necessarily “their way or the highway”, that it’s the RULE BOOK that is judging us, not the trainer, then we start to really win those Gold Medals.   And my own pupils are the living proof.  I always say “don’t listen to me…I’m only the Engineer…you’re the Pilot…READ THE RULE BOOK”.

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