Panel Expert: Bernie Traurig
Submitted by member: Moyabean
I am a new rider and have a question about the chair seat. I have always read that the correct seat position is the classical ear/shoulder/hip/heel alignment. However, unless I am wrong, it looks like you prefer a rider to be in a chair position. I watched what you said starting at around :19 in this video, and it seems like you prefer the leg to be more forward and not right under a rider’s body.
Am I correct in concluding that you prefer us to be in a more chair-like position? If so, why do you prefer this over the other position? I am VERY confused by this. I have a dressage instructor, a former eventer, who is teaching me the classical alignment and maintains that it should be the goal whether I’m doing dressage or jumping. I also have a hunter/jumper instructor who has kept me in a chair for quite a while now.
I know that, personally, I feel more secure in the classical position and feel I can communicate with my horse better. He also seems to move more freely under me and is much more responsive. My back also seems to hurt less. I also keep my posting rhythm better, as I am more apt to double bounce when my foot is more forward.
Having said that, I know there must be a reason why both you and my hunter/jumper trainer espouse a more forward heel position.
Would you please enlighten me?
Humbly (and confusedly!)
Answer by Bernie
There are many many folks confused about this “alignment” you mention. The topic you watched on YouTube is simply an exercise to fix a riders leg that is habitually too far back and not supporting their upper body at faster gaits as they topple over their knee. It’s a fix only for this issue.
I don’t advocate the “chair seat,” quite opposite actually as I’m a huge advocate of the forward seat in the jumping discipline with a proper leg position. The alignment you speak of, ear, shoulder, hip, heal is more appropriate in the dressage discipline where collected gaits call for a more vertical upper body position and somewhat less heal depth than the jumping sport as the balance is in the seat, not in the stirrups. In the jumping disciplines this alignment is only appropriate perhaps in the halt or backing. In the trot and faster gallops the upper body is inclined forward, thereby making it impossible for this alignment. Even at the walk and normal uncollected canter gaits the upper body is slightly in front of the vertical. Posting trot about 30 degrees inclined forward as in the faster gallops.
I have addressed all this in a video topic called “Range of Motion Exercise with Introduction by George Morris” (see link below). I do think this will clear it up for you!
In addition please watch my topics, “Building Blocks To A Perfect Position” Parts 1-5 where you will find all you need to know about the “Classical Position” for the jumping disciplines.
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As a Horseman, Bernie is renowned for not only his riding talents but for his teaching and coaching gifts. As a competitor, Bernie has represented the United States Equestrian Team both at home and abroad on many occasions and reached the top of the sport in all 3 of the International Equestrian Olympic disciplines: Show Jumping, Dressage, and Eventing.After amassing 60 years worth of training and riding techniques and experiences with thousands of horses, Bernie is driven to give back to the sport that has given him so much fulfillment and success.