How to Massively Improve Your Riding Seat Now

I don’t want to fall off my horse. It is undignified. And potentially painful. Plus, at my age, I am likely to pee myself on impact. Therefore, I said to myself, “Ellie, it is time to improve your riding seat.” I want to share my short journey from being a “Wibbly Wobbly Woman” to a “Woman with Poise and Dignity”.

Over the years, I have made it my mission to stick to that old horsey adage: “Always keep your horse between you and the ground!” Mostly, it worked. But I had two nasty accidents in quick succession that resulted in a loss of confidence. I got the confidence back. But before I did, I seemed to have developed some pretty odd riding habits.

Being a bit of a goal-setter, I would like to try my hand at riding a 1m10 class in an international show. Something like Oliva on the Mediterranean Equestrian Tour in Spain. If this is going to happen, I need to do something about the following faults:

  • my wobbly lower leg
  • my tendency to lean too far forward over jumps, and
  • my inability to sit back up after the jump, which means I am leaning even further forwards by the time the next jump arrives

In my last Amateur 2 class (1m05)…

…how I was not sitting on his ears by the end of the course is anyone’s guess! Thankfully, Lotus is a point-and-press sort of horse.

Then my wonderful coach buggered off to live in Belgium so she could play with lots of lovely Belgian Warmbloods in posh surroundings, with access to riding on the beach. And reunite with her high-achieving, show-jumping daughters.

How inconsiderate! Who will help me improve my riding seat now?

Google. And Facebook.

There are loads of articles on how to improve your riding seat. And millions of videos on YouTube too. So I subscribed to anything and everything to soak up all the free training I could.

Too much information is not necessarily a good thing. I am easily confused these days. My menopausal brain is more walnut and less sponge.

The Universe WILL Provide

Improve your riding seat
Lotus and I are working on keeping that lower leg still. Can you see it move?

Then this random woman kept appearing in my Facebook newsfeed. The same woman again kept popping up on YouTube. I know it was those mystical algorithms and not magic.

It was as if the universe was pushing me toward this lady who has worked around the world with horses and who does online coaching courses. Online!! Yes! How amazing is that? Like having a coach who lives in your laptop or phone.

I wonder if you can have boyfriends like that. Just shove them in a cupboard until you need them next.

I thought no point in wanting something if you will not get off your arse and go for it. And your arse is quite instrumental in improving your riding seat.

You can’t ride without a bum!

Remember doing this as a kid?
Touching Toes on Toto the Fat Unicorn

Improve Your Riding Seat With Yoga

With my newfound focus, I started work in earnest to improve my seat through a series of on-horse yoga exercises.

Some of the exercises help you find your seat bones and to ride with a deeper seat that moves with your horse and others work on your flexibility and balance. They are great fun. And slightly bonkers since it was like being a kid again.

In theory, you are supposed to do these exercises on the lunge with a responsible person looking out for your safety. I just bunged a load of jumps and string in a circle, forming a makeshift round pen in a field, and hoped the sheep would not join in too often.

How many of you remember such exercises as Around-the-World and Touching your Toes from when you learnt to ride as a kid? Well, that was the sort of stuff I was doing. I am inordinately proud that I can lift one leg like a peeing dog, bend over to touch my toes, and ride a horse at the same time.

Multi-tasking queen!

Toto can do yoga too
He looks a bit wrinkly, though

The first time I heard of Horsey Yoga I had an image of a yoga mat rolled out on top of a bloody great carthorse that was being led around by a very zen person while you did Wounded Peacock Pose or Formidable Face Pose upon his back. The horse’s back. Not the zen person’s. That would be slightly more tantric.

I found it hilarious that I was basically doing the same stuff we did in Pony Club about 45 years ago but will say it did give a surprisingly good workout.

The morning after my first attempt was like learning to walk all over again. I wasn’t exactly in pain. However, I wasn’t exactly walking properly either. It made me realise that for years I had probably not been using all the correct muscles for riding.

What a numpty!

One exercise was weirdly difficult. The Rising Walk.

The first time I tried it I thought, “This is easy!” Until a friend pointed out that my lower leg was swinging merrily away and that I probably wasn’t doing it correctly. I watched myself back on the video. She was not wrong. Chandler Bing from Friends would have said “Her legs flail about as if independent from her body!”

See! I told you I had wibbly wobbly lower legs! This is the fault that I need to work on the most since that is the body part the rest of me is hovering over.

When rising out of the saddle in the walk I was supposed to be using my stomach and upper thigh muscles and my lower leg should remain steady and in contact with the horse’s sides. We are not performing The Lord of the Dance! My feet do not need to be above my ankles.

However, when I wrapped my lower calf/upper heel around Lotus to stabilise my lower leg I found it more difficult to rise. It actually felt like I was trying to do some sort of odd ballet maneuver and the inconsiderate ballet teacher had poked a horse between my legs.

I suspect because my lower legs have been naughty for so long it is going to take time to get used to making them behave responsibly.

It is important to have a stable lower leg to support you. Two of them if possible.

Pendulum legs are a no-no!

I am fine in jump seat where you are supposed to lean forwards a little. Then my lower leg appears to be rock solid and in the correct place. But any pose or task that requires standing completely upright was exceedingly difficult for me. It is much easier to do so in the trot and canter where momentum keeps you upright.

I Have Never Been so Proud of Standing up

Standing to Improve my Riding Seat
Standing Up to Improve My Sitting Down

I also worked through some exercises that improve your riding seat by stretching your hips and loosening your thighs. Supple thighs help to wrap your legs around the barrel of your horse while maintaining soft knees.

Grippy knees are naughty knees.

One exercise was especially good for helping to find your seat bones. Simply bring both knees up at the same time so they are level with the withers. You will immediately feel your seat bones make contact with your saddle.

Knowing where those bones are means you will be sitting on the correct part of your undercarriage.

Loads of riders sit on their crotch. Anyone who has ridden for miles with thick denim jeans on will know that that is a recipe for a blistered clitoris. It also means you are tipped forwards and are no longer in a secure position.

I tended to be more the other way. Not so much sitting on my crotch but sitting on my bum cheeks. I suppose I developed the habit as all my horses are very forward going. If I slump they slow; if I perk up my seat by sitting more upright they match the energy and speed up.

But this zen way of riding meant that if I was not careful I would also slump into a chair seat.

I had a great time playing with the on-horse yoga exercises. I am not sure if they will become an integral part of my riding routine forever and ever but they certainly did make me far more aware of my riding position and what I needed to work on.

My next goal is to incorporate Hyperbolic Stretching into my morning regimen. I already spend about 20 minutes most mornings convincing this elderly form that it will remain youthful and flexy-bendy and feel that Hyperbolic workouts will fit nicely into this routine.

So watch this space for an article on that subject.

If you enjoyed this article then please leave a comment and share on social media.

Thank you.

15 thoughts on “How to Massively Improve Your Riding Seat Now”

  1. Brilliant and very inspiring post… I went straight out and did round the world for fun . KK’s online course looks fantastic. I love how accessible good trainers are becoming now through online platforms.. A game changer for riders with less time /money/transport. Love the interview

    1. Thank you, Ruth. That means a lot. I am really enjoying the course. And Krystal is not just a riding coach either. She has fabulous modules on mindset, goal-setting, yoga, horsemanship, and so much more! It is like I have found myself a lifestyle coach for horsey people!

      1. Ellie-I feel the same way. She really is a lifestyle coach. And she doesn’t miss a thing in the videos. I love being in the VIP group and am glad to have you as my accountability partner. Loved the article

  2. Such a great article! It is really interesting to read about the course and what you have achieved so far. I have no idea what Batman has to do with anything though … unless you are going to be riding around with a mask and a cape on!! 🙂

    1. Thanks, Jo. I am glad you enjoyed the article. I am not going to tell you about Batman because I am thinking of writing a little “freebie” ebook for the best guesses. I am learning about marketing techniques to encourage people to read your blog and giving away stuff is supposed to work. So go on, take a guess. And if you win you will be sent a book that I will forget to write until next year and will no longer make any sense lol

  3. Great article and hilariously accurate for me! I too should be a bobblehead on someone’s dashboard! I’m doing KK’s audio lessons and love them. I’ve improved more in the few short weeks than I did paying for lessons for the past year. I’ll have to look into sticky butt training.

    1. Hey there, Kim! Thank you. So, you are my long-lost Bobblehead sister, then. I also love the audio lessons. Did you do the Perfect Warm-Up with Red Light, Green Light? My poor horse. I deliberately missed out a few so as not to embarrass him. Poor bloke. Well, that is my story and I am sticking to it. Talking of Sticky Butt, here is the link to Krystal’s calender just in case you decide to have a go. And if you do, please come back and share your experiences with us.

    2. Kim you are now one of us. I can’t believe how this course is changing my life. Not just my riding but it affects all areas of my life. Health, mental attitude, self esteem, gratitude. The whole enchilada as we say here in the southwest

    1. Hi there, Grace! Always an honour to be complimented by such a fabulous published author as yourself. If you need to improve your riding why not try the Sticky Butt Method™? You can do it all online. It will be fun. Go on! I dare you. LOL

  4. I only just read it and loved it! What a great reminder for us all and I will be building round the world, scissors and half scissors into my warm up routine. Riding with arms out stretched and feeling where those seat nines really are. Now to look up the rest of your useful and entertaining stuff! Marvellous!

    1. Hi there Jayne! Thank you so much for your lovely comment I hope you enjoyed the other articles too. I am going to try my hand at jumping with my arms outstretched or on my head next so keep an eye out for that video, it promises to be a hoot

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