Six Steps to “Sitting” on Your Cutting Horse, by Barbra Schulte
When you’re learning to cut, it’s easy to confuse which seat position you should have… and when. I’ve seen riders who think they are supposed to be “sitting” all the time. Of course, this is not true and would be extremely uncomfortable! Not to mention it wouldn’t work.
So, here’s six ideas to sort out the what, when and where of using your seat:
- Strive to always stay in the middle of your saddle regarding your seat position from side-to-side. I will explain some weight distribution variations in a moment, but you do not want to “hang over the edge” (on purpose) in your saddle. You should also have some space between your bottom and the cantle of the saddle.
- As you walk toward the herd, ride in a natural position that moves with your horse. I’m referring to centered riding alignment. Your shoulders are square over your hip bones which should be square over your ankles.
- The position in (#2) above is the same as you walk through the herd and travel across the pen with a cow. In all of these instances, you are moving forward. For example, when you need to use your feet, your centered alignment and your seat should not be impacted. In fact, the more balanced you are, the less you will use your upper body unconsciously when moving left and right, accelerating, etc.
- When it’s time to stop with a cow, your seat dramatically shifts positions. Your back collapses over your hip bones. This is the feeling of sinking deeper and deeper into the saddle. Melting. Pressing your buckle against your back bone! Sitting on your pockets, etc. Strive to keep your eyes, neck, shoulders, arms, and hands, “soft”. Any stiffness in any part of your upper body reduces your ability to “melt” and “sit” deeply.
- As your horse draws back in preparation to turn, your back stays collapsed. Now is the time, if you so choose, to think about transferring a little more weight to your seat bone closest to the herd. Here’s the same idea stated another way… drop a little weight on the outside of the direction of the turn. This is a “consciousness” of connecting your seat bone to your horse’s anchor hind leg (closest to the herd). This subtle move keeps you balanced and helps your horse stay balanced as he pivots through the turn. Note: This is where you do not want to sit way over on the side of the saddle.
- At the end of the turn, as your horse accelerates on the line, your body naturally goes back into the alignment described above. You don’t have to “do” anything but allow your horse to take your body with him.
[Written by Barbra Schulte & published in Performance Horse Digest, Volume 4, Issue 1.]
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How do you “SIT” on your horse in similar circumstances (or varying disciplines)?
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