One of our main goals as riders is to create a quiet and effective seat, right?
By being able to absorb the horse’s movement, stay in balance, and be supple through the spine, we can achieve this goal. And this is ultimately done through flexibility and strength.
To the naked eye, our “absorbing of the horse’s movement through our body” can look like stillness, but there is actually a lot of movement involved. Let’s consider the sitting trot in order to grasp this suppleness/stillness concept. To achieve a supple “stillness,” our back needs to be able to absorb the movement of the horse. The motion is carried through the vertebra of the spine and that stillness is created by the absorption… not by stiffness or being rigid.
Creating balance in your body is the first step in having a quiet seat on your horse. Any movement or position that is too far forward or back, and too left or right, is going to affect the movement of the horse.
And in order to be in perfect balance and alignment with your horse, you must have a strong core. Your core keeps you balanced. Your core includes the muscles of the front and back of your torso. It is having a strong and stable core that is going to keep you balanced on the horse when the force of movement wants to push you elsewhere.
Lastly, you need to have flexibility in order to absorb the horse’s movement. The flexibility of your joints and absorption through your spine is what allows you to stay in balance with the movement. Any tension through your body will block the correct motion of a quiet seat. And having tension in the wrong muscles affects your ability to absorb movement.
So, we must find the combination of strength (balance, core strength, useful tension/engagement) and relaxation (flexibility, suppleness, the release of unnecessary tension).
Creating a quiet seat requires the strength of your core and the flexibility of your spine. It is finding that sweet spot between strength and relaxation that will help us maintain proper balance. We can call this “supple strength,” and a great way for us to cultivate supple strength is by having a regular Yoga practice.
Yoga can help you move on a daily basis with strength and suppleness for an open chest, shoulders, back, and hips. Consider a yoga practice that incorporates both strength and flexibility to be a part of your riding regime… it could be a very useful tool for your quiet and effective seat!