how to sit in a saddle, properly.


Buyer of treats
Nov 25, 2006
Ayrshire, Scotland
very very basic queston, but as Im riding my Dads horse and due to family commitments I cant get regular lessons, heck I cant even make a doctors appointment and know if i can keep it or not!

I got a realy good tip from niki, which I cant repeate in here as it is for adults only... makes me laugh too...

I have gotten better by sitting back, tall and 'opening up all my internal organs to the wind' so that Im not haunched up, but what are my legs doing???

Connies stablemate, who my dad rides when we go out, is recovering from hock problems, and is a bit sore and stiff (though vet says hes ok for light work, poor baby) and he is prone to spooking. Once he starts, Connie copies and I know Im not sitting right as my knees hurt like mad afterwards.

So, please a rough guide to a good 'seat', and gripping when needed.



New Member
May 8, 2002
Ok, your shoulder, hip and heel should all be in alignment. To get this, do as your friend says and sit back, opening up your organs. With your legs, first of all, make sure your stirrups aren't too long or too short, and let your legs hang loose to the side. This is hard to explain, but I kind of then bend my knees and hips up again so you can get your toes in the stirrups, but don't bring your legs forward, otherwise you will be bracing against the stirrups, causing your lower leg to shoot forwards and loose the contact with the horse.

You don't need to grip, infact gripping is the worst thing you can go as you get all tense. When you ask for your horse to move forward, the movement should come from your hip, and not from "kicking" or raising your heel so it makes contact.

I'm sorry, I'm not very good at explaining this, but as this is my big focus at the moment, it is getting drummed into me!! Can you get someone to video you, or even photos so that you can self-critique, or even better post them on here for someone knowledgeable to have a look at.

Otherwise, I was given a link a number of years ago by a member on here which I find very useful in explaining the correct leg position (although its actually a pilates article!) Two ticks and I'll find it....


Buyer of treats
Nov 25, 2006
Ayrshire, Scotland
Thank you!

That is a great help, I rembered the shoulder/hip/heel thing from lessons when I was a kid, but feel like I am standing in the stirrups!

Been reading through a few posts on here and I think I will have to spend some time working on balance, with.... eeekkkk.... no stirrups!

Pilates? I can do pilates...


New Member
Aug 8, 2006
Austin, TX
One good exercise to help with balance and seat is while at a walk, with no stirrups, kick one leg forward and the other one backward as far as they can go. Don't actually kick, slowly swing and stretch each leg in the opposite direction, being careful not to get your horse! Then switch legs. Do it for as long as you can - it will really work your hips and get them nice and loose.

Also, for correct position of my lower leg, my instructor once told me that my lower leg should be on the horse's barrel, feeling its warmth. For whatever reason, that helped me get the propoer alignment, once I tried to use the horse to keep my legs warm in winter!


Dressage Wannabe
Aug 12, 2006
South Hampshire, UK
A excercise to teach you correct leg positon and balance that you can do on your own.

Try it at halt to start with - stand up in the stirrups without hanging on or falling back into the saddle or off the front. When you can balance easily sit gently back into the saddle without moving your legs. When you have got it in halt do the same in walk and trot.

It's not as easy as it sounds to start with and you might have to hold on to a neckstrap or the horse's mane to start with.

Another pointer for the correct position of your upper body is think about your tummy. Do you have folds in the skin? If so you are sitting with your spine curved forward, so you need to straighten your spine and bring your shoulders back and down. Is it poking out like you've had too much lunch? Then your back is hollow and you need to sit back on your seat bones a bit more. Your pelvis needs to be in nutrual position in the saddle.

I hope you find these ideas useful
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