Since I have been home for the holidays, I haven’t been on C in about a week, but as per usual I am doing a lot of thinking about my position and how it will affect him, so I have more to think about when I get back out there.
Lately I’ve been googling the heck out of using a proper seat depending on the occasion. With C, since we are focusing on flatwork and dressage (I checked my notes and I’ve only jumped him 6 times total since I bought him!), I have been sitting his canter. Thankfully it’s comfortable so I don’t mind so much, plus it’s given me pretty good ‘following’ hips. I do have to check myself sometimes and make sure I’m not driving, leaving C behind my leg and on the forehand.
As such, he sometimes gets a little confused when I two-point, and breaks to the trot. I really don’t think it’ll be an issue cross-country, because he is never lacking in energy out there, but I was curious as to what you fellow jumpers prefer for stadium. A (assistant trainer) has told me and many other students to ‘dressage between the jumps’ which I had always imagined (and executed) to be seated or lightly-seated canter. However, after some research the consensus seemed to be “to approach and depart the jumps in … a light three-point” (source).
But consider the video below of our eventing demigod, Michael Jung from 2010.
I watched it through several times and for much of it he seemed to be sitting as such in dressage, more upright, in a deeper seat than other riders (or what is professed to be ‘the correct way’). Also, William Fox-Pitt in 2014 seemed privy to the same seat, sitting between the jumps. In both, though, I see each rider utilizing three-point in specific situations, namely on turns and longer stretches between the jumps (left) and sitting deeper upon approach (right).
I notice, too, that the horse’s own body and neck seem to reflect the rider’s position– forward and long on the left, and upright and vertical on the right. This makes a lot of sense, all things considered.
It seems common sense to say “fit your riding to the horse” and I do think right now C prefers the security and presence a sitting canter provides (though I don’t pretend to know what goes through his noodle brain). I also think it makes it easier for me to adjust him, and having the steadiness of a swinging canter makes it less confusing to ask for other things, such as bend or better contact.
After watching more videos of Jung and Fox-Pitt, I realized that a deep or three-point seat have their places in stadium. I can see how, where more speed or agility is required, it’s important to get off the horse’s back and allow them to gather themselves in the center (this visual makes sense to me). But on the approach to jumps and between jumps in a line, they seem to prefer seated, perhaps for adjustability and ‘feeling’ the stride.
I know that every seat has its proper place, and I definitely plan on experimenting more and not settling into the comfort I find in a deeper seat. As we know, it’s never a good thing to be complacent in our riding, and I may find the solution to some ongoing problems by riding in a two- or three-point more often, where lightness and speed are required, and also so C gets used to being responsible for his own legs without as much of my assistance.
I’m curious as to what seat you all prefer during your stadium rounds, in what situations, and why. Feel free to comment with thoughts to add to my reading– I’m all ears!