Counterintuitive Series #4: Please Be Seated

This is the fourth episode in our counterintuitive series – those basic things in our riding that are important to do, but they’re so easy to forget – and easy to think they don’t carry that much weight.

As a quick review, the first topic in our series was about the power of intention and how that sets us up for a positive experience with a clear focus. The second was the amazing impact of keeping our eyes up, and the third was how breathing could transform a ride for the better literally in one breath.

But most often with all these counterintuitive elements, our natural tendency is to do exactly the opposite! That’s the amazing part to me!

Our fourth topic today is all about becoming more connected with your horse through your seat. And just like all of the other counterintuitive topics, I LOVE this one!

Now I’m doing this episode via audio for a reason. It’s because I want you to take the time to tune into your body as you ride, connect to your seat, release tension, and feel the movement of your horse beneath you.

. .


It’s so easy as a thinking human 🙂 to stay in our minds, instead of feeling our horse beneath us moment to moment. We conjure up all sorts of things. We think things like, “I hope he doesn’t spook; there’s so much going on I’m not sure what to do; I never get those stops well; are all those people watching me? I wonder what they think?”

Our minds are busy! And even though we know we’re in the saddle, our focus is really way up high in our brains. Often, we’re not connected to our horse or our own body.

But there is an exercise you can do that is simple. It will connect you to your horse and yourself. It will help you become aware of how your horse moves you via your seat.

Here’s how we’re going to do this. Have fun with this.

Right now, I’m going to take you through three of your horse’s gaits. As I do, I want you to sense the pattern of movement for each one. For example, is the movement of your seat bones in the saddle a circular motion, a back-and-forth motion, or an up and down motion?

Take a deep breath.

Ok. Now take another deep breath – and relax.

Pretend you’re sitting in the saddle on your horse.

Now bring your awareness to your seat – specifically your seat bones.

Now start walking your horse in your mind. Let your horse move you.

What is the motion of your seat bones in the saddle? Circular, back-and-forth, or up-and-down?

Now start trotting. Again, let your horse move you. What is the motion of your seat bones in the saddle? Circular, back, and forth or up and down? Do a nice, slow, easy trot. There you go.

Now begin loping, or cantering. Again, let your horse move you. What is the motion of your seat bones in the saddle? Circular, back, and forth or up and down? Stay relaxed at this gate. Keep your eyes up and breathe – and feel your seat.

Ok, now come back; open your eyes.

How was that?

I’ll be anxious to hear about your experience and what different motions you sensed in those three gaits. And by the way, if you want to describe it differently than the words I used, of course, please feel free to do that.

Now why is this an important exercise to do when you’re on your horse next time?

Well… there are several reasons:

  • It’s super relaxing when you give yourself time to do it without any other agenda.
  • It connects you to your horse through your seat, which is your number one direct physical connection with your horse.
  • It grounds you. In other words, it’s like a soft anchor to your horse and yourself. In these moments, you are one with your horse as you allow him to move you – instead of you asking your horse to do something.

These are just a few of the reasons.

But remember, doing this is counterintuitive as a habit.

It’s just so easy to go get – and stay – busy in our brains.

That’s it for this exercise of becoming more aware of your seat and the motion of your horse.

Don’t forget to leave a comment. What did you experience? How did it feel? Did you like it?

I’m looking forward to hearing from you.

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10 Comments on Counterintuitive Series #4: Please Be Seated

  1. Elaine Bohlin on Sun, 2nd May 2021 2:11 pm
  2. Barb, this exercise was fun, insightful and beneficial. I “chair rode” along with the podcast. it actually took me back to the first time I rode my gelding when I was trying him out to buy. I think when we ride a new horse, we are more ready to tune in to that horse’s rhythms because at that point we have no preconceived notions or agendas.This is good exercise to see your horse and the connection to him/her in a new light.Thank you!

    We had over 4 inches of rain in Dallas and Ellis County while you were away from TX so I am waiting for things to dry out enough to ride!

  3. cheryl on Sun, 2nd May 2021 2:21 pm
  4. Felt like back & forth at the walk, up/down at trot, circular at canter. And very relaxed! Will try this with my horse tomorrow, Thank You! And…is there a right answer?

  5. Karen on Sun, 2nd May 2021 2:38 pm
  6. What a cool exercise!!! Never thought about how my seat and the horse’s motion work. I just do it. It was a very rhythmic exercise and I could feel me riding along with the relaxing horse and leather smell. Thanks. Love this!!

  7. DeAnna Ball on Sun, 2nd May 2021 2:49 pm
  8. I felt the canter was a circular motion, but more like a swished, oblong Ferris wheel, like forward through the saddle, then up and back to the beginning. The walk and slow trot were more side to side. A fast trot was definitely up and down!

  9. Janice on Sun, 2nd May 2021 2:59 pm
  10. I like the idea of doing this exercise on horseback, before I begin riding. I can feel how it would bring relaxation to, both, myself and my horses because it is a tangible moment of time which would help get us calm before we jump into the ride. I feel the walk as a side to side thing and the trot is forward and back. I can only go by video I’ve watched for the canter but I understand it is a scooping movement.

    Thank you, Barbra. This information is invaluable to me.

  11. Judy on Sun, 2nd May 2021 6:30 pm
  12. This is a great exercise! It really shows me how stiff I’m riding and how to practice loosening up.

  13. Lisa Rehberger on Tue, 4th May 2021 12:15 pm
  14. Thank you, as always, for your insight and expertise! Walk=forward and back
    Jog=side to side Trot=up and down Lope=circular
    Btw, I just saw Jenna Bush Hager on Today show honoring a wonderful teacher at a grade school there. That woman worked her way through college to come back and teach after having been and janitor and bus monitor there for years! Wow!

  15. Dawn on Sat, 8th May 2021 12:18 pm
  16. Great exercise and so very important to be truly connected to our horse. Feeling your horse’s gait is practicing being present in the moment. I LOVE this back to basic series Barb! Thank you for reminding us to be with our horse and slow our busy minds down.

  17. Joanne Milton on Mon, 10th May 2021 6:21 pm
  18. often have my students close their eyes while riding to feel this! It is amazing what it does for them!

  19. Gwen on Sun, 16th May 2021 4:31 pm
  20. Just getting caught on this series so I am a bit delayed in my comment. This is an excellent excise that helps one focus on their seat and connect with the horse. Truly enjoyed this. Thank you Barb.

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