Charlotte Dujardin, dressage, engaged seat, equicube

My Kingdom for a Good Seat

For an equestrian, a good seat and hands are two of the most difficult and elusive pursuits of the sport. It’s one of the reasons why riding is a lifelong pursuit.

Fantasy hour: me and Charlotte Dujardin (world's best seat) riding in the same universe. Photos by Andrew Martin

Fantasy hour: me and Charlotte Dujardin (world’s best seat) riding in the same universe. Photos by Andrew Martin

Regarding my seat, my trainer had me return to the use of the Evil Dread Equicube this week. This is actually a fantastic and effective product but it does make you feel completely inept as you adjust to using it.
I hadn’t used the Equicube for several months, so picking it up again felt awkward and foreign. I had a heck of a time turning to the left. The Equicube forces you to use your legs and body to turn — as opposed to flailing about with your arms. Rather than squawk at me about my position, my trainer simply handed me the cube. Uh, oh.
Within minutes, I could feel how much I’d been moving my arms and shoulders.The weight of the cube forces you to bring your elbows in to your sides while using your core to stabilize yourself. I was also reminded to sit back on my bum and connect my shoulders together. The benefits are many and prompt.
The cube (and my trainer) helped me to identify my evil dread position errors and move toward correcting them. In my case, canter work to the left is the demon that haunts me. This week I learned that my left leg slides forward in the left lead canter, throwing off my position, my effectiveness, and my horse. I’m trying to balance frustration (aagghhh) and determination.
We did make progress this week and I was cheered by a surprise compliment today, when my friend Nichole uttered these magic words: “You have a really good seat. You look like you’re glued into the saddle.”
These words melt my heart. If I was going to get a tattoo, this would be the phrase I would choose. I keep playing these words over in my mind and letting a warm glow (not unlike the effect of a shot of tequila) encompass me.
If my friend watched my riding more closely, she’d see those fall-apart moments when my riding starts to come undone — since there is still much work to be done. Still, I’m going to cherish this compliment and use it to inspire and encourage myself to do better.
Be sure to look over your own progress and give yourself an atta boy for the good work you’ve done. While you’re at it, give support and encouragement to the people you ride with. Just as horses respond to a kind word, so do we. (And, if you get the chance to try an Equicube, do it!)