“What are the three things you must have in order to become a good rider?”

1. A good seat.
2. A good seat.
3. A good seat.

This was the mantra of the famous gold medal winning USET Three Day Team coach, Jack Le Goff. He said that the “line” between the relatively few good riders and all the rest was the ability of the good rider’s body to blend with the motion of the horse’s body in such a way as to create the illusion of one body.

© Tamarack Hill Farm

© Tamarack Hill Farm

Another more basic way to say this is, “Good riders don’t bounce.”

Good riders tend to be “shifty” riders—SHIFTY, with an “f”
They can put their bodies “where the horse ain’t” to quote a bronc rider expression.

Uphill, they get forward, downhill they get back, they are ‘counter-balancers’ to the placement of the horse.



Being “fluid” is easier for some riders in a dressage saddle, with long stirrups, but, ideally, you should be equally comfortable sitting in a jumping saddle, with short stirrups.

Many riders spend their entire lives posting at the trot and hovering at the canter, which lets them avoid the concussive effects of the horse’s moving back.

You can get famous, win ribbons, and get your picture on magazine covers doing that, but if you bounce when you sit the gaits, you are not what Le Goff would consider a “good rider”.

© Tamarack Hill Farm

© Tamarack Hill Farm

So if you want to become a good rider, become a rider who doesn’t bounce when the horse actually, like, you know, moves. (It’s pretty easy to avoid bouncing on a horse who is standing still.)

So there it is, boys and girls, in the most direct way possible to express it. Do YOU have an independent seat, which allows you to “body-meld” with your horse, or, if you sit the gaits, do you bounce?

Have you crossed the line into the magic kingdom, or do you stare across that yawning gulf, wishing and hoping, but unwilling to get tough enough to suck it up and go deal? The choice is yours. Nobody else’s, yours alone. Pick one.