No matter which style of horseback riding we do, our foundation is the seat - the word that describes the rider's lower-body position that permits communication and control with the horse. A good seat, to which every rider aspires, is the result of coordinating one's body with the horse at rest or in motion. And although it is the first thing a rider learns, to perfect the skill often takes many years of study and effort. Although many instruction manuals delve into the subject, until w there has t been a book entirely devoted to developing a seat that is applicable to all styles of riding. In The Seamless Seat , veteran instructor Kathleen Schmitt begins with a discussion of how we create an environment in which we can understand and then build a good seat. She goes on to show how human and equine anatomy interact, developing the platform that is fundamental to a secure seat. How the horse moves at the walk, trot, canter, and gallop, as well as its position at the halt and rein-back and its movement during transitions between gaits - all have a bearing on the rider's form and control. Those elements lead to the various types of seats: the passive, active, resisting, and unilateral, and kwing when each one is appropriate. That in turn leads to the rider's leg and arm positions and the rein and auxiliary aids, all of which become optimally effective when the secure seamless seat has been achieved.
Kathleen Schmitt rode and studied in Europe with, among others, Olympic dressage medalist Reiner Klimke. A certified British Horse Society instructor, she has trained hunter/jumper, Western, and dressage riders. Her articles have appeared in several equestrian publications, including Virginia Horse Journal. She owns and operates her own riding facility in northern Virginia.