Hunt Seat Equitation med Manuela Witt

Söker du en klass som verkligen utmanar dig som ryttare och samtidigt ställer höga krav på samarbetet  med din häst? I sådana fall kan Hunt Seat Equitation vara något för dig! Vi intervjuade Manuela Witt för att lära oss mer om vad denna klass går ut på och varför den är en stor utmaning.

1. What are the judges looking for in this class?

The purpose is to evaluate the ability of the hunter rider to perform various maneuvers on his/her horse which provides a base for natural progression to over fence classes. The communication between horse and rider through subtle cues and aids should not be obvious. Equitation is judged on the rider an his/her effect on the horse.The judges are looking for a rider with a good balance seat, a good focus to plan and manage the pattern.

The idea of the class is to prepare the rider for jumping, for example by having a two-point position and hand gallop in the pattern. You have to be safe in order to jump and the same applies for this class. Keep your rains short enough to keep connection between you and your horse’s mouth, keep your stirrups short enough to be able to get into the standing position.

2. Are there any differences between the balance points in the English saddle compared to the western saddle?

Hmmm, I don’t think so. I think the biggest difference is that you are closer to the horse in an English saddle. There is not so much leather between you and your horse. The thinner English stirrup leather allow you to have a much freer leg and the rider has to learn to control that leg on the horse.

The Western saddle is made to give you more support – it’s easier for a rider in the Western saddle, I think.

The balance points should be the same it will just be more difficult in an English saddle.The hunt seat equitation also requires more forward motions than the Western Disciplines since the class is a preparation for jumping and you also have to manage several different positions in the saddle such as: posting trot and two-point position.

3. What exercises can I do to improve my seat?

Working out besides riding is really important. You can do many different kinds of training: Pilates, trampoline, yoga and Tai Chi to strengthen your core. For fitness exercises I also recommend sit-ups, push-ups and leg exercises.

Riding without stirrups is a great exercise and of course practice; everyone can get good with practice!


Manuela Witt

4. How can I learn to get the right diagonal?

You need to know where the feet from your horses are and when they leave the ground.

Exampel of a Learning  Exercise:

When your left hip lifts up the horses left hind foot leaves the ground and when your left hip comes down the left front foot of the horse leaves the ground. You can practice that in the walk and trot.

In Trot we have a two beat in the diagonal of the horse: left hind, right front and the opposite.

In this case you have two options as an example.

Nr. 1) when you left hip comes up you need to stand up to be on the right diagonal.

Nr. 2.) when your right hip comes down you stand up to be on the right diagonal – feel what works best for you.

Make sure your learn by feeling and not by looking. Sometimes it’s very helpful to have a friend or a family member to help you to get the right feel and the right timing. And don’t give up!

5. How can I make smooth transitions?

First it’s your intention, then your body/voice and then your cues.

For example:

My intention is to trot, then I think “we trot,” then I will use my voice, my seat, my upper leg, my lower leg and than my spur. That all works with the flow of the horse.

Make sure you know what you want.

For my downward transitions I think ”we walk”, then I use my seat (make sure you keep your leg on your horse) if my horse is not ready to listen only to my seat I use my reins to bring him back to my seat. You are the Pilot.

Don’t forget to use your forward motion, don’t quit riding for your downward transitions and prepare you and your horse for your transitions, always think –  ”we walk, we trot, we canter…”

Make sure your horse is soft on your leg and soft in the bridle to make smooth transition.

Do your homework with lots of different exercises like walk, trot, halt, leg yeld, shoulder and hip control, circles and straight lines. Be creative and have fun when you practice. There are so many exercises out there. You will see and feel that once your horse is soft to your cues, your transitions will be a peace of cake.

6. What may happen to my seat when I become nervous and how can I handle it?

Very often the first thing that happens is that you stop breathing, this makes the body stiff which means that you are no longer giving your horse the right information – your horse will be lost and think where is my rider, where is my information, what should I do?

If the horse won’t get no information from you than he will decide on his own what to do and very often we don’t like what they decide.

Everybody will be nervous – I am still nervous when I show but I think the challenge is to learn how to handle it. I always think, my horse didn’t decide to be here I put him in this situation. It’s my job to show him what I want from him – so he will be safe and able trust me. That’s your Job as a good Horseman/woman

So, make sure to BREATH!  That’s Nr. 1 Rule! It will make both your body and your horse softer.

7. How should I dress when I show in this class?

Very conservative! No bling, bling. The tradition is to use colors that you can find in the nature. Your jewelry and make up should be conservative as well. Gloves are not a must but will complete the finish look.

8. How long may the English spurs be?

2.5 cm, I use to think that they may be as long as the top of the little finger.

9. What does it take to show in this class?

You have to like it. It really challenges your seat with all the different seat positions and patterns. All Pattern classes are difficult for horses and riders but that makes it so interesting, right?

In this class you have to give your horse a lot of information in a very short time and your horse needs to be able to handle all that information and pressure. Make sure your horse is physical and mentally ready for it.

As a rider you need to be organized and have a good connection with your horse. You need to have timing, balance and a good eye for your pattern. It is also important to have a plan for your pattern without being ahead of your horse. That is why preparation is really important as well as a good attitude.

10. What differences are there between W. Horsemanship and Hunt Seat Equitation?

Hunt Seat Equitation is a classic form of English riding. W. Horsemanship is a traditional western discipline. Booth of these classes are Pattern Classes which needs a proper leg of the rider, with weight in the heels and soft hands. It is important to have a good posture, a balanced seat and to keep your eyes up. The classes are all about an independent seat and finesse in the communication with the horse during the pattern!


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