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First Posted: Feb 21, 2012
Feb 21, 2012

Hunt Seat, Forward Seat or Jumping Position

"Hunt seat is terminology used in the United States and Canada to refer to a style of forward seat riding commonly found at American horse shows. Along with Dressage, it is one of the two classic forms of English riding. The Hunt seat is based on the tradition of fox hunting. Hunt seat competition in North America includes both flat and over fences for show hunters, which judge the horse's movement and form, and equitation classes, which judge the rider's ability both on the flat and over fences. Hunt seat is also the generic term used to describe any form of forward seat riding, including that seen in show jumping and eventing.

Hunt seat is an extremely popular form of riding in the United States, headed under the USHJA (United States Hunter/Jumper Association) and the United States Equestrian Federation . It is also popular in Canada. While hunt seat showing is not an Olympic discipline, many show jumping competitors began by riding in the hunter divisions before moving into the jumper divisions.

Rider Position

One style of hunt seat saddle, an 'eventing' saddle. It is heavier and has a deeper seat than the 'close contact' style of hunt seat saddle. The Hunt seat is also sometimes called the 'forward seat.' Ideally, a hunt seat rider has a very secure position. This includes proper leg position, weight in heels, soft hands, good posture, balanced seat, eyes up and, when working over fences, looking ahead towards the next fence.

Eventing Saddle: Image: WikiCommons
One style of hunt seat saddle, an "eventing" saddle. It is heavier and has a deeper seat than the "close contact" style of hunt seat saddle.

Image: WikiCommons
The jumping seat, with the knees, shoulders, and head in front of the perpendicular line made by the stirrup leather, and the hips behind it, keeping the rider balanced over a horse's center of gravity and off the back.

Riders usually employ a two-point position while jumping fences, depending on the type of course and height of fences. The position is so named because the rider has 'two points' (both legs) in contact with the saddle. The rider supports his or her body using leg and stirrup, keeping the heels down, closing the hip angle, and lifting the buttocks out of the saddle while keeping the head and shoulders up.

On the flat, or when used on course between jumps, the two-point position allows the horse to have a great deal of freedom of movement because the rider's weight is lifted off its back.

Position in two-point varies according to the task. Hunter riders generally have a very upright two-point, as they usually show on very level footing and at slower speed. Eventers may have a more crouched position, usually with the heel slightly more forward while riding cross-country, to provide more security as they ride over varying terrain at a fast gallop. ..."

The Hunt seat style of riding is derived from the hunt field.


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