Did you know that many riders put more force onto the horse’s shoulders during collection?


We believe in science based development. We are sharing different scientific studies that prove the importance of a good seat. Since the communication between rider and horse is predominately embodied and depending of the quality of the rider’s seat.

equestrian in the saddle

How do you use your seat when you want your horse to become more collected and to engage his or her hind limbs? A Swedish study performed by researcher Maria Terese Engell showed that when comparing the active seat (active riding posture with the horse ridden in collected trot) with the passive seat (rider passively following the horse’s movements), results showed that most of the riders applied increased pressure on the withers area during active riding and with increased collection of the horse by rotating the chest and pelvis backwards. Thus, the riders centre of force moved onto the shoulder region in the active seat.

This is likely to make it more difficult for the horse to become more collected. Moreover, it is suggested that this could cause cranial pressure under the saddle and thus may cause pressure injuries onto the horse’s back.

How was the study performed?

Seven warm blood dressage horses were ridden by their own riders (elite riders) with reflective markers attached to different places of the riders as well as the horses’ bodies and traced by 12 infrared optical cameras. Kinematic data were recorded when rider-horse combinations were moving on a high-speed treadmill. Saddle pressure was also measured using a saddle mat.

The long-term goal should be to produce healthier individuals and better performance and the results from this study may promote development. However, there is a need for more scientific documentation of the optimal postural position and the technical skill required for riders. Results suggest that riders should try to keep an upright position when collecting the horse instead of tilting the pelvis and shoulders backwards.


Here you will find summaries of scientific articles that explains more.


M.T. Engell, H.M. Clayton, A. Egenvall, M.A. Weishaupt, and L. Roepstorff. Postural changes and their effects in elite riders when actively influencing the horse versus sitting passively at trot. Comparative Exercise Physiology, 2016: 12 (1): 27-33.