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often been said that this desired lightness of touch is a rare gift, wholly denied to strong men. But if a man have a seat that is independent of any support from the reins, he may acquire a light touch upon the mouth of the horse as readily as he may make a fine stroke with a pen.
As I have said, each man has a seat peculiar to himself, and that will be his seat for all purposes, whether in the field, upon the road, or in the school.
It will be obtained in the following manner :
After having reached the saddle, disengage the left foot from the stirrup. Then bearing the weight of the body upon the buttocks, make the inner sides of the thigh, from the knee up, grasp the saddle. The body must be held erect, the shoulders thrown back, and the chin drawn in ; and the elbows should be carried close to the sides.
The legs, from the knee down, should hang without stiffness, and the feet will, without effort, find their proper place, parallel with the body of the horse.
The length of stirrup-leather will be found when the tread of the iron strikes the heel of the boot immediately above the junction of the sole. The toes will be raised and inserted in the stirrups as far as the balls of the feet.
The stability of the seat is dependent upon the weight of the body, the balance, and the grasp of the thighs. The erect seat upon the breech, that we have
described, permits the body to make, most readily, those motions that are necessary for preserving the perpendicular application of the weight, and for keeping the balance. The strongest hold upon the saddle possible is with the inside of the thighs.
There should be no pressure upon the stirrups ; for this would relieve the weight, disturb the balance, and force the grip of the thighs. It is no argument in favour of riding upon the stirrups that the horsemen of the East carry their knees up to the pummel of the saddle, for the Mexicans, who are better riders, extend the leg to its full length. It is in spite of bad systems that these peoples who live on horseback become skilful in the management of their steeds. Because a circus performer standing upon one leg keeps his horse under circumstances that would prevent a poor rider from keeping in his saddle, it is no argument that the proper way to ride is upon one
The seat having been found and the stirrups having been adjusted, no changes should be made for the different circumstances under which the rider will be called upon to exercise his skill. It is bad art when the principles are not suited to every emergency; and the seat that has been found to be that in which the centre of gravity can best be preserved in the high airs of the menége, where the horse makes the most violent
movements of the fore-hand and of the croup, should answer all requirements.
The beginner will use the reins of the snafile only. He will take a rein in the grasp of each hand, the loose end passing under and held by the thumb, at a length that will give him command of the mouth of the horse.
In teaching the horse the changes of direction, as is described in the chapter upon “ Hands and Legs,” one hand will hold the curb, the reins divided by the little finger and grasped