Whatever the discipline of horse sports you are into, the basic seat makes up the foundation for all styles of riding. The basic seat is the style of seat that is best suited for all types of flat work or for the educating of both the horse and the rider.
It is important to understand that the correct way to sit in a saddle will be slightly different from person to person because no two horses or riders are the same height or width.
In the basic seat the rider sits upright in the saddle and should be in a position where a vertical line can be drawn through the rider's ear, shoulder, the point of the hip and the ankle joint. The bottom should rest in the lowest part of the saddle. The weight of the rider should be placed equally over both sides of the saddle as well as the inner thighs. The legs should be relaxed as any tension or tightening in the inner thighs will lever the rider out of the deepest part of the seat and cause the rider to become unbalanced.
The rider's seat should be comfortable and free from strain and the thighs should be slightly rolled inward to make the riders knees rest flat against the saddle. This makes sure that the rider adopts a "deep knee" position which is important for a deep seat and correct leg positioning which allows the rider the maximum application of the riding aids.
A fork seat may result if the stirrups are too long. With a forked seat, the legs have to stretch too far and this causes the riders weight to be taken on the thighs which in turn decreases the ability to correctly apply the leg aids.
Riding with the stirrups too short will result in a chair seat, thus named because the rider's legs rest in the same position as they would in a chair. This position will also affect the use of the leg aids and cause the rider to sit in a shallow seat.
The lower legs should slope backwards from the knee, with the inside of the calf maintaining a soft contact with the horse's body. This angle will place the lower leg just behind the girth, completing the vertical line that runs from the ear to heel.
The feet should naturally rest on the stirrup tread, almost parallel to the horse's side and with the tread just behind the widest part of the foot. Whilst moving the foot should be allowed to flex and the heel should sink slightly lower than the rest of the foot.
The rider should be sitting in the deepest part of the saddle and the upper body should be vertical and free from tension. The rider should sit tall in the saddle but not in a forced or unnatural way. The muscles of the upper body should be strong enough to maintain the upright position but no so tight as to prevent the body from going with the movement of the horse.
The head should be freely carried in a natural position without tension in the neck muscles and the eyes should look straight out over the horse's ears.
The shoulders should be in a natural position without tension and should be drawn slightly back so as to extend the chest forward. The upper arms should hang down freely from the shoulders slightly in front of the vertical with the forearms pointing in a direct line to the horses bit.