How the Equiseat Aid developed and its success...
I quite often get asked how the Equiseat Aid came about, and it’s not surprising. It is an unusual and simple riding aid which makes an enormous difference to both riders and their horses, so people are inquisitive about it. In this blog I’m going to take you through why I decided there was a need for an aid like this, how the Equiseat Aid was developed, and how it works.
A problem which needed solving
I’ve spent my career working with so many different horses and riders, helping them troubleshoot issues, work on reaching new levels and generally making sure they can reach their true potential. Sometimes I would work with horses which have been written off, helping to pinpoint what’s gone wrong and reschool them. But quite often, with their original rider back on, the horses would revert back to how they were.
Over time I came to realise that virtually every single rider sits wonky in the saddle. They might be just slightly wonky, barely noticeable to someone watching, or be so unbalanced or twisted that it’s visible to the trained eye. This isn’t an issue affecting only amateur or new riders, I’ve worked with professionals who struggle too. We all have a dominant side and that’s most often the root cause, with one leg gripping up or our core out of balance but it can also be caused by riding an unbalanced horse or pony and compensating over time. But one thing is certain - an unbalanced rider can have a surprising influence on their horse and its ability to work correctly. It makes sense when you think about it - imagine being made to run in circles and jump with a wonky backpack on your back day in, day out. Over time, you’d probably be sore and compensating.
Working on a solution
I spent a long time thinking about how to help riders sit balanced and straight, particularly when they are riding over fences or when asking for more complex schooling moves. By watching countless videos and riders in real life I realised that that lack of balance, either low grade or more severe, was as much to do with strength as it was weakness. That dominant side can cause an issue in the saddle, with anything from transitions or school movements to jumping causing the stronger leg to grip up. That forces our weight to the opposite side which of course, encourages the horse to move away from where we are applying the pressure. It also leads to us twisting our pelvis to one side and engaging one seat bone more than the other. We school our horses to be so sensitive to our balance and leg and seat aids, yet without the horse doing anything wrong so many riders are sending confusing signals!
Designing and developing the Equiseat Aid
I tested all sorts of different ideas to prevent riders gripping on the dominant side, as simply telling them not to won’t undo muscle memory from many years. I found that by attaching something to the rider’s leg on their stronger side, it prevented them bracing their leg. A little physical reminder every time they would normally grip. I created a prototype which wrapped around the thigh on the dominant side and tested it on lots of my clients. The results were so amazing, even after just a few minutes of use. It helped riders open their hips symmetrically, straightened their pelvis and engaged both seat bones in the saddle evenly. It also helped straighten their upper bodies and more importantly, allowed the riders to use their upper body in a more effective and balanced way.
Now, two years on from that first prototype, we’re busy sharing the word about the Equiseat Aid and helping riders of all levels and ages find balance and harmony with their horse. The Equiseat Aid is available in six sizes and three colours and we hold clinics and demos all over the country. If you’d like to take a closer look, click here.