Horsemanship - Posting
( Originally Published 1962 )
Some time ago a riding academy ran an advertisement to the effect that it taught riding in three lessons. The academy did a land-office business. The owner and instructor, an excellent former dairyman, began to shave every day and acquired a new ten-gallon hat and an expensive car.
Some curious but misguided competitor, who had been laboring under the impression that it took at least several months to produce a decent rider, investigated and found that the pupils of the academy spent the three lessons trying to learn to post, and that when they had mastered that feat after a fashion they were supposed to know enough. What else was there to it, anyway?
There is no denying that this idea is popular, but there still seem to be some dissenters among the "experts." A female instructor of equitation at a prominent school for girls went so far as to inform the budding debutantes that posting was not done at all in the best circles.
Between these two mistaken extremes the real truth lies. The general idea of posting is to save wear and tear on the horse and rider on the road and bridle path. Posting cannot be used in building up the rider's seat or the use of the aids, or in the schooling of the horse, because it partly removes the rider's weight from the saddle, eliminates the use of the seat as an aid, and reduces the effectiveness of the boots.
In posting, the seat touches the saddle without a jar every other beat, in a relaxed, supple, somewhat lazy, and perfectly timed motion. If the rider is not exactly in time with his horse the motion becomes ungraceful and clumsy and is hard on both horse and rider.
The rider's weight is transferred slightly from his seat to stirrups and knees. The seat must swing forward as it moves up, in order to stabilize the balance and lend ease and grace to the motion. In other words, when the seat touches the saddle, the position is somewhat forward-leaning; when the seat comes up and forward the position is for an instant perpendicular.
The knees must be fixed in a firm grip during posting, so that the axis of the swing is definitely located in the knees, not in the stirrups. Neglect of this detail usually results in an unsightly swing of the legs. The seat should descend into the saddle under full control and land with the full weight but without the slightest trace of a bump. A slight stiffening of the back at this moment will facilitate the upward motion that immediately follows. The rider must take advantage of the action of the horse for his upward movement and never try to stand in the stirrups and lift himself. The stirrups and knees are used only as bumpers, to regulate the movement down into the saddle.
The rider must pay close attention to the "diagonals." If his seat comes down in the saddle as the horse's left front foot touches the ground he is riding on the left diagonal. If he comes down with the right front foot he is riding on the right diagonal. To eliminate another cause for stumbling the rider should always post on the outside diagonal in a turn or in the ring, in which case the action of the inside front leg is already somewhat cramped; it is not logical to aggravate this condition by posting on it. When the road or path slopes sidewise posting is done on the lower side, for the same reason. On long rides on the trail or road, careful track should be kept of the diagonals used during the successive periods of trot, in order to alternate properly and save the horse's strength. Otherwise the same diagonal may be used all day, which will tire the horse unnecessarily and gradually result in a pronounced stiffness on one side. Frequently a horse's refusal to take one lead or the other at a canter is a result of the one-sided stiffness brought on by careless posting.