The Military Seat – A Confusing Term

The American Military Seat - Circa 1905

The American Military Seat - Circa 1905

The ‘Military Seat’ is a rather nebulous term. I’ve run into a number of riding instructors who say they teach the ‘Military Seat’ and each one of these instructors have a different idea of what exactly a ‘Military Seat’ is.

Superficially, the Military Seat is any seat used within the context of any given system of military equitation. Note that I use the term ‘system’ because ‘seat’ is part of a system and not a system of riding in and of itself. “The Military Seat” covers a very large and non-specific area. Is that seat pertaining to High School based systems or to Caprilli’s Natural System? Is it the Fort Riley Seat or is it Saumur? Is it Balanced Seat or some variation of the Hunt Seat?

Specifically, the Military Seat in terms of American riding is the seat developed by General Harry D. Chamberlain at Fort Riley in the 1920’s. It is important to remember that ‘seat’ is part of a ‘system’ of riding. Chamberlain developed his ‘Military Seat’ after studying at the Italian Cavalry schools at Tor Di Quinto and the French Cavalry School at Saumur. The resulting seat used in the context of Forward Riding is commonly called the “Balanced Seat”. It is the direct offspring of Federico Caprilli’s “Forward Seat” and as part of a part of a complete system of Forward Riding.

The Military Seat in the context of modern Forward Riding in terms of Balanced Seat and Caprilli’s “Natural System” does not contain elements of collected riding. In fact, if we are to take Caprilli and his Natural System of Forward Riding as the gospel of Forward Riding, collection is to be avoided. Vladimir Littauer clearly stated on numerous occasions that “there is no place for collection in forward riding”. In blunt terms, collection is antithetical to forward riding.

They key to understanding the Military Seat begins with understanding Caprilli’s “Natural System” of Forward Riding as a system of equitation designed for military purposes.

See: Federico Caprilli, The Natural System and Forward Riding –
The Importance of remembering its military origins

See: The American Military Seat – The State of American Military Equitation before the “Fort Riley Seat”

This entry was posted in Cavalry, Equestrian History, Equestrian Sports, Horse Training, Military Equitation, Riding. Bookmark the permalink.

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