The American Military Seat, Circa 1850-1920:
The State of American Military Equitation before the “Fort Riley Seat”
By Dan Gilmore
Revised, November 23, 2012
(Author’s note: This article was revised for clarity and relevance in terms of historical and technical clarity.)
Those seriously pursuing cavalry re-enacting strive to achieve a great amount of detail aimed at accuracy in terms of uniforms, tack, equipment and various other accouterments. The accuracy achieved by the best of re-enactors (mostly of the Civil War genre)is often astounding. Some reenactors go to the extent of reproducing the actual method or system of riding used by various cavalry organizations they portray. The obsolete (and I cannot over-stress “obsolete”) version of the “Military Seat” to be discussed in this article is part of a an extinct system of riding that was specifically created for the purpose of mounted combat using a specific type of saddle (the McClellan).
It should be noted at this point that this method of riding is obsolete when it comes to jumping obstacles. In fact, it would be a dangerous affair in a modern jumping saddle designed for the forward seat.
By the mid-1920’s this obsolete version of the “Military Seat” (circa 1850-1920) was replaced with a variant of Federico Caprilli’s infinitely more efficient “Forward Seat” later to become commonly known as the “Ft. Riley Seat” (part of a system largely based upon Caprilli’s “Natural System” of forward equitation. Caprilli’s “Natural System” will be described in detail in a series of future articles.) Read more: The American Military Seat, circa 1850-1920 – The State of American Military Equitation before the “Fort Riley Seat”