English Riding Seat Positions

The Certified Horsemanship Association illustrates the full seat, two-point, half seat and light seat in a horse-training video.

Each type of English riding seat has a different purpose, and it is especially important to know the distinction between them when working your horse over fences.

There can be some confusion that needs clarification in some of the different types of seats, especially when we are riding toward fences.

Full Seat

First, it’s important to understand a full seat. Basically, this will be your default sitting position. It is defined as having three points of contact with your horse: your bottom and each knee.

A full seat provides you the opportunity to use your body as an aid in multiple ways. You will be able to send your horse forward or collect with a full seat.

Two Point

Although the full seat is handy in many situations, you cannot sit on your horse’s back over fences. In these situations, you would go into a two-point position.

Even after you know how to define a certain equitation term, it can be hard knowing if you are executing it correctly. Luckily, AQHA offers its Borrow a Trainer report. Order and download a copy today to aid you in your horse-training adventures.

A two point means you have two points of contact with your horse: your knees. In this position, you will sit still, with your bottom lifted completely out of the saddle. You can still use your hands, voice and legs as natural aids.

This position allows your horse the freedom to round over the fences as he jumps and use his body in the most athletic way possible. You can rest your hands on your horse’s neck for balance as you are strengthening your core and legs.

Half Seat or Light Seat

Depending on your location and discipline, this next position may be called either a half seat or a light seat, but the terms can be used interchangeably.

A half seat or light seat is in between a full seat and two point in terms of contact with your horse. Your clothing may be touching the saddle, but your bottom and pelvis bones should not be making contact with your saddle.

Need help perfecting your body position in time for the next big show? Having trouble understanding your horse’s ideal topline? Wondering what your horse is trying to tell you? Don't fret. Download AQHA's Borrow a Trainer report so you can learn the answer to all of these complex questions. 

You may need to use this position to keep your horse coming underneath himself or to regulate his stride as you approach a fence.

Before trying any of these seats over fences, you should practice them at each gait.

Teresa Kackert of Menifee, California is an AQHA Professional Horsewoman, Wrangler Extreme Team Member, Certified Horsemanship Association Master Instructor and clinician.


Check out the Certified Horsemanship Association video of Teresa explaining the different English seat positions.