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The half seat

Key position in polo

Of the three positions one takes on the horse full-seat, half-set, and raised striking position the half-seat is the most common, and is particularly used for controlling the horse and striking the ball.

In this position, both horse and player feel comfortable, achieving good balance between the movements of the two. The half-set position is commonly used by good players throughout the game, especially when riding at speed; it’s a position of balance.

How to achieve a half-seat position:

1) Bring torso forward, softly lifting body contact from the saddle.
2) Both feet move backwards – counteracting the movement of your torso, which moves forward.
3) Hips should also come forward, towards the front of the saddle; this in turn encourages greater pressure in the legs (adductors and knees) and assures a low center of gravity.
As the feet travel backwards and downwards, the ankles separate from the side of the horse, allowing for better grip from the upper leg.

This position aligns the player’s center of gravity with the horses’, and becomes an optimum striking pose. The horse is best controlled in this position, no matter at what speed it is travelling.

The half-seat is similar to the raised striking position; the latter requires the player to lean further forward and place more weight on the corresponding stirrup, depending on which side the strike will take place, so as to achieve a clean shot.

Crucially, the half-seat position improves timing, one of the most difficult components of the strike.

The race to goal is played in the half-seat position; one of the main characteristics of this position is the lack of shoulder or hip rotation. Passes are short and precise.

Help from the left hand is generally sought, leaning the left hand with the reins on the base of the horse’s neck (known as tripod or third-support position). Overall, the half-seat is a fundamental position in polo, and the one most used throughout the game.