The Caprilli Revolution
American hunter/jumper equitation developed from new ideas introduced by Italian Cavalry officer Federico Caprilli in the early 1900s. His “forward seat” changed forever ideas about the safety and comfort of the horse and rider over fences.
When foxhunters and military riders began jumping fences cross-country in the 1800s, they rode in a “chair” seat with legs pushed forward because sitting vertical in the classical (dressage) seat was tiring, and they leaned back over fences in case the horse stumbled. Horses instead were struggling to keep their own balance, let alone that of the rider. Caprill’s method of sitting forward with shorter stirrups to rise out of saddle created angles in the rider’s hips, knees, and ankles that act as springs and allow the rider’s arms to follow the motion of a horse’s head and neck over jumps.
A hundred years later, Caprilli’s principles to help riders perform “with safety and dispatch” and horses to “respond to what is required of them quietly and smoothly with the minimum possible wear and tear” still hold.
Pictured above: Left: Caprilli's Forward Seat. Right: Hunting Chair Seat