I came across the phrase "sat a horse" in a novel. I ignored it as a typo, thinking it should have been "I sat on a horse." However I searched this on Google now and I find a number of examples where this phrase occurs.

Why is this grammatical and what does this mean?

  • I read in McCarthy's "Blood Meridian": "The sergeant sat his horse beside him [the captain I presume] ..." and a couple of lines further: "Then he sat his horse with the glass at his chest like a crucifix." May 1, 2016 at 10:38
  • William Melvin Kelley, in his novel A Different Drummer, writes: «Harry had sat the horse and watched him».
    – Carlos
    Feb 22, 2019 at 15:32

1 Answer 1


To 'sit a horse' means much more than to 'sit upon a horse': it means to adopt and maintain a correct posture and fluidity of motion while riding a horse.

It is usually encountered with a qualification, as:

She sits a horse very well, very well indeed.
Set Lt. Harpeth down for riding lessons. He sits that pony like a demmed Cockney greengrocer.

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