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Love Horseback Riding, Issue #015- Mastering The Sitting Trot
March 01, 2016
|Dear Horsey Friends,
Hello,Spring is just around the corner, and longer days too. Have you seen that meme that says “Daylight Savings ending is like Christmas for horse people.” Yeah it’s true. When you get out of work or school you’ll soon have more time to make it to the barn and spend some time with your horse in the light!
What's NewAre you familiar with how to lead a horse properly? If you learned this skill in a traditional barn, then you may surprised to know that this is a commonly mis-taught skill. Go here to get the skinny on this essential skill.
Learning- Trotting; Mastering The Sitting TrotLast month we tackled the mechanics and footfall pattern involved in the trot, posting (rising) trot as well as learning what diagonals are and how to know if you are trotting on the proper one. If you missed last month’s newsletter or are a new subscriber you may want to go check it out on this page. This month we’re going to play with learning more about the all elusive sitting trot. There is no doubt that the sitting trot can be a very hard skill to master. Even experienced riders can have difficulty mastering it.
As we discussed last month, the trot is a 2-beat gait with a brief moment of suspension where all four feet are off the ground followed by a diagonal pair of legs hitting the ground. This is what makes it BOUNCY!
Here’s some tips for riding the sitting trot;
1)If you have access to a trainer/instructor with a solidly trained horse I strongly recommend doing a few sitting trot lessons on the lunge line to practice. This is an absolutely fantastic way to get into the rhythm trot and to focus on your seat without having to guide your horse or have the task of keeping him moving. Preferably have the instructor use a horse that has a steady and less bouncy trot.
2) Don’t stiffen up your body. This is the biggest secret (and #1 mistake made) in the sitting trot. The more you stiffen, the more you’ll bounce.
This is because the motion of the trot has to go somewhere, and if you try hard not to move it will come out somewhere anyway! The usual culprits where you’ll find yourself bouncing will be your elbows (chicken arms anyone?), neck, and your knees or ankles which will cause more of a bouncing rear end.
3)There is a school of thought for “absorbing” all the motion of the trot. This is pretty standard advice for those learning the sitting trot. The problem with this is that motion has to go somewhere, and absorbing can lead to your body kind of collapsing and falling out of the proper position. I do think there is some amount of absorption to the motion, but don’t exaggerate it.
4) Instead of trying to absorb the trot, try keeping yourself in motion with the trot. As your horse’s back falls, you go with it, as it comes up lift slightly up in your body.
Engage your core muscles to stabilize yourself. Try sitting the trot without your stirrups too, as this can help you sit heavier in your seat and keep you from bracing through your knees and ankles. This way you can gain a feel on your seat bones.
Only attempt to ride without stirrups if you and your horse are both competent to do so. If not, find a way to get a lunge lesson whether on your own horse or a more suitable mount.
Here are some other tips for practicing the sitting trot;
-The slower the trot, typically the easier it is to sit. So if your horse normally trots pretty fast, I would work on slowing that trot down consistently before trying to teach yourself to sit.
-Don’t be afraid to experiment within your body. It is a learning process and will be different for everyone because of varying body types. Experiment with small adjustments to your body in different places. For instance, try moving your pelvis slightly back, or adjust how your are moving in your body with the motion.
-Don’t expect to master the sitting trot quickly. It is a process over time, especially if you are new to it. It can take quite a long time and you’ll find that your ability to sit the trot will vary from horse to horse. Some horses have very smooth trots, making them easy to sit to, while others are naturally quite bouncy.
-Don’t forget about your other aids and position. It can be too easy to concentrate so hard that you lose your leg contact or heel position, or drop your head and eyes. If this becomes habit, it will not help your riding long term.
Again, if possible, take a few lunge lessons with a reliable trainer and horse. This can take the pressure off you to keep your horse maintaining the trot and his direction while you are trying to work on your position.
That’s it for this month. Happy trotting!
In the meanwhile, visit Lovehorsebackriding.com on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter! Until then,
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