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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Sitting trot

At my last lesson I discovered the power of the sitting trot.

Throughout this journey of learning to ride, there have been some revolutionary breakthroughs. So far mine have included:

Galloping for the first time bareback and not falling off
Galloping FULL out in a saddle and feeling the power of the horse
Riding a collected canter for the first time

Discovering the power of the sitting trot was no less magical than any of these.

Posting for me is absolutely natural. I could do it in my sleep. It’s the same one-two motion of running. It’s easy on my horse and it’s easy on my body. Absolutely effortless, I go along with the motion of the horse. Which is why, as I trotted around in a circle, willing my body to stop bouncing, I was frustrated. I had tried totally relaxing, moving side to side, flexing my back, going with the bounce. Nothing worked. I bounced higher and higher, while my knees moved higher and higher, and her head rose higher and higher. Finally out of desperation I shoved my hips into the bounce. More similar to a canter than a posting trot, I shoved my hips forward into every bounce. My chin came down, my chest expanded upward, and I put a haughty expression on my face. PUSH PUSH PUSH. My whole problem was trying not to bounce by going WITH the bounce. The secret was to EMBRACE the bounce and PUSH the bounce with my hips. I CONTROLLED THE BOUNCE.

It was a power trip I tell ya…….

I felt Farley expand below me to match the power of my hips as she stretched down, softening her jaw, and increasing her thrust behind.

I had laughed when my trainer told me that once I learned to sit the trot I would never want to post again. BAHAAAHAHAHA (evil laughter of one now addicted to the power rush of the sitting trot).

The sitting trot isn’t even the same gait as the posting trot. It doesn’t help to think of posting AT ALL when trying to do the sitting trot. More similar to the canter than the posting trot, you are almost ahead of the movement, driving the movement. Posting is very much being with the horse, following the movement, making sure you aren’t behind or ahead. The sitting trot is not about relaxing or putting your heels down. This is what it is about: taking control, embracing the bounce, and being supremely confident as you lay it all on the line.

****BTW – When I talk about driving the motion, I’m NOT talking about a driving seat, I’m trying to describe the difference in motion between the posting trot and the movement the hip makes for the sitting trot. Think about the differences between your seat at the canter and the posting trot and you’ll get what I mean.


  1. When I was a kid I spent hour and hours in lessons with my stirrups taken away being forced to trot. Posting was easy with no stirrups, so of course I had to spend more time sitting. Out of that torture has come a rider who truly loves the sitting trot! I think it is the most useful gait! You have enough impulsion to get somewhere but are still sitting with the horse enough to really feel what is going on and use your seat aids!

  2. The sitting trot is one of my arch enemies...I have never been able to learn it because just as I was getting ready to do so on any horse I have ridden the horse has gotten hurt/retired/etc so now I have a mental block about it. I avoid it at all costs. I feel like the sitting trot is just bad mojo. I loved reading your post though because you have just made me realize that sitting is FUN and should not be something I am scared of. THANK YOU! I owe you big time now for making me start to think about sitting again.

  3. Ah, the glory of the sitting trot...happy sigh.

    When I moved from my former trainer to my current trainer and she asked for the sitting trot, I laughed.

    "Can't do it," sez I.

    "You can," sez she, and sure enough, I can, and it is glorious.

    I think of pushing with my butt cheeks. For whatever reason, this keeps my brain out of my midsection and allows me to relax and follow the motion properly. Hey, whatever works, right?

  4. Thats AWESOME!! I have yet to accomplish a sitting trot with sassy, just cuz i haven't had to :) When i took Bo on his 50 i did a sitting trot on allot of the flats so he could really move out and it is a bit faster. I've used it many times in the jumping arena, and my old instructor explained it to me as rolling your back and thrusting your hips to *really* get that motion...

    Happy New year! (almost)

  5. BTW - if any of you western riders are out there reading this....I am NOT talking abot sitting the western jog! Just wanted to clarify..... :) Western jog does not equal dressage trot. No siree!

  6. I love the sitting trot! I learned to ride on huge (like 16.2 to 17.2) draft cross horses. I used to love taking bareback lessons ( I had a very memorable one where I learned counter canter while riding bareback, it was great for learning that I could take my mind off staying on and found out that I didn't fall off!!) and riding without stirrups.
    I learned to sit trot on Lucy first bareback but still had issues with it in the saddle until I took Lucy to her first show, I made myself learn two days before. Despite that fact that I could sit trot on huge draft crosses fine I had a hard time with Lucy's huge ground covering trot at first, espeshally since I mostly rode on the trail and there is no point to sitting the trot out there.

    I think sitting trot puts you more in tune with your horses movements.

    I miss arena lessons!

  7. By the way Mel, when are you going to post your review?

  8. It's sitting in my briefcase completed!!!! It's been there for 3 weeks!!!!!

    Seriously though - it should get posted this week. Work is slowing down and getting back to normal.

  9. I can't wait! Funny that I can't wait for a book review on a book that I have read several times! Hehe! But I really want to see what you thought of it.

    I'm glad that things are getting back to normal for you. My New Years resolution will be to ride. Period. Hehe!

  10. I really can't imagine ever sitting a REAL trot. However, if I ever get to that point, I will try to remember your description - it's really vivid and I bet it would be helpful.


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