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Sitting Trot - Tips?

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    05-28-2011, 01:31 AM
Ok, don't laugh. Keep your weight back on your Jean pockets. Imagine you are a sack of potatoes. Heavy, kind of slouchy (sitting tall tenses muscles which makes you bounce more) keep joints moveable so they can absorb the horses motion. Imagine your Jean pockets are paddles an move slightly with the horse. Stay very loose as you ride. When riding without stirrups still keep your heels down, it helps with balance alot more then it seems like it would.
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    05-28-2011, 01:50 AM
Lots of great advice.

I especially like BSM's advice to do other things while riding.
I think a combo of having a lunge lesson where you have the luxury of doing NOTHING but focussing on your form for a bit, then going out to practice this by not focussing toomuch on it but rather using it as a tool to get you where you need to get.

YOu know that the trot motion is like a wave; it is both up and down, and side to side with the more dramatic movement being the up and down.

The horse can carry you up easily, especially if you LET him. It's the down part where problems start. If the horse's syne wave and your syne wave get off rythm with each other (he is going down a split second before you), then eventually you get so off kilter that you are goind down just when he is coming up and you whap! Into the upward moving saddle. Then , usually you reestablish your rythm to his for a few strides until you two get out of kilter again, and on and on.

SO, you must think about going DOWN with him as more important than going UP with him. You cannot wait for gravity to make you fall back down, you almost bring your pelvis down with the saddle by the contraction of your core muscles. At the least, take a few strides and think about the down beat as apposed to focussing on rising with him.

Can I sit the trot well? H*ll no!

Do NOT grip with the calves. Only in an emergency as it will cause your upper body to loose it's freedom to follow the horse's movement .
    05-28-2011, 08:12 AM
Originally Posted by tinyliny    
Do NOT grip with the calves. Only in an emergency as it will cause your upper body to loose it's freedom to follow the horse's movement .
Yes, gripping with the calves will not give a nice sitting trot. Here's why. If you grip with the calves or feet they become a pivot point- the lower legs stay with the horse's movement. Your body will then bounce or move around as your seat cannot stay on the horse & you will end up trying to follow the motion with your upper body-like a tied on blow-up doll.
Think of it as if you were bolted onto a horse. If the bolts were through your ankles or lower legs the rest of you is free to flop around. If the bolts were through your butt you would easily follow the motion. Do not try real bolts.
If you drop or lengthen your legs the pivot point is in your seat & hips, where you want it to be. Balance (side to side) is then kept with mainly using your upper inner thighs. The low back & hips need to be loose to follow the motion. The lower legs are then free to communicate speed & direction.
    05-28-2011, 09:19 AM
Just got email today from Jane Savoi's website:

"Today’s training focuses on one of the biggest issues for many riders—How to sit the trot better. You might even be surprised to find out stuff like how tension in your neck relates to how easily you can sit the trot!"

I'd really suggest to sign up to her videos (it's FREE). I find them to be easy to understand.
    05-28-2011, 11:53 AM
Originally Posted by tinyliny    
...SO, you must think about going DOWN with him as more important than going UP with him. You cannot wait for gravity to make you fall back down, you almost bring your pelvis down with the saddle by the contraction of your core muscles...
I don't like disagreeing with tinyliny, but I do disagree here. The only force available to make you go down is gravity. You have nothing above you to push against and force you down. You can grab the front of the saddle and force yourself lower in the saddle, but who wants to ride like that?

Since gravity is the only thing that can make you come down - riding normally - then I draw two conclusions:

1 - The less you go up, the easier it is to come back down. The upward thrust could launch you above the horse's back (did that a couple of months ago, and it hurt when I hit the ground), but the less it launches, the easier it is for gravity to pull you down with the horse's back. So one part of riding the sitting trot smoothly is to go up less.

2 - You can slow your return, but you cannot speed it up. Once you start down by gravity, physics controls how fast you come down - unless you interfere. And the best way to interfere is tension in your legs. Posting without meaning to post. The tension can be your leg muscles straightening your leg against the stirrup, or it can be tension in your thighs pulling your legs together - think of an inverted V coming down on top of an O. Tension pulling the legs of the V together would slow the inverted V from coming down.

A few months ago, I was lunging my mare with an English saddle on her. I noticed the stirrups didn't move much as she trotted in circles around me. But then, stirrups don't fight the horse. I was mostly paying attention to the forward-aft movement, but IIRC, they didn't bounce much up or down either.

So how do you reduce going up? The only things I can think of are to roll your hips back slightly until you feel the fleshy part of your buttocks in contact with the saddle, and let your butt muscles take part of the upward thrust. The second is to have a relaxed back. However, I think there is a limited amount we can do to reduce the upward motion.

To speed up coming down, the only things I can think of are:

1 - Relax, Relax, Relax! Relax your legs. Relax your thighs (pulling together). Relax your butt muscles (particularly while going up). Relax your back. Relax your shoulders. You cannot speed up gravity, but you can slow the effect of gravity down.

2 - Legs below you. I like to ride with a mild chair seat, but if I am pushing my feet forward, then A) there is tension, and B) the weight to my front is pivoting me (creating imbalance) instead of pulling me down.

I will temper this a bit. My legs are extremely tight from 40 years of jogging and only recently taking up riding. The tension in my thighs isn't so much muscular as it is tendons and muscles I cannot control trying to keep my legs together. When my feet are a bit forward, my legs don't have to spread as far apart, so a MILD chair seat might help me. But I'm a 53 year old guy. On the whole, getting my heels underneath should help me come down straighter and faster.

Still, I'm very much a beginner rider. There may be a lot of other things I'm just not seeing. But right now, I am convinced my biggest problem with riding is fighting the horse's motion instead of accepting it.
    05-28-2011, 02:46 PM
I can't emphasize enough how important it is to understand *how* the horse's back moves; then you have to put yourself in the correct position so your seatbones can follow that motion.

Also, I think you took tinyliny's suggestions too literally. (I remember from the Centered Riding thread that you're analytical and don't do well with imagery.)
You *allow* your seatbone to sink down as the horse's back on that side falls; that's what she means by going down, not that you force your seatbone down or grind into the horse's back.

This all sounds so easy on the internet, but the truth is, as soon as your start to bounce out of the tack, you lose correct postion or start to grip and lock your joints. Then you have to struggle to find the following motion all over again. That's why learning on the lunge is such a good idea.

If you don't have a helpful dog, lunge a horse with a big trot with no saddle and pay attention to how the muscles of the back under the saddle really move at the trot; that's a great first step.

Fairly early in my dressage education, I got in a fabulous moving horse with a *huge* trot. At my first training level show with him; the judge told me 1.) not to attempt to sit to him yet because I would ruin him 2.) to go take a lot of lunge line lessons on an upper level horse and *really* learn how to sit before attempting it with him. (She then gave us 8s on some of our rising trot work.) It was excellent advice. I did 4 months of weekly lessons on a 3rd/4th level horse that was also a huge mover. I had to have massage and chiropractic on a regular basis during that time, but overall it was well worth it.
    05-28-2011, 04:01 PM
Something I would love to do if I could figure out the mechanics: Put a sack of potatoes in a saddle, trot the horse on a lunge line, and see if the potatoes could 'ride' the horse better than I do.

My guess is the answer would be yes. Potatoes don't get nervous and don't have knees to grip with.

When I start to get out of synch, I make a conscious effort to spread my knees and try to make myself relax, particularly in the lower back and thighs. When I do, gravity seems to put me back in synch with the horse's motion.
    05-28-2011, 04:19 PM
I agree that there is no force against which one can push to bring themselves down faster than gravity. What can happen , though, is that the human body can contract and expand (even in a vacuum, such as space where nothing exists to puch against). So, the pelvis and lower back can contract (makeing the effective length of the upper body less,) then expand downward to match the drop of the saddle downward. It is more a mental image than an actual , physical process. What we focus on matters. So, for someone who may not find the ability to follow the sitting trot, trying something new such as focussing on the downward part of the wave may make a difference.

ETA; I find myself honored to think BSMS would not like to disagree with me. Isn't that special? ( hear Church Ladies voice)
    05-28-2011, 04:40 PM
Originally Posted by bsms    
Put a sack of potatoes in a saddle, trot the horse on a lunge line, and see if the potatoes could 'ride' the horse better than I do.
If you tie the sack to the horn it WILL ride and possibly even sit through the buck (unlike many of us).
    05-28-2011, 10:36 PM
I had the hardest time learning to sit the trot when I was taking lessons. My instructor used to tell me I "floated above the saddle because my hips were too closed and creating a triangle that was making me hover". She said she'd never seem anyone ride by floating along basically above the saddle without falling off yet I could do it. Unfortunately I couldn't sit the trot or canter without being bounced everywhere.

So I took lungeline lessons, lots and lots of them. I'd trot without the reins, without the stirrups, with my eyes closed. You name it I think I did it. My instructor told me to be like spaghetti, all wiggly and loose. She also told me to imagine I had two headlights attached to my hips and that I wanted to keep them facing forward and slightly up. This helped me to sit taller and not round my back out so much.

I actually rode my horse today without stirrups to work on my sitting trot and to try and figure out why my right hip collapses when i'm riding a circle. I did okay on the sitting trot, aside from the fact that my horse kept stopping and doing his crazy half canter half trot move he likes to throw in. I didn't get very far into investigating the collapsing hip though.


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