Teaching a green rider the trot - Page 2
 
 

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Teaching a green rider the trot

This is a discussion on Teaching a green rider the trot within the English Riding forums, part of the Riding Horses category
  • How to keep butt in saddle on quarter hourse while trotting
  • Trotting without holding on

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    07-21-2012, 09:47 PM
  #11
Foal
Yeah, I like the western saddle idea. It will give her a little more support and makes everyone feel a little more comfortable with the horn in front. Another idea is that you set up some cones in the middle of the arena and practice weaving threw them at a walk. Then slowly build up to a trot. Do you guys have a round pen? That would definitely help her since most horses will stay out of the middle and only follow the outer part of the ring.
     
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    07-22-2012, 09:20 AM
  #12
Foal
I'm a beginner myself, I started riding about 2 months ago and am now decent at both sit and rising trot, so maybe I can help. The first time I tried to sit trot was on a lunge and it still scared the bejeebus out of me. What helped me the most was my instructor made it really clear which muscles to use to hold on (NOT the reins, or the saddle, or whatever), and emphasized how important form is, especially pushing down as HARD AS I CAN on the balls of my feet. Maybe if you tell her to focus on her grip muscles while she rides and do yoga at home for balance/core she will improve, and have her do a walk without stirrups to practice strengthening her thighs. And if you have her do the drills while the horse is in a walk, like situps and toe touches, she will have better balance and confidence.
     
    07-22-2012, 10:29 AM
  #13
Trained
"which muscles to use to hold on...pushing down as HARD AS I CAN on the balls of my feet"

??????????????????

I suppose it varies some with style of riding, but I've never heard of using muscles to hold on while sitting the trot, and pushing down hard on the balls of the feet is 180 out from how I approach a sitting trot. Or posting.
     
    07-22-2012, 10:34 AM
  #14
Foal
Quote:
Originally Posted by bsms    
"which muscles to use to hold on...pushing down as HARD AS I CAN on the balls of my feet"

??????????????????

I suppose it varies some with style of riding, but I've never heard of using muscles to hold on while sitting the trot, and pushing down hard on the balls of the feet is 180 out from how I approach a sitting trot. Or posting.
It helps to keep my heels down and, of course you hold on with muscles? How else would you hold on? Just sit there and flop around?
     
    07-22-2012, 01:33 PM
  #15
Trained
Quote:
Originally Posted by Laurren    
It helps to keep my heels down...
Pushing down on the balls of your feet doesn't do much for keeping your heels down. It does create tension in the leg, which is counter-productive to sitting the trot. It is probably better to think about lifting your toe than it is to think about heels down. A common exercise to improve trotting is to go without stirrups. Think about that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Laurren    
...and, of course you hold on with muscles? How else would you hold on? Just sit there and flop around?
Yep. Pretty much.

Gravity is your friend. Let the weight of your legs pull you into the saddle - although this requires a relaxed leg and NOT "pushing down as HARD AS I CAN on the balls of my feet". Keep a relaxed back and enjoy the ride. Then you end up 'just sitting there' instead of flopping around.

If someone wants to try to grip hard enough to hold his/her butt in the saddle during a trot, I've got a 13 hand BLM mustang I'd like to introduce you to...

And while my horses are pretty slender, I've been on some Quarter Horses with backs that resembled the roof of a Ford Explorer. Unless you have legs that allow you to cross a room with a single step, you ain't going to get your legs wrapped around and hold yourself on the horse with your muscles. And yes, trotting on my mustang will just about split you in two if you try.

BTW - one of the things my daughter-in-law was shown on her first (western) lesson (in a round pen) was to hold on to the horn for her initial balance, then pull her legs out of the stirrups, close her eyes and relax until she was barely touching the horn. Then let go of the horn. Of course, it helped that the lesson horse was an outstanding gelding who was paying attention to the instructor and who had a gentle jog. It gave her confidence since she could adjust how much she was holding on to the horn on her own schedule. It also taught her to relax and enjoy trotting. I wish I had taken a camera so I could show the smile she had...
jinxremoving and freia like this.
     
    07-22-2012, 01:44 PM
  #16
Yearling
Quote:
Originally Posted by Laurren    
It helps to keep my heels down and, of course you hold on with muscles? How else would you hold on? Just sit there and flop around?
To echo what has already been said, don't force your heels down! You need to let the weight sink into your heels. When sitting the trot you need to relax and not grip otherwise the horse will likely speed up and you're going to find it even harder to sit. When posting (rising) trot you let the horses impulsion lift you out of the saddle... far too often people will push off their stirrups to rise and that's incorrect. Also make sure the stirrup length is correct as that can sometimes contribute to heels coming up, or at least make it difficult to sink into them.

Pick up a copy of Sally Swifts - Centered Riding, it might help you better visualize how to sit and post the trot.
     
    07-22-2012, 01:56 PM
  #17
Yearling
Quote:
Originally Posted by Laurren    
What helped me the most was my instructor made it really clear which muscles to use to hold on (NOT the reins, or the saddle, or whatever), and emphasized how important form is, especially pushing down as HARD AS I CAN on the balls of my feet.
Oh yikes! I read the full comment (not just what bsms quoted) and noticed that an instructor told you to do that. I would talk to her and tell her that people are saying it's wrong, you shouldn't grip while sitting the trot nor try to force your heels down. Maybe she has a specific reason for asking you to do that, knowing it's wrong, but definitely a good way to teach you some bad habits.

Check this article out:

http://www.woodlandhorse.com/introtothesittingtrot.html

They stole some of that from a book, but it explains why gripping is a sin when sitting the trot. If your instructor wants to argue and tell you that gripping + forcing heels down is the correct way to ride, then I would suggest finding a new instructor and buy the old instructor the US Pony Club D Manual - Basics For Beginners.
bsms likes this.
     
    07-22-2012, 02:04 PM
  #18
Foal
Thanks for all the feedback, guys. Unfortunately, I don't have any other horse to teach her on. I am teaching her on my personal horse. By no means is she a school horse, but she is perfectly capable of helping my friend/student learn simple things like balance and steering. I have had her steer around jump standards (like cones because I don't have any actual cones). I have put up poles that she has to steer through at the walk, and she does wel. I think balance is the major issue. I don't have a western saddle myself, but I may be able to borrow one from someone. I also have access to a roundpen, so I definitely think I will utilize that next time. It never even occurred to me to try that. Silly me. Thanks for all the help. Should I have her focus on sitting first? Or posting? Or both?
     
    07-22-2012, 02:35 PM
  #19
Trained
Quote:
Originally Posted by LizzieE    
...Should I have her focus on sitting first? Or posting? Or both?
For English, I'd recommend posting first. For a forward seat, I might even try 2-point prior to posting. My big challenge trying to teach myself riding and posting (starting English on a spooky horse) was getting my balance to synch with the horse. An instructor would have done wonders for me, but I increasing believe that learning to feel the horse's balance and movement is a critical foundation for everything else.

OTOH, my family prefers western, and I ride an Aussie-style saddle using western rein use. For western, I'd start with the sitting trot, in part because a lot of western saddles make posting awkward unless you already know how to do it. A lot of western saddles put the rider in a chair seat, which is fine for some types of western riding - but posting from a chair seat is miserable IMHO.

I'm not an instructor or a highly qualified rider, so I'm just answering off of what felt best (or what hindered me) when I was learning to ride a few years ago.
     
    07-22-2012, 09:42 PM
  #20
Yearling
If you don't have a Western saddle handy, use the English. The suggestion of the Western saddle was for the horn = something to grab onto. I would think that you could do about the same thing by putting a grab strap on your English saddle until she builds some confidence. You don't need a bonafide grab-strap. An old spur-strap or piece of rope attached to the dee-rings should suffice.
Do the above mentioned balance exercises at a walk until she builds confidence, balance, and relaxes and no longer feels she needs the horn/grab-strap.

I think a few of the above posts might really be onto something. Many green riders will tense up in anticipation of their first trot. Being tense is bone-jarring, especially if sitting the trot. Once that's happened, she'll tense up even more the next time, in anticipation of having her kidneys turned to jell-o.

Here's an exercise my trainer did with me (30 years ago - some details might not be accurate).

-Sit on the horse at a standstill with someone holding the horse. No stirrups.
-Relax
-take time to find the balance point and the leg position that gives the best contact and most comfort.
- sit there like that until completely relaxed and comfortable. If still tense, ask her to yawn deeply. This will relax most people.
-Close the eyes. Feel the balance, position, and relax completely.
-Now envision a thick, heavy bathmat. Yes, bathmat. Visualise that it's soaking wet. You know how heavy that is and how it wraps itself onto every surface? Visualize that all your body parts that contact the saddle/horse are a wet bathmat. Let your lower body become that wet bathmat. Relax and balance like that.

30 years later, whenever I'm on a horse with a bonejarring trot that makes me start to tense up and bounce, I think of that wet bathmat.
bsms likes this.
     

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