Is posting supposed to be effortless? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 27 Old 09-25-2011, 06:08 PM Thread Starter
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Is posting supposed to be effortless?

Hi All,

I'm new to the forum... and to horseback riding. I only started to learn last month. I've had seven half hour lessons so far. I've been reading the threads about riding in this forum and I'm learning a lot but I've been needing a support network of horse riders to give their 2 cents to me. I just had to register and start asking questions. Here are a couple. I appreciate any tips.

1) I've been trying to get the hang of posting the trot. I feel like I'm always on tbe cusp of getting it but I never get there. Before I know it, my half hour session is over. I try to do some "homework" by watching posting trot videos on youtube and even got a metronome and tried posting to the beat on a wide stool. It's not like I can practice riding at home so I'm trying to think of ways I can coax myself to "getting it".

Anyway, during my session yesterday, I thought I had stretches where I got the posting trot right. When you're doing it right and in sync, does it feel effortless? Do you let the upward bump kind of launch you up for the post then back down in time to catch the next shove up? I was able to do this for brief stretches a few times but then eventually I got out of sync, out of balance, and had trouble recovering. When this happens, I get hunched over forward and my feet get too far into the stirrups and makes it so hard for me to reset.

2) My next questions is... what's the best way to reset from a blown posting trot? Should I stop the horse? Slow the horse down to a walk, regain my balance then go again? I failed miserably trying to regain balance, posture, and beat while the horse kept trotting on. It just degenerated into a bumpy ride that I had a hard time recovering from.

As for background information, I'm a guy, 41 years old. I don't think I'm able to learn it instinctively like a 7 year old girl can. I'm just doing this for fun and exercise and have no desire to show. Learning to ride horses just has been on my bucket list all my life. When a horse farm across the street from our development opened up, I said what the heck, now or never. I already feel sheepish enough walking into the ring after 10 year old girls are picked up by their parents, and take my turn for lessons. My wife and two small kids went with me one time and were cheering me on. It was kind of silly seeing parents waiting for their kids' lessons to finish, and it's the other way around for me. My wife and kids were there waiting for daddy's lesson to finish. Sigh... there's this little girl who also just started learning but a couple of months earlier than me. She's up to low jumping now.

Thanks for listening. Any tips for me? Thanks.

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post #2 of 27 Old 09-25-2011, 06:33 PM
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I don't have a lot of advice but I have only been riding english since april and no, posting is not effortless. Or at least it isn't for me yet. I get as much of a workout as my horse does, maybe more. As you gain more of the right muscles for it, it gets easier but months down the line it is not effortless for me( I am 31 so maybe it is effortless for children. That I don't know.)

Don't worry about the time. Developing proper form etc is harder when you are older. Children are more flexible and they seem to pick up riding quicker. Just don't compare yourself to others. Compare to yourself. Are YOU improving? That's what matters.

I reset from a blown posting trot by sitting a few beats then picking it up again. But I rode western for years so sitting a trot is more natural to me and easier than posting it. You may be better off bringing the horse to a walk then restarting if you're truly bouncing all over.

Posting has been one of the hardest things for me to learn. And I rode for 10 years when I was younger. It takes time. You sound like you are doing quite well for the level you are at. Just give it time and patience and you'll get it. Once it clicks, it clicks is what people keep telling me. You'll get there. Just don't get discouraged :)

Can you take hour long lessons? Or ride more than once a week? I struggled a lot more picking it up when I only took one lesson a week. Sorry I can't be more help!
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post #3 of 27 Old 09-25-2011, 06:35 PM
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Posting isn;t natural. It takes time to learn and make it feel natural. I totally remember how I would "catch" it for a few steps, then lose it, then it would all fall apart and I'd be bumped all over the place. This is just to say not to be discouraged; it WILL get easier!

As far as recoving the rythm, if you can do it without coming to a walk, all the better. But if you need the walk, then go for it . What does you instructor say?

When you "fall apart" balance wise, the trick is to NOT fall forward into the fetal position, thought this is what you will naturally want to do. IF you can try hard to sit up over your own pelvis , stay calm and try to find that rythm, maybe count out the steps and it might help you to find the rythm again. Once you go forward into the fetal position, you have basically "given up", so best to just start again.

Not to worry, it gets easier. Take some video now, because in a few months you'll laugh at it.
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post #4 of 27 Old 09-25-2011, 08:09 PM
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I'm a guy who started at 50. We're rare, but we do exist.

Anyways...posting isn't totally effortless, but it might not be as hard as some make it.

First, don't worry about diagonals. They only apply while in a turn, and it is OK to post on the wrong diagonal while learning the rhythm. When in a turn, posting on the correct diagonal makes it feel better for both you and the horse, but I'd save it for later.

Second, you let the horse's motion push you up. Then you apply a bit of pressure so you skip the first beat beat and return down with the second. If trotting is a two-beat rhythm, it is up with one, skip, come down with two, up with one, skip, down with two. For guys in particular, it should be a gentle thing. My 13 year old daughter, like most of the young girls I see, posts like a jack-in-the-box: way up, stand in the stirrups, then way down.

Think of your legs as shock absorbers. I like to ride with my stirrups as long as I can stomach, to the point it almost feels like I'm going to lose them. When I first started, I was told my toes went in the stirrup. That is wrong. Stand on flat ground and rise on your toes a bit. The center of the front of your foot will be your balance point, and THAT is what goes in the stirrup - and I like it on the forward edge of the stirrup. That makes it easier to keep your stirrups.

Why is this important? Because most guys have tight legs and hips. If we shorten the stirrups to our comfort zone, our legs & hips will never stretch out and get loose enough. Your tendons & ligaments, if they are like mine, are tight enough that the horse will read it as tension. Also, the tension will make you bounce more. Long term, it is the weight of your legs and the friction of your thighs that will keep you in the saddle.

And if you mostly stay in the saddle, then you won't be thrown as high by the horse's motion, and you won't have as far to come down, and it becomes less effort to post. Eventually, you should be able to post without stirrups - but I've been riding 3 years, and THAT is work.

I don't know if you are riding English or Western. I am an oddball here. I think it is better in the long run to learn to sit the trot first, and then learn posting. And no, I don't know how anyone learns to sit the trot in an English saddle. With a western saddle, you can always hold on to the horn while bouncing, until the bouncing loosens you up enough and your legs stretch enough that you pretty much stop bouncing. At least, bouncing high and uncontrollably!

I started English and was taught posting as a way to avoid bouncing the trot, which is how all sitting trots start for a guy over 25. And most guys under.

But a new rider relies on his stirrups for balance and staying on the horse. That is 100% wrong, but very few riders are given the option of riding without stirrups their first lesson.

In reality, your stability comes from letting the weight of your legs pull your butt into the saddle. Long legs lower your center of gravity, and the lower your CG, the harder it is to fall off when the horse freaks. Relaxed legs help absorb bounce and give the horse confidence that you are not scared. I think tension = fear in most horses' minds.

My riding sucked for two years because I tried to use the stirrups for my weight and crouched on the horse when we sent faster. That meant tense legs, more bounce, higher CG, perched up higher on the horse...all things that destroy your balance.

But posting, when you are starting, USES weight in the stirrups. In time, you won't - but I didn't learn how to just SIT in a saddle until I switched to a western/australian saddle and stopped posting and learned to settle my weight onto my butt. Over a period of time, that stretched my legs and hips, and now I can finally start riding with my seat and not my legs. And once a person can do that, it becomes easy to use the legs a little while posting without relying on them to carry you in the stirrups.

Gotta go...will try to explain it better later.

Good luck, and don't give up. It IS much harder to learn when older, but we have the advantage of then learning WHY we do things.
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post #5 of 27 Old 09-25-2011, 08:16 PM
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I just took an English lesson for the heck of it and discovered I'd much rather continue with my Western Pleasure. I grew up riding English and could post all day and 1/2 the night and never break a sweat......Yeah, well, 30 years ago anyway. NOT so much anymore, that posting was WORK! It does get better though, and yes, when it's right you do get tossed up by the beat and then sit down for the next one and you learn to be able to feel which hind foot is coming forward to tell you the diagonal and it all becomes 2nd nature. Honest!
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post #6 of 27 Old 09-25-2011, 08:22 PM
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bsms- perfect post. I have very little to add. I do have one thing to say, however.

I actually completely and 100% agree one one thing that you said made you 'odd'. I think that a sitting trot should be taught before the posting trot. Why? Once you've gotten into the habit of posting, (particularely if you are a beginner) you loose the flexibility of the stomache muscles as well as the ability to disengage your hips when you learn to post. Going from posting to sitting, your body automatically begins to 'block' moving, and stays very ridgid. This is what happened to me. I was taught to post from the beginning, and when I began learning to sit a trot, ride bareback, and canter- I was just about incapable of loosening enough to sit. It took me a shamefully long amount of time to learn to canter, for this reason.

OP- I say this because, if possible- I think it would be best for you to ask your instructor if you can learn to sit the trot. Not only will it help you develope the loose but controlled (a bit of an oxymoron, I know, but once you try- you'll understand what I mean) position needed for more advanced riding, but it will help you when learning to post because you will be able to balance, collect, and reinterate yourself when you get off of the rythem when posting. You'll be able to simply sit until you can feel the impulsions beneath you, then work of for those to establish your post.

I hope what I've said makes sense, and I wish you luck!
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post #7 of 27 Old 09-26-2011, 09:25 AM Thread Starter
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Oh wow thanks for all the tips. I know it can sometimes take a lot of time to type up long replies so I appreciate it. I'll have to read everything again and see what I can apply next session.

I guess what I meant was not totally "effortless" but whether it's not as much of a struggle if you're able to catch the bump up like an assist to get up.

My wife did take a video of my attempt to trot but I found this video on youtube that looks almost like my attempts. I go up then bump twice while down on the saddle, then up then bounce twice again, too slow to get back up to stay in sync with the count. I don't hold on to the pommel but I think she does on this one.

Somebody posted a tip in this video's comments to keep the hands somewhat forward of the saddle. I remember that the times when I was able to balance better and get in sync was when I did this.

I know I'll get it and that it's just like riding a bike. Something just has to click once. I thought it clicked a couple times in my last session but just had trouble maintaining it. I could reset properly. Most of the time there are one or two other riders in the ring with me that the instructor keeps an eye on. Then after the session there's a next group of kids to take lessons so I'm not able to do an after-action review or Q&A with my instructor.

She usually calls from across the ring to me to shout "keep your heels down". I know this but she sees me after I've blown the trot and having trouble recovering. She also tells me not to overthink it and just to concentrate on the up down up down motion. I need a little bit more info than that. She might be used to young kids who instinctively get it after a couple of sessions without too much explaining. For example she never explained the 1-2 1-2 1-2 beat to me. I learned that over the internet.

I'm not discouraged (yet), I just need more tips and inside info. I know that it's just a matter of developing the muscle memory for the right motions. My thighs are aching less and less too. It was hard for me to drive my stick shift car after a lesson. I ached working the gas, clutch, and brake pedals!

Thanks again all. I'm a sponge soaking in all your tips and wisdom :)
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post #8 of 27 Old 09-26-2011, 09:55 AM
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Some great advice you have here. Its not effortless but its not really building muscles either. You can get on a horse after years and still post naturally. Once you have it down you never really think about it. It's like learning how to drive a manual (stick shift) car.

It will come just keep trying. Sometimes I actually prefer to think as forward and back rather than up and down. Because of the angle of the leg you don't really rise "up" you rise forward. Maybe imagine your hips going forward and back with the strides. You don't have to get high out of the saddle, just a little. Also remember that rising doesn't come from the stirrups or the heels. If you are losing your heels when you lose time, perhaps your "heel" rising is part of your problem. People can rise without stirrups and bareback so focus less on rising out of your foot and more on rising with your thighs.
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post #9 of 27 Old 09-26-2011, 10:36 AM
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If the horse is smooth and your saddle is a good fit for both (meaning you stay very balanced) then I have to say yes, posting does feel effortless. At least to me. BUT it doesn't come overnight and indeed you need practice. BTW, posting is very hard when you are off-balance (whenever I have a saddle that doesn't fit me I have issues posting, or even seat the trot).

Welcome to the Forum, BTW! :)
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post #10 of 27 Old 09-26-2011, 11:31 AM
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The rider in the video you posted is posting too slowly for her horse, which is what is forcing her out of rhythm every few seconds. The key is learning to pay attention to which pair of legs (fore right, rear left, or fore left, rear right) you're moving to. The 1-2, 1-2, 1-2 beat that you're speaking of applies to both horse AND rider. On one, the first set of legs reach out on the horse, and you propell yourself up. On two, the second set of legs reach out and you sink down. If you feel like you've come out of sync with the horse, simple sit a '1-2' (so you'll feel bump-bump) then rise again on 1.

This is a fantastic video for beginners who are learning to jump.
The riders leg is in very poor position and moves a lot (it should be locked around the horse's barrel) but the fact that it goes in slow motion in both directions can potentially help you a lot when you're looking for that 1-2 beat. Up on one, down on two. Up, down. Up, down. Chant it if you must.

If you're legs are still not up to the constant impulsion that they must use, I'd advise in practicing while maintaining a walk. (your instructor might look at you funny, however!) This way you can put your full attention on the rhythm, and not worry about controlling the horse's speed (any well trained lesson horse has no problem with walking without breaking into a trot). doing 'squats' at home, might also help improve your muscle, using the same 1-2 beat.
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