Join Date: Oct 2013
Location: I'm an American girl living in southwest France
I have been taking lessons for a few months and this is what my instructor has me do. Now I can sit the trot with no stirrups and my arms out to the sides hanging onto nothing. BTW, I ride English, but I think you could adapt this to Western. I'm also 44 and overweight, so if I can do it, anyone can!
1. Loosen the reins so you don't accidentally jerk on the horse's mouth.
2. Hold onto the saddle pad in front of the saddle with both hands. (It will be a death grip in the beginning and that's okay). Also hold the reins in there and a crop if you use one.
3. Lean way back in the saddle. Like waaaaay back. Like you're in a recliner. It will look a little silly, but this forces you to find those seat bones.
4. Breathe in and out, very relaxed. Don't freeze up. Keep breathing all the way around the ring.
5. Don't grip the horse with your legs. Leaves them loose, your feet and calves near the girth, just lightly touching the horse. Resist the urge to grip there. Your horse might freak out.
6. Relax those butt muscles. Don't tighten them up! Tight = bouncing.
Round and round you go, both directions. If you feel it getting too bouncy, lean back more. Do NOT tense up your butt muscles.
Once you can do this, practice holding first one hand out to the side (put the reins in the opposite hand temporarily), and then the other.
Once you can do one hand out at a time, drop the reins on the horse's neck (they need to be tied or buckled together), and put both arms out to the side. Go at least one rotation around your ring like this, both directions. You'll look like an airplane!
I swear this works. Just be patient with yourself. It took me many lessons to feel comfortable doing this, and sometimes it's 2 steps forward, 1 step back type of advancement.
ETA: Oh, and the other poster who suggested doing posting trot without stirrups, that's GOLDEN. That's also something my instructor has me do. It really gets you into the rhythm of the horse. You can alternate, some strides posting trot, some seated. Anytime it gets too bouncy, switch back to posting. You don't need stirrups to post.
ETA2: After you are really comfortable, you won't have to hold that saddle pad anymore. That's just to get comfy first. Let go when you feel comfortable doing so.
Oh, and to move from trot to walk, you have to first let go of that saddle pad, gather the reins tighter, and then stop. Otherwise, your reins will be too long and you'll give the horse a sore mouth. :)
Last edited by ecasey; 11-28-2013 at 08:40 PM.