Join Date: Oct 2013
Location: I'm an American girl living in southwest France
I just "mastered" the sitting trot. Yay. Here is the technique my trainer taught me:
1. Keep your feet very light in the stirrups (it actually helps to use none because too much pressure on your feet encourages bouncing in newbies).
2. With the reins in hand, grab the horn if riding Western or saddle pad if riding English, and lean waaaay back in the saddle. This is to encourage a very deep seat. It's not "proper" riding posture; it's just there for training purposes and temporary. It really works, I promise, and it doesn't develop bad habits. It's actually safer and nicer for the horse's back too than a person banging away in the saddle.
3. Breathe in and out regularly. It's normal to hold your breath when you're stressed.
4. If you're still bouncing, lean back more.
5. Relax those butt muscles.
6. Keep your eyes looking out far. "Soft eyes", looking in the general direction where you want the horse to go, not laser-focused on one thing out in front. Definitely don't look at the ground below you or the horse's neck. It can throw off your balance.
7. After you're comfy and balanced doing this, practice letting go of the reins with one hand and holding that arm out laterally, for about 50 beats (horse steps). Then reverse and do the other arm. Then drop both reins and do both arms (harder). Once you can do the seated trot (with no stirrups) with both arms out to the sides comfortably, you know you have decent balance.
8. Do the seated trot without stirrups. Also practice putting your feet in and then out of the stirrups while the horse maintains the trot. You will learn that if you don't do it keeping your seat and balance, your horse will pick up the cues and stop. It's a delicate balance to sending the go signal while also messing around with the stirrups.
9. Make sure to do both directions around the riding ring/arena every time, so you don't get to leaning one side or the other and so your horse doesn't get stiff. Plus you'll find it's easier sometimes going one direction or the other due to the horse just naturally preferring one side over the other, so being good when it's tough is good practice.
10. After you've done a ton of miles with these exercises, you'll be able to sit up in a normal position, have your feet in the stirrups, and actually feel the rhythm of the horse that you can ride the trot to. Before then, I wouldn't worry about the rhythm.
“When I bestride him, I soar, I am a hawk: he trots the air; the earth sings when he touches it; the basest horn of his hoof is more musical than the pipe of Hermes. ” ~ William Shakespeare