Tips for sitting trot!
I have recently started showing in IHSA (college horse showing) and I love it! I'm in Novice for both Flat and Fences. I have no trouble with the fences section, but I never seem to do as well in the flat classes. I think it has a lot to do with my sitting trot; I'm horrible at it! I can only sit on the the smoothest of trots, otherwise I feel very loose and bouncy. Any tips for riding a successful sitting trot??
its not uncommon for people to struggle with the sitting trot. its something that you just have to master through practice. what a lot of people dont realize is its not just about sitting and making sure your butt doesnt leave the saddle. this is where you're core comes into play. if you can strength your core muscles, meaning your abs and back and yes even your butt, it will help with sitting the trot.
the trot isnt an up and down motion which is what everyone thinks it is. its more of a up and forward then back down motion. the reason for sitting the trot that makes it so rough is because we as riders tend to forget about that forward motion the horse does. sit on a chair and spread your legs like as if you were sitting on a horse. now imagine that youre horse is trotting and slightly push your hips up by tightening your abs like you're doing an ab crunch and squeeze your butt cheeks and forward then ease back down. now try going just up and down. do it a few times and you'll be able to tell the difference. when you do the forward motion your butt doesnt leave the chair compared to the up and down motion. plus the forward hip action is a lot less stress on your back compared to the up and down motion where you were coming down on a hard chair.
when sitting on a horse and doing this exercise just remeber to relax your thighs. we tend to grip and squeeze with our thighs thinking its going to help us stay in the saddle when in all reality it actually pushes us up out of it. just imagine that youre legs are like butter dripping down the horses side and let them realx and lay there. push your heels down as far you can go and when trotting just remember its like mini ab crunches with a forward hip motion. and sit up straight with your shoulders back. its all in the hips!
What I do is barely sit in the saddle, and drop all my weight into my stirrups. It makes it so I'm sitting, but not bouncing all over the place. I'm not sure if thats bad, but my trainer never says its wrong. :)
Tighten your core and loosen your pelvis! Use your pelvis as a shock absorber and anticipate the motion, almost like your posting in place. Find a good video of a dressage rider sitting an extended trot. You will see their pelvis thrust forward with the motion.
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This is my favorite video on riding. It is from a western perspective, but the advice works for me when I use my English saddle (and Aussie-style, and western). Although it is specifically about cantering, the same principle applies to sitting the trot.
I originally tried to sit the trot by just using weight. That worked with a mild jog from a horse, but not for a more aggressive trot and certainly not for a canter. Matching the movement of the horse's back with your hips is a MUCH better way of sitting the trot. The horse appreciates it too!
In hunter`s it`s especially difficult because they do tend to ride in a shorter stirrup, half for making it easier to jump and the other half cause it looks `pretty`. keep in mind the short your stirrup, the more of your leg you render useless. try letting them down a hole or two before anything else. if someone has a dressage saddle you can borrow, DO IT. The saddle almost shows you the movement to make and lets you feel how the horse is moving underneath you far better than any close contact saddle. Relax your knees, grip with your inner upper thigh, sit back on your pelvis and try to let it come naturally, feeling as though you`re an extension of your horse. Once you master it, you`ll love it more than you ever did posting as you have so much more contact and control of your horses.
You will never sit the trot well with stirrups until you've put in the time riding without stirrups. You said nothing about your horse. IF you have a relaxed, laid back horse you can practice all gaits without stirrups. If not, try to find a horse like that, or even take a few beginner lessons on a child-safe horse and ride the lesson without stirrups.
(This is what they do for beginner pointe ballet students. They are put back in the first level classes to learn point slowly.)
You have to get really tired for the right feel to weighted heels. I can sit anybody's bouncy trot NOW, after 28 years of owning my own horses and riding several very big strided geldings. It is essential for your seat that you master this. It becomes very difficult to unseat you after learning this, so it's worth the time.
Spend at least the walking cool part of your workout by dropping your stirrups and you will begin to get it.
That horse, as much as the trot looks huge and terribly difficult to ride, actually has that nice supple back that with the right amount of core strength sucks you right into the tack. On my horse I actually find his extensions easier to ride than his collected trot because there is greater impulsion and his back becomes more supple with that.
Anyways, I like Lydia's explanation quite a bit. I actually find the most difficult thing in the sitting trot is dealing with the stirrups. Start without stirrups (but keep your toes up) and get your pelvis going in the right way. Then, start with longish stirrups and try to keep your knees and ankles relaxed that they can absorb the motion, and keep your legs in a barrel shape that they may also accordion outwards in the downward part of the stride. Slowly shorten the stirrups to your normal length and then you should be set.
The key is the core in any sitting trot, but keeping your pelvis soft and able to follow the horse.
Just go with the bounce. Sit up tall. Relax. Don't be stiff. Put the weight in your heels and hands up.
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