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Hello!

I have been riding hunt seat for three years and am just now starting to learn to sit the trot. The delay is because I had been riding a very bouncy, jaunty, uncomfortable OTTB (in my avatar and my "barn") and was just concentrating on different aspects of riding. Now that I've switched barns I'm riding a QH with more normal gaits (English gaits - not a western jog).

I was hoping for some advice or tips to help me learn to sit the trot. I have done some research on it so I know that I have to move my hips in such a way that I will rise and come down at the same rate as the horse... but how? lol please help!

Thank you
 

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The only way I can describe it is to disconnect all the vertebrae in your back from each other and your pelvis, ie your pelvis must be able to move independent of your back. Any tension in your back will result in tension in the pelvis. The pelvis should be able to move side to side and tip forward and back. This allows your body to follow the horse's movement. When you cantered the OTTB did your pelvis roll with the action?
 

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I thought I was pretty good at sitting the trot, until I started on my short, green, qh. LOL!

Really have to focus hard on keeping relaxed and letting my hips tilt from side to side like saddlebags said, and it's still not pretty yet. Good luck!
 

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You have to be very very loose and relaxed through your back and hips. This doesn't mean flop around and get slouchy, but you have to really let yourself move with the horse.

This may or may not help, but I visualize my pelvis as a large bowl filled with jello or spaghetti, something that would bounce but not spill easy like soup. You want to go with the motion of the horse to keep that bowl from spilling. If you tense up you'll bounce and spill your spaghetti, but if you relax, let your legs hang long and wrap around the horse, and let your spine and hips move naturally, you'll keep it all in the bowl. Kind of silly but it helps me to think like that. :lol:

Another thing that helped me was to ride without stirrups. Even at the walk at first. It really gets you moving along with the horse, and when you start the sitting trot without stirrups, you don't have something to brace your feet against.
 

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So what helped me was reading a tip from someone to put my hand on my lower back (just sitting here at the computer is fine), and that's the part of your back that has to flex with the movement.

Also something that really helped last time I rode was completely unplanned. I was unbalanced in the saddle so my instructor had me ride the walk with my feet out of my stirrups. Once I put my feet back and went back to the trot, I had completely melted into the saddle from the work without stirrups and just flowed right into the trot movement.

Also make sure you aren't falling forward!

Also stretch up to the sky with your upper body and down to the ground with your lower body. Lengthening everything out lets you isolate the movements in those parts of your body.

When I do get the movement it feels just like a carousel horse. A gentle up and down.

I ride a dressage horse so I feel you on the struggle :p
 

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i was told to try in visualize and make yourself in sync with the "down" part of the horse's motions. it's easy to feel the 'up' part, but the up part is where you are born up . the down part is where you can "leave" the rythm of the horse and get out of sync. if you don't go down as fast as the horse's back, your up/down syne wave will soon be out of sync with the horse's syne wave, and you'll be going down when he is going up.

so, if you mentally look for the down part, and really think of going down with him, and think of the front of your pelvis as following that saddle down as if glued to it ( and this requires actual work from your tummy muslces) , you'll be going down when he does, not a milisecond behind him.

in the end, it takes time and practice to get it. I can only sit the trot for short periods of time, but that's becuae my lower back is messed up and cannot stay loose enough to follow the motion very well.
 

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can you balance enough to ride bareback ? if so jump on up start at a walk , then trot.
dont hang on the horses head with the reins. start at a slower trot then the extended trot.
If you are female and busty, then get a minimizing sport bra to stop the additional bounce.
 

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Several posters have already mentioned some very useful advice when trying to sit a trot.

Relaxation is very important. This relaxation is not a laziness but a release of unnecessary tension in the muscles throughout your body. While some tension is necessary to prevent uncontrolled bouncing around, any greater tension restricts movement and slows reaction time when trying to make the small adjustments necessary to keep your body in sync with the movements of your horse.

It is common to think of the trot as primarily and up and down movement, but there is much more involved. There is side to side motion, forward motion, rolling and rocking motion. How can you follow all of these different movements? Simply free up your muscles and joints and “allow” your body – particularly your pelvis – to move as you think of balancing your head above your feet.

If you release tension in the muscles throughout your pelvis and legs, your seat should settle deeply into your saddle as your legs wrap around your horse’s body, adhering without muscular squeezing. Riding without stirrups often helps riders develop this feel. Riding bareback can also often help a rider develop this feel. As you relax the muscles throughout your pelvis, legs, and feet, your center of gravity sinks lower. Lower stirrups should also help in this regard. A lower center of gravity makes your seat more stable and should help you relax even more.

A bonus to all this is that the horse will generally release tension in its muscles in response to the release of tension in the rider’s muscles. As the horse releases tension in its muscles, its movements become softer and smoother. The horse’s relaxed muscles begin to absorb more of the impact when its feet strike the ground and the rider experiences less of a jolt.

This seldom happens all at once. As you continue to think of and practice these techniques, you should begin to feel the sitting trot become more comfortable. This, in turn, should encourage you to practice the techniques even more.
 

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FWIW: If I try to sit the trot with a short stirrup, I suck.

I normally ride western now. If I use a long leg, sitting a trot just feels good. I ride a bouncy canter better with a longer stirrup, too.

I don't consciously brace, but that seems to be the most logical explanation of why I feel comfortable sitting a trot with long stirrups, but awkward as all get out with shorter ones.
 

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Visualizing helps, and working on your core muscles off of the horse helps too.

A rising trot is using the horse's impulsion to post. When you sit the trot, you have to work against that impulsion by engaging your core to stay "down" and instead channel it forward through your swinging pelvis.

You never want to force your body to swing, you have to find the right balance between relaxed and engaged.

I'm not telling you to just tighten your core and hang on, but if you think "I'm melting into my horse, stretching your legs down, using your core (as you would if say, your car made a hard stop so your body stayed upright instead of being thrown around like a ragdoll) then it'll come easier.

The best way I found to learn was post the trot, and sit two beats and go back to posting. When those two beats seem to happen more fluidly, then sit for 3 beats.

When you have warmed up properly, take your feet out of your stirrups, cross your irons over the horse's neck so they aren't floppy or in your way, and do lots of walking, and if you are brave pick up trot for literally 5 seconds, and go back to lots of walking.

Eventually your body will use different muscles to stay balanced with no stirrups, and those are the muscles that will allow you to sit the trot.

Just a side note, you cannot sit the trot of a horse that is stiff. They need to be soft and allowing or not only will it be a very bumpy ride, but it'll also hurt their backs.
 

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Make yourself "long." Relax your legs and your back--sink down into your heels and stretch up from your bellybutton.
I like to think of my hips as shock absorbers...

Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Wow thank you all for the great advice!

When I tried sitting the trot at my last lesson, I found myself squeezing with my legs and tensing my core and back, which resulted in a semi-half seat. I'm sure it did not look pretty!

I think stirrupless work will help me relax into the saddle like some of you said. My next lesson is on Saturday so we'll see how it goes!
 
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I ride my QH who has a nice smooth gaits and very slow like pleasure but he extends it and he can move out! anyways i learned on him as hes smooth (plus ive been riding bareback for the past 2 years!) i learned to let my lower back move with him along with my pelvis. i moved to my paint with a big trot and just moved with him and not be all stiff! my Pinto has a very bouncy trot from very slow Piaffe to extended trot!
 

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if your horse is particularly hard to sit, you should definitely give yourself every advantage in the world and ask for a slow trot.

Stirrupless trotting really helped me, gravity forced me to stay in the seat and i learned to wiggle. sit tall on your pockets with your back straight and let the hips and butt wiggle with the horse :)

I've had a lot of improvement over time - but still some days i get it better than others (and how the horse is trotting always has something to do with it as well!)
 
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I ride a horse with a bouncy trot as well so I feel your pain. I've really had to work on my sitting trot and now place high in EQ classes because of it.

The key is in the heels. I know I am going to butcher the explanation so I am going to let the pros do it. This is a very helpful video from a Grand Prix dressage rider, hope it helps!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aJDDimNc6yE
 

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I think the biggest misconception people get when they watch others who are sitting the trot is that they are sitting absolutely stock still, so they brace against the horse instead of moving with the horse. If you look at the video Willow posted and just focus on her lower back, you can see that the lower half of her torso is moving around like crazy but it doesn't really look it because she is moving with her horse.
 

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I mastered this by accident once when I was practicing cantering without stirrups and my normally sweet horse developed a sense of humor and decided trotting around and refusing to stop would be more fun. It was either sit it or fall off. I tried posting unsuccessfully, bounced around for awhile and then resigned myself to falling off. I let got of all tension to prepare myself for a nice tuck and roll when suddenly my upper thighs started functioning independently of each other and it all fell into place. As each front leg of my horse came forward, the corresponding thigh/hip on me would follow it. I realized it was not an up/down motion but more of a forward/down hip motion. It feels a little like what happens when you're walking without stirrups. As the belly moves away, the hip on that side goes down with it.
 
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