View Full Version : I've tried and tried.... HOW DO I SIT THE TROT!

Sep. 18, 2009, 11:20 AM
Always done hunter-jumping, but somewhere along the way I've progressed without learning such a basic fundamental- the sitting trot.
I know it's me because I've seen many people sit the trot on my horse.

I put her in a circle at a steady, slow pace. try to sit on my seat bone, try to relax, try to breath, yet i bob, jiggle, shake, rattle and roll. Pretty embaressing that i can't do this. HELP!!

Someone told me you need to round your back while keeping your legs long.. is this right, does this make sense. Someone else told me your ankles should bob as you put the weight out of your stirrups and into your seat. Does that make sense..

Whatever I'm doing it's not working and I need to figure this out!

Sep. 18, 2009, 11:27 AM
My suggestion is, don't try to sit the trot, get your horse more collected and more supple instead, then you won't have a problem sitting the trot... At least that was my experience... When we started to school 2nd level and I was able to get my horse supple, collected, and raise his back, sitting trot was like a breeze. I did not have to try at all... It just happened... Actually there was a feeling that it was more comfortable sitting than posting... Or offer more control sitting than posting... Now before that, it was like jack hammer trying to sit there....

Sep. 18, 2009, 11:45 AM
You really need to develop you seat and hands independently - find someone who can give you good lunge lessons.

Sep. 18, 2009, 11:51 AM
I wouldn't think "round my back". I think "sit back on my seatbones, lean back". A lot of times when you feel like you're leaning back, you're actually sitting up straight and when you're learning...it can't hurt to exaggerate it a bit anyway till you get it. I also have to think about moving my hips with his movement. It's not just sitting down in the saddle, you have to work to move your hips in a sort of (I don't know how to describe it) rowing motion with the horse's movement.


I feel like I get more control sitting too because I can really drive them with my seat.

Sep. 18, 2009, 11:52 AM
I agree about lunge lessons. I think it is next to impossible to simultaneously learn to use your body properly to sit the trot while also focusing on all the other stuff. I love lunge lessons.

Sep. 18, 2009, 11:56 AM
this was all really helpful... a few people have told me to make my back look like a "D" (rounded) and not a "C" (hollow)... some say round back and other say sit up strait.. and still confused if weight belongs in heals or seat....

Sep. 18, 2009, 12:00 PM
One of the best helpful hints I ever got (from an R-judge) was to unlock my shoulders and let them help absorb some of the bounce (from my big-moving 17 H warmblood). Try it; it helps.

Sep. 18, 2009, 12:01 PM
Someone told me you need to round your back while keeping your legs long.. is this right, does this make sense.

NO - most definitely not.

Get a hula-hoop! Stand on the ground in good upright posture with your feet the same distance apart as, and under your shoulders. Make the hula hoop go round and stay up whilst you are standing tall and balanced. THAT is the kind of flexibility you need when sitting balanced on your horse (although not quite that amount of movement). You have to relax your body below the waist and carry the part above the waist in order to leave the waist area as flexible as possible. Your backbone can only do that if it is straight and long. Weight belongs in seat, thigh and leg. I think the worst thing for an H/J rider to do is to loosen the thigh and leg. Unfortunately you won't do that until you can follow the movement with your seat.

You can find the part that you need to sit on with a very simple exercise. Go and sit on the top board of a fence with your arms and legs on the same side. Gradually remove your arms and legs and balance on your seat alone. That is where your centre of balance should be on your horse.

Sep. 18, 2009, 12:03 PM
I agree with the "sit on seatbones and lean back" comment, especially while trying to get the feel. I really have to concentrate on using my ab muscles as well, and back, to absorb the motion. I find when I'm sitting I really concentrate on letting my legs melt ("like butter" my trainer says) and focus on the weight being in my core. Your legs have to truly relax while your core does the work. I try to think of having my seatbones stay "stuck" to his back, that seems to help me follow the movement as well. Depending on the day and the trot I find that my focus changes - sometimes it feels like my seatbones/hips are really working on following, others (usually on a more balanced trot from him) I'm more aware of my abs/lower back working to absorb the motion.

I also try to concentrate on lifting the ribcage and keeping my shoulders up and back and solid, and sometimes really have to concentrate on keeping my arms/elbows/hands steady, as they can get a little floppy when I'm concentrating too much. It's a lot to think about - long and relaxed leg, tall and solid upper body and arms, while the core area is engaged and working.

I'm pretty visual, so I have found it helps me a lot to watch other riders that have good sit trots, and watch how their muscles work to absorb the motion. Then I try to emulate that. :)

Sep. 18, 2009, 12:03 PM
I would also second longe lessons; and if you cannot afford it, then have a friend longe you so that you don't need to worry about steering, pace, etc whilst sorting out developing a seat.

Also, check saddle fit (for you!) and play around with stirrup length. Both of those things can really impact a rider's ability to sit properly. What about no stirrups? Without something to brace on many people sit a lot better. I had a coach who said that at first people always needed stirrups, then they get to a point where they sit better without them, and finally they get to the point where it does not matter if they have them or not. Maybe you are in phase two!

That said, this is what I would recommend for your regular schooling. As you are riding at the walk, try to sit nice and tall and directly over your seat bones--sit on your pockets, in other words. Close your eyes, be soft in the middle, and just walk along letting the horse roll one seat bone and then the other with her stride. Be sure your hands are quietly following the bob of her head, with flexed elbows, soft wrists, and a relaxed shoulder. Once you feel very soft and following, hold your core muscles, stop your seat and sink it down, slightly close your leg, and stop following with your hands. Your mare should halt. If she doesn't, make sure you are holding the core and stopping the seat, lighten the leg, and close your fingers on the reins if needed. Once she has halted, soften up but don't send her forward. From a nice halt, lift your abdomen slightly, tucking your seatbones a little under you so that you are lifting your crotch and pushing slightly with your seat, give a little forward with your hand without throwing away your contact, and then if needed add some leg to step her out into a nice walk.

Once you've got your seat working nicely for you at this sort of soft walk and whoa exercise, you should feel a lot more aware of your horse's back and your balance on it. Now you can start adding a few trot steps. From the walk, do basically what you did for going from the whoa to the walk--lift, press a little forward with the seat, close leg, and ask for an easy trot. It will be easier to sit the trot if you are stepping up from being really well seated at the walk--if you are a little forked in your walk seat, tight in your body, or not really with the motion, obviously it will be harder to step into a balanced sit trot. Now, for sitting the actual trot, I like to think of bouncing a beach ball from my navel to my nose. You want to sit up straight, but you need to be soft so that your hip can curl forward and slightly up with the motion of the trot. You don't want to WORK at it, you just want to move with the amount of thrust that the horse gives with her natural step. You need to be strong but soft in your core for a good sitting trot--tight and tense means bouncing. Just trot a few steps, then transition back to walk before things get all crappy. From there, build it--if you can go five quiet steps, do that a few times and then do six. And so on.

Another thing you can do is sit a few, post a few while you are working in trot. Once you really start bouncing, your horse will brace her back and it will be ugly for both of you, so one key is to keep the sit trots short enough that you can start to develop a feel without sailing to the point of tense and choppy.

Do you have any hills? A good sitting trot up a long hill can really help, since the slope of the hill helps you stay where you ought to be and the horse gets a good thrusting trot at the same time. I thought I had a trot seat until one hard to sit mare (since I had two GP riders who worked her say "my, this isn't easy, it is?" I didn't feel THAT bad about my struggle) and sit trotting up hills was one of the keys to my finally sorting out how to sit her without it disturbing her movement or my effectiveness.

Good luck.

Sep. 18, 2009, 12:17 PM
I think most riders actually sit the trot better without stirrups, as it helps them open the hips and drop their weight down around the leg instead of bracing against the stirrup. Once you've got that weight down your leg and around your horse, its easier to work the abs and lower back to move with the horse.

Sep. 18, 2009, 12:21 PM
If you are comfortable riding bareback it is a great way to find your seat. Lunge lessons are another great way to learn how to use your body parts independently. Good luck. It will work out but just takes time to find your balance and get a good seat.

Sep. 18, 2009, 12:51 PM
Longe lessons, and understanding that the sitting trot takes active pelvic motion forward.

A good instructor can help talk you through it.

Sep. 18, 2009, 12:58 PM
I will mention something else that helps me (with my posture in general) is to think about squeezing a grapefruit with my shoulder blades. I have a bad habit of rounding my shoulders forward but when I do this, my shoulders go back, my back is straight, and everything seems to just "work" better.

Sep. 18, 2009, 12:59 PM
Longe lessons and learn to free up your hips to go with the rhythm of your horse. When we started to do the extended trot, my trainer also put a grab strap on my saddle. My horse had a big trot and before I could get into her rhythm, I'd feel like I was going to bounce out of the saddle. That might help a bit for when you feel insecure. Mainly it takes time and practice.

As suggested, riding bareback, if you feel steady enough, is great for getting a feel.

Sep. 18, 2009, 01:22 PM
As someone else suggested it can be very helpful to just sit/post/sit/post. Start by changing your post every few strides. Then sit one-two-three and post again. Just keep adding a few strides at a time, returning to posting frequently.

You can hold the front of the saddle with your outside hand to help stabilize yourself at first. You really have to be relaxed, and if you are used to sitting very forward, it will feel like you are leaning back. Your upper body has to float, and your hips and thighs absorb the motion.

Someone else on COTH I think once said to feel the horse's hind legs - left right left right...

Lunge lessons are the best, but if you don't have someone to hold the rope, you can work on it in increments on your own.

Sep. 18, 2009, 03:25 PM
The only way to learn how to sit the trot is to have somebody on the ground to lunge your horse and you to take your stirrups off. If you feel safe, you can let go of your reins and hold onto the pommel of the saddle to keep you balance. Describing what the sitting trot should feel like doesn't help with learning how to do it. It is one of those things you just have to do for yourself. Make sure your legs are long, you can point your toes to the ground if it is easier and try to move from your hips like your a belly dancer :lol: Keep your back straight and make sure you're not just collapsing your core and that your head stays as still as possible (being a bobble head is very unattractive) Doing crunches and sit-ups out of the saddle will help too. Good Luck :D

Sep. 18, 2009, 03:26 PM
I am by no means whatsoever good at sitting trot yet...just started riding dressage.

BUT...was reading a book that made it make sense to me...."bracing the back" as if you were on a swing and pumping.

Mary in Area 1
Sep. 18, 2009, 03:48 PM
Are you a person who learns by watching, by feeling, or by researching? I ask because it makes a difference how to explain it to you. I have spent years riding dressage up to 4th level, and I never REALLY understood how to sit the trot until I red Syliva Loch's book The Classical Seat, and Riding in Balance.

For YEARS I was told to sit up, sit back, lean back on my seatbones, make my back a D, etc. NONE of this worked for me. In fact, most of this was absolutely the opposite of what I needed to do. Now, maybe if you are a hunter rider and lean WAY forward on your crotch, then yes, you need to sit up. But basically, leaning back is the easiest way to bounce on your seatbones.

In a nutshell, to feel the triangle of support you must sit on, sit on your horse at a halt and pull your legs in FRONT of the knee flaps. You will be aware of your seatbones protruding down and your pelvic arch. THAT is the base of support for all dressage work.

Now, put your legs back down and feel your long thigh bones against the flaps of the saddle. If you have big thigh muscles, or "fluff", pull this back behind your leg so you can feel the saddle right against the thigh bone. Those are your stablizers side to side.

The lower part of your leg hangs gently at the side and is available for leg aids.

Above the triangular base of support, your back (meaning spine) needs to be in a slight "S" shape in order to have the ability to absorb the movement. There needs to be a slight arch in your lower back, stretch tall, feel the pelvic arch in contact with the area behind the pommel. The shoulders are up and back, but everything is just vertically plumb, NOT leaning back at all. Upper-level riders occasionally lean back or LOOK like they are leaning back because of the relative lift of the shoulders, but don't START that way.

Now, when you trot, your horse HAS to have his back up and loose for you to sit on it. If he is hollow, it is not worth trying, and you will only exacerbate the problem. If he is in front of your leg, on the bit and supple, then lower your triangle area onto the saddle and think of a "back-pedaling" motion with your hips. That is the closest motion I have found to the real feeling. Do not try to be still, try to pull the back up with your thigh bones and then push it down with your triangle.

Riding without stirrups helps, but only if you are not terrified. Otherwise your legs act like a clothespin and pop you out of the saddle by gripping so hard.

I have a large-ish butt and have to actually think of having my butt stick out behind me like a duck. It doesn't LOOK that way, but that's the way it feels if I'm in the right position.

As far as the "D" shape goes, I think the shape is actually backwards. I think your back is the straight part of the D, and your belly is the rounded, soft part. I've been told for so many years to suck in my gut, it was hard for me to relax and feel my abs absorb the motion. You just can't do it easily when you are tensing your abs and psoas. (I think that is what they are called.)

Anyway, as you can tell, I'm really into the "seat" thing right now, but it has really transformed my riding. It is worth the effort to figure it all out.

Good luck!

Sep. 18, 2009, 04:24 PM
What worked best for me was riding on the lunge with my eyes closed without stirrups. Once I closed my eyes, i could really feel what the horse was doing and was able to relax my hips/legs/seat to the point that I was really sitting into the saddle going WITH the movement of the horse. It helps to have a strong core as well.

Sep. 18, 2009, 05:38 PM
without knowing ur training style ;)

start in the walk and really try and feel your horses steps. You can feel your seatbones move independently and you're legs should be relaxed so your horses barrel moves ur legs one at a time (note that every time ur leg is pushed away from the barrel that is the same hind leg that is pushing... i think lol). this feel was really important for me.

Once ur in the trot, start slow (dropping ur stirrups will definantely help the feel you need to get)... not collected or even shortened, just slow. Relax everything in ur body, and feel the trot, feel your seatbones moving independent (left then right then left then right). keep as relaxed as you can and let ur legs just hang feeling the slight L then R in your legs.

This is what i ended up doing to sit a trot (big drafty/stb trot at that!) i sat on that poor horse like a bag of potatoes learning to feel how my horses body influenced my body, and as it made sense... learn how my body can influence my horse. And as you get stronger, you can let ur horse actually move in the trot.

Just another take and tidbits that really helped me.... Feel ur horse thru ur seat and just relax :yes:

Sep. 18, 2009, 05:57 PM
Hunters really press down into their heels which makes your leg muscles rigid and that in turn will bounce you out of the saddle.

Also look at yourself in the mirror (if you can, have someone look at you if you can't) and tell you how you're sitting -
behind the vertical?
Straight up and down (think of standing up in saddle except don't put any push down on the stirrups)
Leaning forward?

Then adjust yourself to appear to you/person on ground to be straight up and down. If you still bounce then without moving upper body try rocking back on your butt a bit more. Does that help?

Above all do NOT tense. If you feel like you're ready to fall off have a grab strap around horses neck and pull your body into the saddle. Better done if someone else is handling horse (i.e. lunging).

Sep. 18, 2009, 05:58 PM

Sep. 18, 2009, 06:26 PM
"I put her in a circle at a steady, slow pace. try to sit on my seat bone, try to relax, try to breath, yet i bob, jiggle, shake, rattle and roll. Pretty embaressing that i can't do this. HELP!!

Someone told me you need to round your back while keeping your legs long.. is this right, does this make sense. Someone else told me your ankles should bob as you put the weight out of your stirrups and into your seat. Does that make sense.."

The above would not be a good way to learn to sit the trot. Especially not rounding your back, 'sitting on your pockets', 'rolling your hips under', etc. That turns you into a bowling ball in the saddle, and bowling balls don't have shock absorbers, they just bang up and down. Your body only absorbs the motion if your back is in a normal position, and relaxed.

Don't TRY to do anything, don't TRY to make circles with your hips, don't TRY to rolll your hips under, just sit on the horse and relax and let yourself be moved.

Not sure what your seat 'bone' is. There are two bony points toward the back of your 'sit', and there is the front of your 'sit' that's near the pommel. Your weight should be evenly distributed - not too much on the front, not too much on the back of your 'sit'.

I am not sure why you expect to learn to sit the trot without 'bobbing', and 'jiggling'. That is normal. First you have to get loose and relaxed, then you worry about making it a little more smooth or elegant looking. If you try to do that too soon, before you're really loose and soft, it won't work.

You should be TRYING to flop and be loose and bounce up and down. Stop trying not to do that. Relax about it. Never worry about what you look like or what people think.

Many people who ride hunt seat don't learn to sit the trot. As a hunt seat rider, you may have spent a long time in a hunt seat position, with a firmly braced lower leg and ankle, toes turned out, heels pushed way down, and ankle c0cked. Even at the walk and trot the position isn't designed for sitting the trot. That is great for galloping and jumping, but interferes with sitting the trot.

The first thing is to loosen up. Drop your stirrups, loosen your leg up completely, drop your toes down if it helps, and try to get the side of your leg next to the horse, instead of the back of your leg. Let go your ankle and let everything move. I'm not sure who said this, maybe Bill Bond...'try to find the saddle with your a**', LOL. In other words, many people tend to hover over the saddle, or push themselves back up on the cantle away from the deepest point of the seat of the saddle, because they stiffen and brace in the stirrups. So 'try to find the saddle with your a**', LOL. The 'sit like a jockey' exercise can help if you really bring your knees way up above the saddle so they meet.

Don't slow down your horse, not if you want to sit the trot for dressage. It makes it harder to sit, more 'lumpy' and more 'two piece' than one single rhythm, and it avoids the most important thing, which is to get so you don't CARE if you bounce around, you just relax and go with it and get down into the saddle, instead of ontop of it.

I do miss the days of hunt seat riding, but 'back in the day', we spent an awful lot of time learning to sit the trot, riding without stirrups, and jumping without stirrups and without reins and being longed, and well, doing exercises that today are considered 'only for dressage'. AH....back in the caveman days.

DressageGeek "Ribbon Ho"
Sep. 18, 2009, 07:56 PM
I like what Mary in Area 1 said about the horse, and as someone who is working on the same issues, here's my advice.

(1) it is not going to happen overnight. It is going to require truly building your core strength, and increasing your suppleness. You want to move with, and direct, the horse's energy. You can't brace, you can't really absorb, you have to direct the flow. So you're really in the middle of the whole shebang, but it's like a flowing river, and you want to gently direct the course, not send the water splashing over the edge (and maybe drowning yourself in the process). Pilates. Yoga. Whatever it takes. Your core must absolutely be independent of your arms and legs - they are aids, but they can't be the ones running the show. And they can't be blocking or inhibiting your horse's movement or that will cause your horse to hollow and brace.

(2) Speaking of horse. Your horse needs to be in the same boat (to keep the river analogy). His core should be strong, he needs to be supple. If there is resistance, it's going to be be-boing, be-boing, and you don't want that.

The funny thing is, people think that there's no movement - "Oh, look how quiet her leg/hands/whatever are!" - but in fact, there's a lot of movement. It's just movement in sync with the horse, and it's not huge.

(3) Breathe. Really. It helps the flow.

Sep. 18, 2009, 10:32 PM
Are you trying to sit the trot on a forward seat saddle?

Sep. 19, 2009, 12:02 AM
It isn't possible if your horse isn't round with his back up. I suffered through trying to do sit trot on a horse who wasn't read to carry me in a sit trot. It feels absolutely awful! It also hurts both of you and the horse becomes even less enthused with it.

Please, do it only on a round horse who is strong enough for the exercise. Lots of transitions will help to get the hindquarters under. When the horse is right, you will feel like you are sucked into the sitting trot because it is easier to do. Strange, I know! You will be able to feel the wither and ribcage rise and the barrel completely change shape. It may only last a couple of strides, so go back to posting when you have lost the feeling. It is hard for the horse to maintain the shape at the beginning. Give both of you lots of praise, both of you suck on sugar and lots of pats all around...

Carol Ames
Sep. 19, 2009, 12:27 AM
Start with walk and the following seat; then move into trot but, only for a few strides 3-4, remembering alternating sides:yes:; then do the three seats at the trot exercise; You can read about them in the books:yes: but, you really need someone to put their hands on you to help you feel your body:cool:; and give you suitable directives:winkgrin:

Sep. 19, 2009, 12:42 AM
core strenth...core strength....core strength

I know it sounds like 'have faith' or 'think positively'....it's not a 'concept'

It is a fitness issue....I never knew I had it until I lost it and had to get it back again...

Go to the gym...get a good (not nice!) personal trainer...learn to use your body...your horse will thank you and you will get sooo much more out of your riding than you ever thought possible :)

Sep. 19, 2009, 01:12 AM
i am sure this was mentioned.... but unless you have a super comfy horse with a smooooth trot, you wont be able to sit no matter how hard you try until your horse is working more or less correctly over the back - once that happens the horse creates a place for you to sit and the back becomes soft and "easy" to sit on.... then earning to sit the trot is doable.

i suggest lunge lessons on a horse that has the correct muscles and knows how to use its back correctly so you can sit.

Sep. 19, 2009, 08:01 AM
mbm, that is so true. I thought I had it all figured out, then Mac died and I started riding the Friesian's trot more seriously. I think that I am going to fall to pieces...

I am working on some of the same things, but multiplied by a trot so big and bouncy even my trainer is having trouble with it (she got it, I haven't yet). So we work very hard on getting his back up under us, and just going with the flow. I visualize a beach ball bouncing down the beach with me sitting on it, centered and sproingy, and I relax my ankles, my knees, my hips, my back and center myself again and again (then my shoulders get tense and I try to relax them). I sit for 3-4 strides, then post for 8, then sit for 3-4 strides, and post for 8. Loose, supple, I read Sally Swift again and again before I ride. I'm doing yoga. I'm working on my core. I'm being patient. It's not gonna happen overnight. Good advice here, though, and lots for you (and me!) to work on.

Sep. 19, 2009, 10:40 AM
Well I can only agree with sitting on your seatbones and leaning back if you can ride with your hands independent from your legs - otherwise you end up hanging on the horse's face. Put a strap on the front of the saddle (we call them suicide straps) and hook your pinky fingers in the strap to steady your hands.

As sitting trot requires control - you really need to strengthen your stomach muscles and that involves Off-horse exercises. You lower back can only be flexible and strong if your stomach muscles are in shape. I know this from have two bad back injuries including compression fractures.

Also remember (as they say in Germany - you own your elbows) - think about an invisible but elastic connection between your elbows and hips - that way if the horse pulls forward you are pulled deeper into the saddle and not tipping your upper body forward.

I too love lunge lessons that are done correctly. They are good for everyone.

Sep. 20, 2009, 07:54 AM
It is interesting to read all the various opinions, suggestions and experiences everyone has learning the sitting trot. What I've learned on one horse is different on another. The only way I ever really "got it" was definitely without stirrups. Well, it probably helped that I was being taught at the moment by Steurt Pittman on my very steady draft cross. Now that I have a more forward, sometimes bouncy horse that strategy is not as easy to implement. So, I am now in the "horse must be round" crowd in order for me to sit properly. At least on my current mount. So, the work is getting him balanced, straight and softly in the contact. That way I can be more relaxed and let him do his job. Oy, the life of learning to ride correctly...

Sep. 20, 2009, 03:08 PM
Ditto on longe lessons--as many as you can afford. I took 2 years off from moving up to get my head wrapped around sitting the trot. I'm working with a Pilates instructor and, more important, I got my horse strong across the topline so he can left his back. Time and hard work is the winning combination.

Sep. 20, 2009, 07:14 PM
I'm an eventer, and as such, I haven't spent as much time as I ought to on dressage basics... just trying to get through the test... and that got me to Training. But now its catching up with me and I've only just recently figured out my sitting trot issues. My suggestion is to drop your irons, let your legs hang down and take a deep breath. Just at the halt. Then, practice at the trot, slow is good enough to start. You have to practice unlocking and building up those muscles until you're comfortable at your horse's working trot. I found that without my stirrups I was able to go with the motion and bounce less. I think that with my stirrups I brace with my legs and grip with my knees and also use my hands too much for balance. Its worth a try! Good luck!

Sep. 20, 2009, 11:18 PM
Regarding the ankle issue - work without stirrups is great. BUT, as a former huntery type rider, I braced and pinched with my leg even without stirrups. That constant refrain of "heels down" does a number on a dressage seat!

The one thing that helped me the most was no stirrup work, and when I gripped too much with my leg I rolled my ankles and feet. Even now, if I get too tense and bracing with my legs, I drop the stirrups and roll my ankles around. You want to feel that lower leg draping softly on the side of the horse, and there should always be contact between your leg and the horse.

Carol Ames
Sep. 21, 2009, 01:31 AM
Find a Centered Riding instructor who, can do some basic bodywork on you while mounted:yes:; you sound like you are working Too :no: HARD to be supple; the principle to apply is "non doing"; that is going to take someone with a trained eye; something in your body is blocking the motion needed to follow the horse; Leaning back puts much of your body into locking/ contracted mode get tense and I try to relax them). I sit for 3-4 strides, then post for 8, then sit for 3-4 strides, and post for 8. Loose, supple, I read Sally Swift again and again before I ride. I'm doing yoga. I'm working on my core. I'm being patient. It's not gonna happen overnight. Good advice here, though, and lots for you (and me!) to work on.

Carol Ames
Sep. 21, 2009, 01:32 AM
Find a Centered Riding instructor who, can do some basic bodywork on you while mounted:yes:; you sound like you are working Too :no: HARD to be supple; the principle to apply is "non doing"; that is going to take someone with a trained:cool: eye; something in your body is blocking the motion:mad: needed to follow the horse; Leaning back puts much of your body into locking/ contracted :o mode get tense and I try to relax them). I sit for 3-4 strides, then post for 8, then sit for 3-4 strides, and post for 8. Loose, supple, I read Sally Swift again and again before I ride. I'm doing yoga. I'm working on my core. I'm being patient. It's not gonna happen overnight. Good advice here, though, and lots for you (and me!) to work on.

Sep. 21, 2009, 08:41 AM
No, I'm old, and my back hurts, but the yoga does help :).

Actually, we did really good last night in our lesson (and my instructor did work with Sally, by the way - she loved her). I AM working too hard, and we got my shoulders down (I was hunching defensively) and everything got a lot better. It wasn't that I couldn't sit, it was that I was feeling like my very bones were going to break. I did a lot of non-stirrup work last night and I can actually walk today. Like I said, I wasn't having any problem with a normal horse trot, even the 17.3 Oldenburg's, but this Friesian is a different story. They tend to not lift their backs easily so we've been addressing that first. He'll drop it, though, if I sit too long, because he's out of shape.

BK to some
Sep. 21, 2009, 08:52 AM
take your stirrups off your saddle for a bout a month. if you can't ride your own horse without stirrups, try to borrow an old lesson horse for a while. or find a very small arena or round pen to do it in, so he can't get away from you. it takes time and practice. start with a very slow jog just a few steps, and back to walk, over and over. hold the front of the saddle if it helps for a step or two, then let go, hold it again and let go.

be patient with your self! if you are not relaxed and you are tense and frustrated, it will not help you. also, watch other people who sit the trot well, watch videos, and hold it in your mind when you try.

ride bareback some too! again with the slow walk to jog, back to walk transitions.

move with the horse and not against him.

Sep. 21, 2009, 09:07 AM
this was all really helpful... a few people have told me to make my back look like a "D" (rounded) and not a "C" (hollow)... some say round back and other say sit up strait.. and still confused if weight belongs in heals or seat....
You've got the "D" thing backwards. The curve of the "D" is your front, and the straight part is your back. Your back should be neutral, neither rounded nor arched.

Sep. 21, 2009, 04:40 PM
If you can get someone to lunge you, try the following:
1. Use a grab strap so you don't bounce off and to reduce the pounding on the poor beastie.
2. Push all of those tummy muscles and lower abdominals toward your back so that your back is flat.
3. Lift your legs out to the sides, away from the horse.
4. Collapse from pain.
5. Repeat.

I did dressage a long time ago, and then spent a few years doing hunters because that's what we had at college... I'm getting back into it now, and this is pretty much how I spend my lessons now. I have tight hips to start with, and the thing is that if you really want your horse to have space to bring is back up so that the trot can smooth out, you need to get out of his way and NOT grip with those thighs. That exercise, if it doesn't kill you, will help your seat to be independent so you can move with your horse.

Sep. 21, 2009, 06:50 PM
Please do NOT try to learn to sit the trot on lunge line UNLESS the horse is supple and has learnt how to protect himself with a bouncing rider on top of him.

If the horse is not supple and his back is not up, he is bound to be a jack hammer if he has any decent stride (jogging does not count). When you put a rider who has not learnt how to sit the trot on this horse, the horse can get his back damaged. To protect himself, he is liable to hollow his back, thus making your job as a rider to sit the trot even harder. When it becomes too bouncy, the rider is liable to brace up, instead of loosening up, thus making the horse' job to carry the rider harder. This is a vicious cycle.

Lunge lessons to learn sitting trot is great, but only if you have a suitable horse and a suitable instructor.

I myself was never successful when trying to learn sitting trot. It never happened until my horse became supple and balanced. At that point, it simply happened. He offered me a place to sit and that allowed me to follow his motions. At that moment, sitting trot was easy and comfortable.

Sep. 21, 2009, 07:02 PM
Always done hunter-jumping, but somewhere along the way I've progressed without learning such a basic fundamental- the sitting trot.

It's admirable that you want to get to be relaxed while sitting the trot. I guarantee you it's going to help with jumping, even though you got by without it so far. I haven't read the other answers and I'm sure you got good suggestions, just adding mine.

Key tip:
practice sitting trot *ONLY* for as long as you feel good and relaxed about it. In fact, go to a walk or posting *BEFORE* you feel yourself tightening up.

Doesn't matter why you tighten up, transition to either walk or posting for any reason, your own discomfort, old muscle memory you are trying to override with new muscle memories, or horse needs your attention for any reason at all (horse distracted, horse out of rhythm, etc)

That means, get your horse trotting nicely in a large circle, start sitting, and either post or walk after as little as 2-3 strides. Obviously, you increase the number of strides you sit *relaxed* with time/practice.

May be easier without stirrups -- more below -- but you need to feel safe.

You can pursue this goal over time, don't pressure yourself to do it right away -- some things are more difficult to practice when you are an experienced rider already! It will take your mind and body and practice 'till it becomes second nature -- but cut yourself a lot of slack on putting pressure on yourself, just "do it" in very short periods of time, but often .. say every 10 min practice 2 min of sitting trot etc then go do whatever else you do while riding.

1) Find a good vaulting instructor with a steady vaulting horse and book a few sessions on the longe, say once a week for 2 or 3 weeks. This is not a reflection on your horse etc, it's just is easier sometime when you have the vaulting pad and a TRULY steady even-paced horse. It's also sometimes easier when it's not your home barn and a different horse. Even one session would be great! Be sure to trot (even canter) without stirrups and your hands up the air, one hand up, or rotating both hands front to back.

2) With your horse, with or without your instructor, follow the strategy above of sitting the trot only for as along as you do it without tightening.

It helps to have an instructor sometimes, eyes on the ground spotting your position, as well as someone to keep an eye on your horse -- I can "longe" my students' horse without needing a longe sometimes, subtly help maintain rhythm. If your horse longes well, do that for short periods (a few minutes at most so you do not get involuntarily stiff, due to old muscle memories etc.)

One thing I like to practice myself is letting go and picking up stirrups without looking down or helping out with our hands. Try it a walk first, then at the sitting trot on the longe .. but do not let yourself get stiff, go back to walk before that (I'm repeating myself because you are riding and jumping etc and small steps may seem superfluous!)

Practice by yourself as well, sometimes easier than feeling you're reverting to beginner stuff in front of your whole barn (may or may not be an issue.) Me, I'm in the camp that if we fill the basic stuff we missed or are out of practice, it's going to help all our riding.

Alone with your horse:
Preferably when the arenas aren't too busy so no one else gallops by you (depending on your horse, day, weather etc)
try practice walk - trot transitions on the buckle or with very little contact. Work your way up to that in small steps:

- on a large circle, prepare your horse by a couple of w / t transitions the way you normally do them
- then do the same without stirrups (remember, only a few steps of trot) using the reins the way you normally do
- then do another 2-3 walk-trot transitions without stirrups and with as little rein contact as you can muster, to make sure your hands are not involuntarily holding on.
- play with having reins in one hand, typically the inside hand, raise the other straight up. Change direction, same the other way.

The fact that you already know you are going from walk to trot and you only want to trot 3, or 5, or 10 strides than back to walk it going to make it easier to relax.

once you work your way up quarter-circle or half-circle relaxed sitting trot, try the going straight & bend at corners, or snakeline. Again, back to walk or posting *before* you tighten up. Try sitting the trot and saying out loud "right" & "left" when the right hind or the left hind leaves the ground. One the longe, try closing your eyes and guess exactly when the right hind or the left hind are leaving the ground.

*a green horse may be on alert by you picking up/dropping stirrups or you rotating arms while riding, this is the type of young horse education that sometimes may get missed and .. well, just be safe.
* while good riders and dressage riders may sit any trot, I don't (anymore). If the horse gets out of rhythm, stiffens through the body, looses straightness (or the circling bend), trots too fast, is not round, etc etc -- it's better that you address all that, do not try to sit an uncomfortable trot. I often go to two-point on trails with greenies if the trot is too irregular to post -- but will try to sit the trot of make sure I still stay balanced and not too forward in case of a lil'buck etc..

Classical equitation used to require that riders go from posting to sitting trot 3 strides before every transition, up to canter or down to a walk, or before cavalletti or a small jump. I'm sure you find lots of new ways to use your sitting trot once you're comfy with it!

Ok, now I'm going to read the rest of the thread. Let us know about the progress you make!

Rena in California

Sep. 21, 2009, 08:59 PM
Well, I have not worked my way to all replies and I am not going to go into the how-to....


To sit the trot you need relaxation. you have to be relaxed to sit, and the horse has to be relaxed to let you. The back needs to be like a swinging suspension bridge. A slow speed does not equal a relaxed back. While you need to sit up straight, you have to allow for the inevidable shock absorbtion. I suppose you have to figure out how to.

Carol Ames
Sep. 23, 2009, 12:25 AM

take a look at Peggy Cummings' " Connected Riding" Peggy is a master teacher, and may say something which unlocks your body/ mind:cry:;)
quote=Carol Ames;4389170]Find a Centered Riding instructor who, can do some basic bodywork on you while mounted:yes:; you sound like you are working Too :no: HARD to be supple; the principle to apply is "non doing"; that is going to take someone with a trained eye; something in your body is blocking the motion needed to follow the horse; Leaning back puts much of your body into locking/ contracted mode get tense and I try to relax them). I sit for 3-4 strides, then post for 8, then sit for 3-4 strides, and post for 8. Loose, supple, I read Sally Swift again and again before I ride. I'm doing yoga. I'm working on my core. I'm being patient. It's not gonna happen overnight. Good advice here, though, and lots for you (and me!) to work on.

Sep. 24, 2009, 12:14 PM
Some good advice posted here. . . so I'll just add to go along with Centered Riding techniques.

Another thought is when you are trying (But don't really 'try' --- just 'let!' :)) to sit, and only a few steps at a time when your horse's back feels soft, think of your belly button falling forward and down toward the pommel in rhythm with the horse's stride. 'Let' it happen for a few strides then return to posting, find the rhythm and allow it to happen again.

Sep. 24, 2009, 05:57 PM
What Mary in Area 1 and DGRH said.

Personally I think most people put wayyyy too much emphasis on "relaxing". If you really relax you'll flip backwards right off the horse as it goes forward, so there's a clue :lol: it's actually the right amount of isometric tone that you are looking for. You can skip right over the bouncing around phase if you can minimize your movement to match that of the horses back, which is actually quite small.

Sep. 24, 2009, 06:06 PM
What works best for me is to drop my stirrups and work on that for awhile. Once you pick them back up again your legs are much longer and you body is sitting more correctly.

Another exercise that is fun and beneficial to both the horse and your seat is alot of transitions. Start with walk - trot, trot-canter, walk-canter (my favorite :)). Your body and the horse really respond to all three.

Sep. 25, 2009, 08:57 PM
One instructor, a year or so ago, commented that I was "overthinking" things told me to think about something - anything - other than what I was doing. "What do you need at the grocery store? LIST IT!"

I know - thinking of something OTHER than riding WHILE riding is not generally the profferred (or preferred ;) ) advice. But... it worked. Maybe because I started naming items in rhythm with the trot? Forgot that tip till now.