View Full Version : Help with sitting trot/canter..

Sep. 29, 2010, 02:40 AM
I for the life of me have the hardest time with the both of these, what works/worked for you guys when learning this or trying to get it down? This working with trainers has been a constant struggle and I haven't been able to fully grasp it:(

Sep. 29, 2010, 03:04 AM
Drop your stirrups. Even better if you can get longe lessons/someone to longe you.

Relax your back. Think of absorbing the impact at the sitting trot in a side to side motion. (You aren't really moving side to side, but visualizing it that way, and feeling it with each seatbone helps.)

Sep. 29, 2010, 09:08 AM
Def do plenty of no stirrup work. My trainer has even made me do lessons bareback/bridleless on the lunge line to work on this problem. The more you relax the easier it is.

Sep. 29, 2010, 10:19 AM
I've found that it's all a matter of your back, and specifically your LOWER back-- your pelvis needs to be able to rock and move with your horse, and the only way for your hips to move is if your lower back is free and loose. If your back is tense and tight, you're just going to bop around up there like a ping-pong ball.

You can make the analogy to being on a swing and pushing to go higher, or... well, you can assume the R-rated analogy. :)

Sitting is easier at the canter than the trot, IMO... when I find that I'm bouncing around at the trot, I try to focus on relaxing my back, concentrating on GRAVITY and being as long and deep through my legs and torso as possible, like I am a candle whose wax is melting down over my horse.

Sep. 29, 2010, 12:10 PM
I find having a solid leg makes it so much easier. After winter (due to facilities and weather I don't ride much) I have to rebuild my leg and trying to do a sit-anything is next to impossible. If you have a solid leg try focusing on your core, stay nice and straight (but relaxed at the same time) in the saddle and push your pelvis slightly forward.

Also, if you have a bumpy horse try to get a few rides on a nice smooth butter horse so you can get the feel for how to sit and then carry that over to your normal horse. Plain and simple: some horses are easier to sit then others. I had a TB mare that I could sit her trot or canter without budging a cm because she was that smooth. :D

Sep. 29, 2010, 12:51 PM
sitting trot is hard. I still have yet to master it on my jackhammer of a lease horse. But...these are some of the things I have done that help

Don't worry about trying to do the sitting trot at a regular working trot. Slow it down to where its sit-able so that you can get the feeling of which muscles you should be using. Then slowly work up to a working trot, and do only a few good steps at a time, then stop.

The trot is a lateral gait, so at each step focus on one hip rising, then the other (in time with the horses' legs, obviously). Exaggerating that movement a bit helps me to soften my lower back and pelvis.

Drop those irons. Keeping your leg long will help you sink into the tack.

Make sure you're well warmed up. My back tends to be really stiff if I haven't done a good warmup, and so the inability to sit the trot is only made worse at that point. It usually takes a good 15 minutes of warming up before I feel ready.

Sitting the canter is much easier, and again its just a rocking of the pelvis front to back as someone else mentioned.

My pilates instructor has me do this exercise, which can be easily performed sitting in a chair. Sit up straight, on your seatbones, ribcage stacked above (so basically good posture). Without moving your upper back, tilt your pelvis forward, like you're dropping it between your legs. Now tilt it back like you're bringing it back up through your legs. That is essentially the feeling you should have when sitting your gaits.

Sep. 29, 2010, 05:28 PM
To me, sitting the canter is easiest bareback. You can feel when and where the horse's movement pushes your hips-there should be both a forward/back and side to side components. I couldn't feel both until I took the saddle off.

For sitting trot, the hardest part was learning how to relax my lower back. To avoid your butt bouncing up and down, your hips kind of have to roll back and forth. At first, try over exaggerating a fluid hip motion to get the feel. Once you get the hang of it, you can quit the bellydancing and quiet the swing lol.

Sep. 29, 2010, 11:53 PM
Sitting is easier at the canter than the trot, IMO... when I find that I'm bouncing around at the trot, I try to focus on relaxing my back, concentrating on GRAVITY and being as long and deep through my legs and torso as possible, like I am a candle whose wax is melting down over my horse.

Candle wax imagery- Wonderful!! I'm going to use that one during my next ride, thanks! :)

I also imagine my hip joints loosening, opening, and rolling around. I actually have to try not to get overly loosey-goosey about it when that image works too well! I also imagine my thigh/whole upper leg as lengthening and dropping. Sally swift has a good metaphor in the 'dropping a stone into water' one. She writes, "You don't FORCE the stone to sink, it just does" (or something of the sort- all about not *pushing* the stone through the water, but letting go and allowing gravity to do the work.)

Sep. 30, 2010, 12:24 AM
Another thing that can help is to take the reins in one hand and grab the pommel of the saddle with your other hand. Sit tall while pulling yourself down into the saddle. That might help you feel the motion of the horse more easily since any bouncing is eliminated. I was working on this same sort of stuff in my lesson today and found these exercises, plus working without stirrups really helped.

Sep. 30, 2010, 12:39 AM
I was taught to think of my knees as being shock absorbers similar to those on a car...visualize yourself sinking into the trot and the shock of the movement dissipating or being absorbed by your knee. Your knee takes the energy from the trot and pushes it down your leg to your calf, ankle, etc.

Sep. 30, 2010, 12:58 AM
FIRST: Check your stirrups. Are they too short for flat work? If not, keep reading.

I have found that most of the time when my students are having trouble sitting the trot and/or canter it's because their leg isn't in proper contact with the saddle. Be sure your thigh is rolled in from the hip. Your thigh should be in close contact with the saddle, but be sure you're not pinching or gripping at the knee. Your thigh is what supports you. I also agree you must relax your lower back. Stretch down through your heel, think "lengthen" your leg. Push that heel as far down as you possibly can, as if someone has tied weights to them and they are pulling your heels down. And as always, don't forget to sit up tall.

It will come in time! Practice, practice, practice! :)

Sep. 30, 2010, 02:55 AM
Thanks for the help everyone:winkgrin:, my trainers all have tried no stirrups and it still is quite hard for me to get it down..:(

Sep. 30, 2010, 08:46 AM
Work on exercises at the walk that will help you to develop a deep, open seat.
( try the leg flipper exercise at walk and then a few steps at trot- pull legs away from the saddle and balance on just your seat. Feel how the horse moves. Then lay your legs back on the horses side and feel how the horse moves.)

This will help you feel a proper position and develop the muscle memory.

If you have a horse with a swingy, active walk it helps to practice the movement and roll of the pelvis. It helps to loosen them up when things are slower. Only try to sit a few strides at a time. Sit your walk to trot transition then post after as many as you can do well.

Sep. 30, 2010, 10:51 AM
I had an instructor one time that said imagine doing the jeans dance. You know, when their tight or damp and you're putting them on, you kinda squat and spread your legs to get them in the proper place. Sounds strange I know, but hopefully you know what I'm talking about. The Jeans dance. But think about this when your riding. By taking your legs off, you are putting your butt down and your legs down and around sides.

I think you don't want to grip too much with your legs or you'll pinch yourself off. It should be relaxed, easier said than done I know. But, you're basically trying to ride something that can be jostling, if you're gripping tightly and worried about it, it will make it worse(create tension elsewhere). You want to be around the horse, not on it. Don't be afraid to sit on your horse instead of perching.

Sep. 30, 2010, 11:15 AM
Kinda like if you want to keep sand in your hand you have to let go a little... if you grip it to death it will all fall out.

That said, I REALLY struggle with sitting down. My short legs, long torso, fluffy body, former horse with a bad back, a serious riding hiatus and loss of my already minimal core muscles and a lifetime in the hunters has turned me into Tippy McKneeGrip, and it needs to end. A solid seat will not only make me a better rider, duh, but it will give me the confidence I need to start jumping again.

The new trainer I'm working with watched me hack yesterday during lessons, and she gave me something to work on before my first lesson with her- she put my stirrups down like 2-3 holes and had me work on "rolling onto my thigh".

I sort of get it. I definitely understand theoretically how it will make a huge difference, but in terms of body mechanics... not getting it quite yet. I learn best with words (reading words, having someone tell me), not usually by "doing" or "seeing". Can someone elaborate on "rolling on the thigh" for me (and probably the OP)? I want to have made a little progress on it before my first lesson with her so I can get even more out of the lesson.