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Young horses: When do you start sitting the trot?

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    Young horses: When do you start sitting the trot?

    I was watching some of the videos from the USDF site with clips from young horse clinics. I was a little surprised to see the clinician ask the riders to sit the trot on horses that were 3 years old. In fact, almost all of the trotwork was done in the sitting trot for the 3-4 year olds.

    So just asking the COTH group--when do you start sitting the trot on a young horse? When you introduce it---how long do you spend in sitting vs. posting trot? Pros and cons to introducing it early on?

    #2
    My mare's trot was by far her worst gait under saddle, and we sat it at first. She tended to get off balance from any unevenness, which included posting. Because she needed that evenness, sitting (lightly) helped her rather than the posting to help the hind legs we think of. As she got stronger and more balanced I started posting, and now she's almost 6, and I post until she's really using herself over the topline and swinging. I tend to post in shows because that really relaxed throughness is not so available with tension, and some rides I may not even sit her at all if she's having a more tense day. On days she is really swinging and using herself well, I will sit almost from the start.
    If Kim Kardashian wants to set up a gofundme to purchase the Wu Tang album from Martin Shkreli, guess what people you DON'T HAVE TO DONATE.
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      #3
      I've been sitting the trot for short periods (1 min or so) on my 3.5 year old pony, at my trainer's direction. She has 60ish rides right now, and has been fine with it. I am lightly sitting the canter as well, because she tends to hollow unless I am lifting her belly with my legs and I can't figure out how to do that from 2-point.

      I know other trainers that hardly touch the horse's back for the first couple months, but I think it depends on the horse. They will let you know what is comfortable for them -- or not.
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        #4
        I think it's different for every horse, so you have to be able to evaluate the physical ability and correct muscling of the back before you decide to sit the trot. Always better to go slow and correct vs. thinking you need to sit the trot by X date. Trainers/riders getting horses ready for the Young Horse Championships push the limits on everything they expect those young horses to do. If you've ever seen the 4-6 year old classes and what they're expected to do, how they need to carry themselves like upper level horses (3rd and higher) for the 6 yr classes, it's hard to watch. Many of these horses don't last physically or mentally when they're pushed that hard that soon. So if your horse is your long-term partner, don't do what riders are doing in prep for Young Horse classes!
        Savor those rides where you feel like a million bucks, because there will be those where you feel like a cheap date...

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          #5
          My horse found the posting trot off-putting at the very start, so I sat more. I started posting when I could, though, and it did help her balance once she got used to it.

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            #6
            Same as above--I've started a few baby horses who get unsettled by the posting trot at first--a few who I didn't post the trot until maybe their 5th or 6th ride. After that initial period, I mostly post until they're a little older and have more musculature over their backs. Around 5 they're usually strong enough to do more sitting trot.

            What's really important though, is the person doing the sitting. A pro who uses their core and sits like a feather on any trot isn't going to be any harder on the back than posting. Your average adult am doesn't have the strength to sit without bouncing around on a young horse.

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              #7
              a western trainer broke my guy, so he was broken sitting(admittedly the trot was in like 2nd gear and not with the same power a dressage rider would want/expect).

              i started doing short periods(2/3 circles, or a couple of LY etc) sitting in Dec 2015, so the end of his 3yo year.

              i am slowly building it up, i would ideally like to be sitting for the 4yo classes starting in april but if he's not ready then i will rise, no biggie

              my boy is VERY easy to sit, a little rolling ball that carries you along easily though.

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                #8
                The first time I trotted my pony I sat for just a few steps, but then was able to post. She had no problem with it and now I can ask for a bit more at the trot and she'll give it to me.

                When I was starting my mustang, he did better if I sat. He is very easy to sit to, though, not a big stride, not much suspension in that one!
                "A horse's face always conveys clearly whether it is loved by its owner or simply used." - Anja Beran

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                  #9
                  My youngsters are under saddle at least 6 months to a year before we do ANY sitting, and then it is just very short sessions. The back and neck are so fragile in young horses, I wouldn't sit, nor would I allow bigger riders on a horse until it has some fitness. JMHO, but also based on a lot of research. You've all seen the diagrams of when horse's growth plates close? I use that information in setting up our young horse training process.

                  I was taught that you don't even use a dressage saddle on a young horse - a close contact or all purpose to keep the rider even more off the horse's back at first.

                  More and more horses have neuro issues, kissing spine has become fairly common - I suspect we are just doing too much, too soon with the young horses. Might be an unpopular view...

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                    #10
                    Originally posted by MysticOakRanch View Post
                    My youngsters are under saddle at least 6 months to a year before we do ANY sitting, and then it is just very short sessions. The back and neck are so fragile in young horses, I wouldn't sit, nor would I allow bigger riders on a horse until it has some fitness. JMHO, but also based on a lot of research. You've all seen the diagrams of when horse's growth plates close? I use that information in setting up our young horse training process.

                    I was taught that you don't even use a dressage saddle on a young horse - a close contact or all purpose to keep the rider even more off the horse's back at first.

                    More and more horses have neuro issues, kissing spine has become fairly common - I suspect we are just doing too much, too soon with the young horses. Might be an unpopular view...
                    My thinking is along these lines. My 4y.o. (coming 5) has been under saddle and in regular work for a year as of January 1st. I still go rising 99% of the time. The only time I sit a little bit is prior to our canter departs. He's doing all of the basics plus some lateral work - leg yielding, shoulder in, starting baby renvers. All of that work is easily done in rising trot... I just don't see a reason to sit on a horse who is still developing strength and muscle, especially when we're trying to encourage them to lift through the back. FWIW, at the Charlotte clinic she spoke about how she never sits on young horses - sitting is minimal until they are 6 - and even after that she does much of the work in rising even with the upper level horses as it encourages them to lift and swing.

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                      #11
                      When they are strong enough that it doesn't affect the swing in their gait you can start introducing it in small bits. When this happens will be different for different horses, and for different riders on the same horse.

                      I tend towards more use of posting trot than many. I post about half the time on my 9 year old (who is working his way from I-1 to I-2).

                      Comment

                        Original Poster

                        #12
                        THanks for all your replies! I am more in line with MysticOakRanch and Redmond in how I have brought along my young horse. I started her in a jumping saddle and have been posting the trot. I usually only sit when I am asking for a canter transition. Her trot is also very bouncy--so I'd rather post, than to do a poor job of sitting the trot.

                        Here is a video from June, just after she got started under saddle. She is 3 years old in this video. I am riding in a jump saddle here because it was much more comfortable and stable than my dressage saddle. She had no muscling in her back, and had no topline to speak of. I'm pretty sure I would not want to sit this baby trot! Fast forward to now, she is getting much stronger--but I'm still not inclined to sit yet. That, and sometimes her trot is big, but not very balanced yet. I may experiment with trying to sit for very short periods though.

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

                        Comment


                          #13
                          When they start consistently offering you someplace to sit.

                          That was the advice offered to me by a pretty well-known dressage clinician a number of years ago, and it has really be invaluable since. Until the horse has learned inside leg to outside rein and can, with pretty good consistency, engage their core and lift their back when you ask, there really isn't much point to sitting. A lifted back is a much nicer place to sit than a hollow one. And even then, you introduce it slowly to allow them to get accustomed to the balance.

                          I think, contrary to what a lot of folks think, the posting trot was primarily for OUR comfort first, the horse's second. Sitting the trot takes finesse and core strength, but it is preferable in terms of your ability to influence the horse's movement and balance compared to posting. But with babies, either way, I work my way up to it.
                          Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not. Remember that what you have now was once among the many things that you only hoped for.

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                            #14
                            Originally posted by Abbie.S View Post
                            When they start consistently offering you someplace to sit.

                            That was the advice offered to me by a pretty well-known dressage clinician a number of years ago, and it has really be invaluable since. Until the horse has learned inside leg to outside rein and can, with pretty good consistency, engage their core and lift their back when you ask, there really isn't much point to sitting. A lifted back is a much nicer place to sit than a hollow one. And even then, you introduce it slowly to allow them to get accustomed to the balance.

                            I think, contrary to what a lot of folks think, the posting trot was primarily for OUR comfort first, the horse's second. Sitting the trot takes finesse and core strength, but it is preferable in terms of your ability to influence the horse's movement and balance compared to posting. But with babies, either way, I work my way up to it.
                            This.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Let me say straight out that I do not train young horses, so I am speaking from personal philosophy, but not much experience: I think it has more to do with a horse's level of training than age. With one of my horses, who started out as a hunter, I didn't do any substantial sitting in my dressage work until we were solid first level and starting to do second level movements. Prior to that, it was just a few minutes at a time to get him used to the idea. Until he learned to really move through his back like a dressage horse, it was pretty obvious that sitting was harmful, not helpful to the quality of the gaits.

                              IMO the recent change to allow sitting at first level brought the dressage tests into line with practical training. Some first level horses (and riders) are ready for it, some aren't. I think that it is appropriate to start doing substantial amounts of work in the sitting trot as soon (or as late) as the horse is able to give you a supple place to sit, and the sitting can help to improve his gaits. The age where this occurs will depend on the horse's conformation, the rider's skill, and the amount of training/muscling. A horse that is built really uphill and moves through his back easily will enable a rider to sit earlier than, say, your typical arab or quarter-horse. Even though a quarter horse may have a smooth and seemingly sittable trot, sitting it early on will just drive them more downhill and will not help lift the shoulders.

                              I would think that many of the teams preparing for the 4 year old young horse tests are at that stage - but many most of our regular 4 year olds are not.

                              Yes. I do some sitting before the horse is actually at that stage. But sitting before the horse is at that stage would be just for short amounts of time in order to get him used to new things, and is not for helping to train a quality gait.

                              As I said, I am not a young horse trainer. I am throwing these ideas out there more to hear what others think of them rather than to give advice.

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