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I've tried and tried.... HOW DO I SIT THE TROT!

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  • I've tried and tried.... HOW DO I SIT THE TROT!

    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!

  • #2
    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....


    • #3

      You really need to develop you seat and hands independently - find someone who can give you good lunge lessons.
      Summit Sporthorses Ltd. Inc.
      "Breeding Competition Partners & Lifelong Friends"


      • #4
        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.
        The Trials and Jubilations of a Twenty-Something Re-rider
        Happy owner of Kieran the mostly-white-very-large-not-pony.


        • #5
          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.


          • Original Poster

            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....


            • #7
              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.


              • #8
                Originally posted by weebs07 View Post
                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.
                ... _. ._ .._. .._


                • #9
                  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.
                  If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude.
                  ~ Maya Angelou


                  • #10
                    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.


                    • #11
                      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.
                      Lowly Farm Hand with Delusions of Barn Biddieom.
                      Witherun Farm


                      • #12
                        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.


                        • #13
                          Longe lessons, and understanding that the sitting trot takes active pelvic motion forward.

                          A good instructor can help talk you through it.
                          Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

                          Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.


                          • #14
                            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.
                            The Trials and Jubilations of a Twenty-Something Re-rider
                            Happy owner of Kieran the mostly-white-very-large-not-pony.


                            • #15
                              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.


                              • #16
                                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.


                                • #17
                                  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 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


                                  • #18
                                    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.
                                    A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

                                    Might be a reason, never an excuse...


                                    • #19
                                      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!
                                      Last edited by Mary in Area 1; Sep. 18, 2009, 06:53 PM.
                                      \"I refuse to engage in a battle of wits with someone who is unarmed.\"--Pogo


                                      • #20
                                        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.