One of the most frequently asked questions I get is, “Can you give me some tips to help me sit the trot better?”
So here are some quick tips to help you with this all too common challenge.
1. First and foremost, your horse needs to be on the bit. If his back is hollow, stiff, or tight, you’ll find it impossible to sit comfortably. (And, in turn, you’ll make your horse uncomfortable too!)
To put him on the bit, use the “connecting aids”. Start in the posting trot on a circle and do the following:
–Close both legs as if you’re asking for a lengthening.
==As your horse starts to surge forward toward a lengthening, close your outside hand in a fist to capture, contain and recycle the power back to the hind legs.
–Keep giving those aids for about 3 seconds.
==If your horse starts to bend his neck to the outside, give some squeezes and releases with your inside hand to keep his neck straight.
–After 3 seconds, soften back to maintenance contact with your legs and hands.
2. Slow the trot down. Ride “sub-power” and when you can sit easily, increase the impulsion for just a few strides at a time. Then slow down again.
3. Put your horse on the bit in posting trot. Once he’s round, sit for just a couple of strides. Start posting again before you feel like you need to grip with your legs. Reorganize your body, relax your legs, and sit again for just a couple of strides.
4. Cross your stirrups over the front of the saddle. Post without your irons until your legs are tired. If they’re tired, you can’t grip so you’ll sit deeper.
5. Focus on your hips. Notice how they open and close in the walk. Mimic that motion when you’re in sitting trot. You can even exaggerate the motion by pretending you’re sitting on a swing and you’re moving your hips to make the swing go higher.
6. Pretend you’re a belly dancer. As you swing your loose hips, use a buzz phrase like, “Do the hootchie kootchie” or “Swing, swing, swing”.
7. Hold the front of the saddle with your inside hand. (Or use a “grab strap”.) Use that hand to pull you deeper into the saddle so you can learn the feeling of sitting close to your horse and moving “with” him in sitting trot.
8. Attach a small strap (like the bottom strap from a flash noseband) to the outside D ring on the saddle. Pull straight up to pull yourself down deeper into the saddle. This also helps to keep your hands forward in the “work area” so you don’t pull back.
9. Relax your knees and thighs by taking then an inch or so off the saddle for a moment, letting them drop, and then placing them on lightly again.
10. Take longe lessons. This is the best way to develop an independent seat so you can sit the trot easily. Don’t use any reins or stirrups. Let the person longing you handle steering and controlling the speed. Do exercises where you move one part of your body while you keep the rest of your body still. (Arm circles, scissor kicks etc.) Also, just practice sitting deeply on your horse in his traveling gaits as well as through upward and downward transitions.
To learn more about sitting the trot, check out: