Thursday, 13 September 2007

The Sitting Trot: By Ron Petracek

If you have trouble sitting the trot you aren’t alone. Many riders who are learning the sitting trot have trouble getting an independent seat, and some riders find that their seat bones aren’t anywhere near the saddle when they should be! Well, with a few simple tricks you’ll be able to sit the trot in no time.

First of all, because the sitting trot uses the word “sit,” many riders make the mistake of thinking that the action is passive. Hardly! You don’t just sit there during the sitting trot. If you think of the sitting trot as an active process, you’ll be well on your way to improving it!

A bad sitting trot is something that builds on itself and gets progressively worse. In most cases, it starts during the down motion. As the saddle drops down, the rider doesn’t move with it. Instead, the rider drops down just as the saddle is beginning to move back up. The result? The rider’s seat slaps the horse’s back. A horse who is having his back slapped will stiffen up and drop his back, and once he does this, the trot is just about impossible to sit.

In order to correctly sit the trot, you must be able to follow the saddle as it moves down. And to make this even more challenging, you need to do it quietly one seat bone at a time.

The good news is, you don’t need to make your horse suffer while you master the sitting trot. You can make a hard wooden chair suffer instead. Straddle the chair with the back in front of you, making sure that both of your seat bones are in contact with the chair. Tighten and relax each seat bone, one at a time. Keep alternating sides so that when one seat bone is lifted, the other is dropped. If for some reason you can’t do this, you may have weak muscles in that area, or your hips and back might be tight. Strengthening, stretching, and yoga or pilates will all do wonders to making this area stronger and more supple.

Once you’ve mastered the chair, time to move on to your horse! Sit up nice and straight so that your back is directly over your hips and seat, and alternate one sit bone at a time, following your horse’s movement. Don’t round your back, and be sure to keep your hips flexible and soft so that you can follow the movement of the horse. If your body is in correct alignment, your legs will be relaxed and your knees will be down and back. Your spine will absorb the bounce.

Okay, so let’s say you’ve mastered the sitting trot but for some reason, it still isn’t working. And let’s say you’ve determined that the reason is that your horse is still dropping his back and stiffening up. If your horse isn’t ready—if he isn’t relaxed and engaged, with his back lifted and swinging—don’t sit the trot. It could be that his back isn’t strong enough yet. You can help him develop the right muscles for the sitting trot by alternating sitting and posting. Sit until you feel him drop his back, and then post until he is relaxed and ready again. Pay attention, and be sure to post when your horse shows signs of discomfort. This is a good way to build his strength without souring him on the sitting trot.

For more great horse training tips, just click one of our links in the resource box below . We hope you will stop on by and say hello.

Ron Petracek - Raised in southern Idaho, Ron loves horses and the outdoors. If you would like to join in and learn from the vast resources at our equine forum please visit Looking to buy, sell or trade something equine realted? Just visit our huge network and get 12 sites for Free! Click here =>

Recommended Read - Complete Horse Riding Manual
By William Micklem

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