First of all, let me just say that this is the hardest part of riding horses. Sitting a trot is usually where most people get off balance or fall off for the first time. It ends up going the same way just about every time.
- The rider asks the horse to trot by squeezing with their legs and using their voice.
- The horse starts to trot.
- The rider is surprised.
- The horse trots faster.
- The rider begins to bounce.
- The rider forgets to steer.
- The horse decides to trot even faster.
- The rider gets scared because they have no control.
- The rider’s heels come up, their head comes forward and down and their hands hold onto the saddle which means there’s no way they can have any control at all or keep their balance.
- The rider starts to bounce off the side as the horse turns.
- Either the rider ends up on the ground and scares the heck out of the horse, the horse stops or something else (like me) stops the horse for the rider.
So…let’s get and keep your butt in that saddle.
First things first, you have to know the secret to sitting the trot. There are three parts. This is only the first step but it’s critical to know these three things.
- KEEP IT SLOW. The slower the trot, the more control you have, the more time between beats you have and the more round the trot can become, making it easier to follow.
- Steer. DON’T FORGET TO STEER DANG IT. If you’re not steering then you don’t know where the horse is going and there’s no way to stay with a horse if you have no idea where it’s going next.
- Take your feet out of your stirrups. As a beginner rider the stirrups are doing you a disservice by giving you a false sense of security. When you take your feet out of them you are forcing your body to take over and figure it out really quick. Your legs will clamp down a bit and your lower body with start to dislocate from your upper body, allowing you to follow the movement of the horse instead of working against it. DO IT. LIVE IT. LOVE IT. Stirrups = bad habits for the new rider at a trot. So drop ’em for a few minutes and try this out.
*If when trying this no-stirrup approach you start to feel like you are coming off the side of the horse, simply pull back on the reins, stop the horse and reset your body. Note that you started coming off the side most likely because you stopped steering. I might be wrong but I’m probably not. DON’T FORGET TO STEER DANG IT.
Again, slow it down and steer. People freak out, curl up and forget to control the speed of the horse and to steer. Basically, if you always know where the horse is going and how’s he’s getting there, you’ll never get off balance. Once again, DON’T FORGET TO STEER DANG IT!
Now that you know the secret, PRACTICE.
Practice a lot. Trot and trot and trot and trot. The only way to get good at sitting a trot is to do it as much as possible. Keep on trotting! If you get this down, everything else is easy.
You should try to maintain your basic seat with a straight line from your shoulder to your hip to your heel. However, it’s more important here that you remain back and open than it is that you have a perfect position. Most beginner riders when they feel uncomfortable start curling up into a fetal position. Fight this by leaning back, opening up your legs and lifting your chest. We can fix your seat later but first just fight against the urge to curl into that fetal position.
Next focus on dislocating that lower half from your upper half. You want to follow the round bounciness with your hips but not your head. Let your hips rise up over the bump and follow it back down keeping your upper body moving smoothly through space. Pretend you have a drink your hand. Don’t spill it. Absorb that shock with your hips.
Are you steering?
Are you keeping it slow?
Are you relying on your stirrups?
Are you practicing your trot by trotting a lot?
Below is a great video with some good stuff about sitting a trot.