Something that I have really struggled with in the past is how to sit the trot.
Especially with really bouncy horses, I would often find myself feeling like at any moment I could bounce right out of the saddle. Other times, I would wake up the day after sitting trot a prancing horse and feel like I had bruised every inch of my bum.
The worst was when in the moment I felt like I might snap my lower back if I kept trying to learn how to sit the trot.
When I was first learning how to ride on Satchmo, my first pony, I remember having trouble sitting the trot because he would either be trying to catch up to the horses in front of him when he was following and would be super bouncy or I would be having to squeeze at him to go forward because he refused to go forwards when he was leading.
If you’re struggling to get a horse to move forwards under saddle, make sure that you read my blog on how to move a horse forwards first (click here!) and then come back to this one.
There were two very hot horses that I rode for a while: Comet & Dash. You can read more about them in my blog about how to slow down a hot horse (click here). You might also want to go through that quickly first if you’re struggling with the same thing. Those two would also always be extremely bouncy.
Comet was so excited about just going forwards that he had no rhythm at all. Dash had very little emotional control therefore he would get distracted and stressed out by everything and so his gait would be as sporadic as his mood. Needless to say, the sitting trot on both of these guys was a challenge.
Ideally, you want to fix the underlying issues so you at least have a nice even trot to work with. But regardless of what your horse is doing this trick will help.
The Problem: Struggling with Sitting the Trot
Learning how to sit a sitting trot is hard. You can feel like you are bouncing around all over the place. Your butt/back might hurt at the end. You might struggle to keep your heels down and yourself balanced and collected on top of the horse. You might have even heard that it’s bad for your horse so you stay away from it all together.
Personally, I have found that it’s the hardest in a Western saddle, but a little easier in an English saddle.
Surprisingly, it’s the easiest to do bareback.
I know, I know. You’re probably thinking, “this girl is crazy, she’s got it backwards!”
But actually, if you’re sitting the trot correctly, you’ll find it the easiest bareback.
The reason is because in bareback, you either move in sync with the horse or fall off. There’s not much middle ground.
In the Western saddle on the other hand supports your seat on all sides. This allows allows you to sit in a relatively deactivated fashion – bouncing you around, but not making you fall. This is why I think at the very least you want to practice dropping your stirrups every once in a while. That way, you’ll prevent bad habits from being too lazy and just allowing your saddle to hold you on the horse without having to engage your seat at all.
So how do you ACTUALLY engage your seat and become in sync with the horse?
How to Actually Sit the Sitting Trot
#1: How to sit the trot is all about the core.
When you’re sitting the trot, you want to:
- Pull in your belly button and squeeze it towards your spine
- Activate your core
- Perform a slight posterior pelvic tilt
The key is to do all 3 of these actions in time to your horse’s trot so that you move your bum with the horse so it ends up being : “squeeze, squeeze, squeeze, squeeze” with your core while your horse goes “trot, trot, trot, trot”.
This is very much a “you have to feel it to get it” type of movement so keep trying and I guarantee once it clicks, you’ll be able to ride any trot no problem. The only exception might be super bouncy horses, and for those I recommend…
#2: (Optional): Trot bareback.
I totally get that this is scary and may or may not be suitable for you depending on your level of riding.
Without a doubt, the fastest way to learn is to force your body to adapt. But that doesn’t mean it’s the safest or the best way for you.
I think of it like learning handstands. You can either just start handstanding and take the falls or you can do a series of controlled progressions. The first is faster and the second is safer. If you want some more help deciding which approach will suit you, try having a look at my goal setting for riders guide.
My Final Trick to Help You Sit the Trot
My last trick to help you sit the trot by staying in sync with your horse is NOT to try to follow their movements. Don’t follow your horse’s movements with your seat.
At this point, you’re definitely thinking “this girl is nuts, she just said to be in sync with the horse!”
Yes, I want you to be in sync with the horse 100% but that will happen naturally if you set the pace that you want. What will happen is that the horse will start to actually sync with you! If you read my blog on my secret walk to trot riding aid (click here!), I go more in depth on how and why it’s important to be the one that sets the pace with your seat.
If you want to learn more of my riding tricks, I created a 1 week Bootcamp (don’t worry, it’s FREE!) with 14 of my favourite riding methods based on the most common mistakes I used to make and I see other riders making. You can sign up below:
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