How to Trot Your Horse

The trot is a two-beat pace, with the horse’s legs moving in diagonal pairs separated by a moment of suspension. It can be ridden in rising or sitting trot.

The quality of a horse’s trot depends on its conformation. Some are built with good suspension and are able to absorb concussion well through their joints. Such horses give a smooth ride and so their trot is easier for the rider to deal with. Horses with poor suspension can have a jarring trot, which is not as comfortable to ride and makes sitting trot particularly difficult.

Rising trot

The rising trot gives relief to the horse’s back by moving the rider’s weight off the back muscles. This is particularly necessary on long rides or when riding a young horse that has not developed fully in its back. Points to note include:

  • Your upper body moves upward and forward, rather than in just an upward direction.
  • You must maintain a good position and keep your toe under your knee. When the toe is in front of the knee, the rider sits as if in a chair with the feet forward and backside pushed to the back of the saddle. The rider then has to lever her- or himself up and down out of the saddle in order to rise to the trot.
  • To perform rising trot:
  • Ask for an upward transition in walk by squeezing with your lower leg.
  • Sit for a few strides to establish the rhythm.
  • Lift out of the saddle, bringing your upper body slightly forward from your hips and letting your hips swing slightly forward toward the pommel (front arch of the saddle).
  • With the next stride, lower your seat lightly back into the saddle, keeping your shoulders slightly forward of the rest of your body.
  • Repeat the process for each stride.

Think of allowing your pelvis to swing forward and back, as if making an arc shape. By doing this, the horse’s movement will take you, instead of you having to heave yourself out of the saddle, against the horse’s movement, which is much more effort for both of you.

If you find yourself getting out of rhythm with the horse, return to either sitting trot or walk before returning to rising trot again.

Sitting trot

In trot, the horse’s back moves up and down, so for sitting the rider needs to be able to absorb this movement to avoid being thrown up and down. If you ride stiffly, you will bounce up and down; if you ride too relaxed, you will wobble around. To remain softly in the saddle, you need to be able to use your lower back, abdominal muscles and pelvis to match the movement of the horse’s back. It helps to start on a lunge line with stirrups and leathers removed, particularly if you are a novice.

  • To perform sitting trot: Once mounted, place your palms on the pommel and push yourself up out of the saddle, at the same time spreading your legs in a wide “V.”
  • Lower your seat back into the saddle and feel the difference in your seat. As the horse trots, your back should flex to emphasize the natural slight hollow in your lower back. Your pelvis should rock forward onto the front edge of your seatbones but it is important that the upper body remains still.
  • The pelvis should then return to the upright position, so that the back is flattened again.
  • At first aim for only a few strides. Always stop with the first bounce and reposition. Gradually add more strides. This will be easier on both you and the horse.
  • Once you begin to bump with every stride your horse’s back will stiffen in self-defense and the bouncing just gets worse.

It can be useful to practice the movement of the sitting trot off horse. Sit on a stool and flex your back in, then flatten it-feel how your seatbones rock forward and backward, acting as a pivot point.

Filed Under: Pets & Animals


About the Author: Fred Goodson has a passion for pets and animals. He has 4 dogs and is planning to have another one. He is also a blogger who writes about pets and animals. Currently, he is living in New Jersey.

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