What this episode is all about & how it can help you:-
- Recognise the ‘trampoline effect’ in sitting trot
- Understand why it’s not up and down, but rather forwards and back
- Learn what the ‘hinge line’ is
- Get started with practicing a smoother sitting trot
Have you resigned yourself to the fact that you are never going to be great at riding it? You’ve taken on an approach of ‘what is the point of working on it when I can get by without it’? You might have even convinced yourself that you are actually doing both yourself and your horse a favour in not working on the sitting trot; the alternative being to prolong both of your discomfort!
If it’s the last reason, you can go ahead and give yourself a little pat on the back… I really believe that for every rider who is miserable riding the sitting trot, there is a horse feeling equally as miserable having to carry them!
In this episode of the Daily Strides Podcast I want to firstly explain why you may be experiencing the discomfort and bouncing when riding the movement. I also want to give you some ideas on how you can begin working on it, in a more comfortable way.
What is the Sitting Trot?
The sitting trot is when your horse is trotting and you are not moving your seat in and out of the saddle, as you would with rising trot or posting to the trot. It is riding a trot with no ‘up downs’.
What I have found really interesting is the reactions of beginner or novice riders… Those who have no idea that there is a rising or posting in the trot, they have far less issues with riding a sitting trot.
They have not attached any stories in their mind around riding the sitting trot, such as it being bumpy or uncomfortable. And, amazingly, it usually is not any of those things for them!
Many riders have an issue surrounding the sitting trot because they have been told it is the ‘bumpy trot’. Or that they will have a black and blue backside afterwards. But this could not be further from the truth.
A well ridden sitting trot feels ‘expansive’ and ‘spacious’. It flows and moves, horse and rider working together in perfect harmony. It is also not that hard to achieve…
Suppleness & Up Downs…
One of the most spoken about and worked on principles when it comes to horses is suppleness. However, I believe that suppleness is just as important for the rider as well. A lack of suppleness in the rider will become very obvious, very quickly, when riding the sitting trot.
The bounce in the sitting trot happens when the rider cannot move with the horse… The rider lacks the suppleness to follow the horses movement.
I think one of the big issues is that riders think of the trot in terms of ‘up and downs’. Even when they are speaking about the sitting trot, it is again in terms of ‘up downs’. That is essentially what bouncing is; an up and down movement.
However the sitting trot is not an up down, it is a ‘hinge like’ movement through your hips and pelvis. A ‘forwards and back’ rather than the up and down.
I have a free resource here for you that contains quick stretches you can do before you mount up that will help you become more supple through your body. You can get it HERE
What is the ‘Trampoline Effect’ in the Sitting Trot?
When we don’t allow that hinge like movement through our body, or we can’t allow it to happen due to a lack of suppleness, the trampoline effect occurs. This is when you and your horse fall out of sync.
I love trampolines. I tell you this, because I know exactly how a bouncy sitting trot and an unfortunate lack of coordination on the trampoline have the same effect on people.
Imagine you are jumping on a trampoline with a friend. This person is of a similar weight to you, or heavier. They are a second or two ahead of your movement on the trampoline. Meaning that they are touching down on the base or mat of the trampoline a second before you.
They touch down, the mat gives way underneath them. They both go down. Then the springs come into play and the mat begins to push them back up.
Unfortunately this happens to be when you are touching down and instead of the mat going down with you, you meet it with an equal and opposite force. It feels like a ‘knock’ or a ‘jolt’ underneath you.
While your body is ready for going down, you rather find yourself being pushed up, which results in a lost balance and rhythm. This is, unfortunately, what happens to many riders a couple of strides into the sitting trot.
The Trampoline Effect when Riding
In the sitting trot there is an opening and closing of the angle between the front of your upper thigh and the flat of your tummy. Basic terms, I know, but it is a whole lot easier for you to visualise if I put it like that!
This opening and closing, forwards and back, must synchronise with your horses movement.
However, as the angle opens more and the movement becomes ‘bigger’ many riders are just not supple or fit enough to keep up with the rhythm which is set by the horses trot.
They find themselves getting left behind, which causes the trampoline effect to happen between their seat and the saddle. They are going down, or back, as the saddle is going up or forwards.
Feeling the ‘Hinge’ Movement
I am going to suggest that you go right back to basics when beginning to work on your sitting trot. All the way back to walk. As you are walking with your horse, I want you to imagine drawing a line from hip to hip, through your belly button.
This is your ‘hinge line’. This is where the swing, the forwards and back movement, happens and can also be felt through your body.
The hinge line is just like a hinge for a door, except instead of being horizontal it will be vertical. When you are allowing the ‘hinge line’ to work, you are essentially changing the angle between the front of your thigh and the front of your torso, or tummy.
Riding the Sitting Trot
Once you have identified the movement and how you are opening and closing that angle with each stride, I am going to suggest picking up a slow trot.
This is perhaps one of the few times I will suggest you to not pay attention to the quality of your horses trot. In fact, the slower the better is true initially as you begin working on this!
Slowing it down will mean that you will be able to keep up with your horse and the movement that is happening underneath you. I recommend continuing to ride in this less active version of your horses normal trot until you have truly mastered the sitting trot here.
More Energy Means More Movement
Once you have done this, you can begin to work on improving the quality of your horses trot as well. The reason I suggest not doing this when starting off, is due to how much more suppleness is required as your horses trot improves.
Your suppleness must be able to keep up with your horses expanded movements when the trot begins to increase in quality and energy.
As more energy is created in your horses hind quarters, and as this energy is flowing through the horses body and connecting to the front, more movement will happen. It might not necessarily be faster, but rather a more ‘extravagant’ use of the horses body with each stride.
Focus on allowing yourself to be led first and then later you can begin influencing your horse in the sitting trot. Like most things, you must first learn to be led before you can lead.
Work on Straight Lines Initially
The final ‘tip’ I am going to leave you with is to work on a straight line initially before attempting the sitting trot through bends, corners or circles.
The reason for this is due to so many riders struggling with balance when riding a bend. Balance and the sitting trot go hand in hand together. Build confidence in your abilities by working where you have the most balance in the arena. This will usually be down the long sides.
The good news is that your sitting trot can definitely be improved. It can become more enjoyable for not only you but your horse as well. However, it will require a lot of suppleness and good practice from you.
I am hosting a free live online training on “The 6 Basics to Focus On in Your Riding” and I would love for you to join me there… If you’re interested, you can register for your seat by CLICKING HERE
Links mentioned in the episode:-
- Free Online Live Training “The 6 Basics to Focus on as a Novice Rider”
- 5 Days of Doing CLICK HERE
- 3 Mistakes Riders Make when Riding the Sitting Trot
- Position Faults that are Potentially Holding You Back in Your Riding
- What are the Basics when It Comes to Riding
- Are You Working on Developing Your Leg Aids