What this episode is all about & how it can help you:-
- Think different words which will help you to move differently
- Stop holding on in the sitting trot
- Understand how to balance rather than ‘grip’ with your legs
The sitting trot can be a challenge for many riders. Being told how to ‘absorb the movement’ which can leave you scratching your head. Or just move ‘with the horse’. Another confusing term, especially when you have never managed it before. This is going to be a little different…
Have you ever noticed how it is often easier if you’re told what not to do, rather than what to do. Sometimes the ‘don’t do this’ are easier to follow along with. You can identify yourself better in those situations, possibly because they are already happening to you!
In this episode of the Daily Strides Podcast I want to tell you what not to do in the sitting trot. I hope that by hearing at least one of these things, you can have an ‘aha’ moment. Knowing what you are doing wrong is one of the easiest ways to begin swapping out those habits for ones that better serve you.
I believe that one of the reasons you might be struggling so much with the sitting trot, is because of how you are thinking about it. Your mindset around the sitting trot. The words you are using to describe it, which are influencing how you ride it.
Changing the Words Around the Sitting Trot
If I asked you to think of the sitting trot or describe the sitting trot in one word, what would that word be? For many riders the words bouncy or uncomfortable are top of the list. Those types of words create a resistance in your mind, and therefore your body, when it comes to riding the sitting trot.
Another common way riders make the sitting trot difficult for themselves is by thinking that they must ‘stay still’. No, you must move with your horse! In fact, ‘staying still’ will only cause you to work against your horse…
If you can begin to reframe the words you are using to describe the sitting trot, you will begin to respond differently in the sitting trot. ‘Moving with’ rather than ‘bouncing’. Begin thinking about what you are telling yourself the sitting trot is, or is not. Using different words will allow you to feel differently about how you approach the movement.
Stop Holding On!
One of the things that really drives me a little crazy when it comes to riders and the sitting trot is holding on. Why do so many riders want to grab the pommel of the saddle, or the neck strap, when riding sitting trot?
Holding on with your hands to something in front of you will NOT help you to ride a better sitting trot. Your arms are simply not long enough!
What you will find is that holding on will cause you to either tip forwards into a fork seat, or close your chest and slouch your shoulders. Both of those position faults lead to unbalanced riders, so rather don’t do either!
Why This Affects Your Sitting Trot
If you put a measuring tape from the point of your shoulder, across your chest to the point of your other shoulder, we want this to be wide. When you hold on, it causes you to literally close or shorten your chest, which means you are no longer carrying yourself in the saddle.
This ‘slouching’ and heaviness caused by not carrying yourself through the top half of your body stops your hips and seat from moving. It shuts down your ability to follow your horse.
Disengaging your core, and therefore your seat, interferes with your overall balance, your ability to communicate with your horse and your effectiveness as a rider. It changes you from being a rider to being a passenger in the saddle.
The result is that your movements, which will happen as the horse moves underneath you, will be too slow and stiff. This leads to you moving against the horse, which leads to the ‘bounce’ or discomfort many riders experience in the sitting trot.
How Lessons on the Lunge Can Help You
I am a huge fan of riders taking lessons on the lunge. You are on the horse, while a trainer or instructor is lunging the horse and giving you a lesson.
It allows you, the rider being lunged, to not have to focus on the horse, and just focus on yourself and your habits.
One of the ways that I find it really helps riders to become more natural when riding the sitting trot is due to them being able to ride without reins. Holding their arms out, or just ‘pretending’ they are holding the reins helps the rider to carry themselves.
Lunging allows you to truly build your position and correct your posture in the saddle. Keeping your chest nice and open. Keeping your chin up. All to allow your hips to move with your horse.
Stop Gripping with Your Knees
So many riders believe that if they grip hard enough, their legs are going to keep them in the saddle. Unless you have legs of steel, your legs are not going to keep you in the saddle.
Your legs are for communicating with your horse, not holding you in place when you ride!
In my experience, children don’t do this. For the most part, their legs do not come far enough down their horses sides to be an effective ‘grip’. However, adult riders are different. I have met so many riders who are exhausted after each ride, purely from the effort required to ‘stay on’. Horse riding should not be that difficult!
If you are gripping with your legs in the sitting trot, it can be a difficult habit to break… Try thinking about how it is negatively impacting both you and your horse…
For your horse, the gripping acts like a vice-grip on the horses back and most (maybe all) horses really don’t like that feeling. They will try to get out from underneath it by hollowing or ‘running away’.
The Clothes Peg Effect…
For you, the gripping is closing down any supple movement through your body. It is this movement that allows you to ride a smooth sitting trot. Think of your legs, when they are gripping, as being like a clothes peg. They are ‘tight’ and squeezing on your horses sides.
Every bounce, and each stride will become a bounce when you are gripping, you take will ‘push’ you up higher in the saddle. The ‘clothes peg’ will begin to slip off the horse – meaning you will begin to slip off the horse!
Rather try to ‘drape’ your legs. Like curtains. In constant contact with your horses sides so you can communicate.
Riding the sitting trot does not have to be difficult or hard. If you can identify with any of the above, chances are that you are making this harder on yourself, and your horse, than it needs to be.
Remember the ‘hinge’ movement and rather try to practice that in your sitting trot.
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
- Avoiding the Trampoline Effect in 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