Have you ever sat down (no pun intended) and thought about how correct your rising or posting in trot actually is? Rising or posting in trot is one of the first aspects we learn when starting out riding a horse. And it is also one of those things that we forgot to come back and upgrade!
We happily spend hours trotting around the arena or along the trail. Up-down, up-down, up-down. And all without ever stopping to consider if the movement we are performing is helping or hindering our horse. Or if it is stalling our own progress as a rider…
Let’s Chat About Trot
Trot is a two time beat, 1 2 1 2 1 2 1 2. This 1 2 is caused when the pairs of diagonal legs move together underneath you; off fore with near hind (creating the 1) and then near fore with off hind (creating the 2).
A rising trot, or posting, is used in many different aspects of riding. Warming up, trotting long distances for comfort, schooling in the arena, and lower level dressage to name a few. It is also used, later, to begin influencing your horse’s tempo in the trot. Which can only happen if you have developed your posting or rising sufficiently to do so.
It really is a versatile and well-used skill when riding. And, of course, when we are rising or posting in trot we are not sitting in the trot. For many riders, this can become bouncy and often uncomfortable after a while.
Up and Down?
When posting in trot, we will ‘sit’ for the 1 and ‘rise’ for the 2, or vice versa. However, when we are thought rising trot early in our riding education the words “down” and “up” are often used. These are instead of “rise” or “sit”.
Because the words ‘Up’ and ‘Down’ are used most people do just that, which is not technically correct…
Next time you are at the barn, watch a few riders trotting. Notice the different styles of posting in trot and also, the differences between these styles. Those that look stiff, and unbalanced, and falling back in the saddle are often doing an up and down movement.
Their legs will straighten. Often they will thrust their whole body ‘up and forward’. It’s like they’re pulling themselves up from the shoulders, rather that using the horses momentum, their core, their own legs to ‘push’ them up.
The usual outcome for this type of a ‘rise’ or post is a lack of balance. It also results in an inability to use your body to affect the ‘down’ or return to the saddle. The rider will get slightly left behind and fall back into the saddle. The problem is worsened due to the fact that because they fell backward, much too close to the cantle or back of the saddle, it becomes uncomfortable for both horse and rider. It is also not great news for your saddle!
Lack of Suppleness
Another downside of actually standing up and down is the fact that your whole body moves with each rise or post. As we all know, trotting requires you to keep your hands and upper body ‘quiet’ while riding…
Standing straight up makes this pretty much impossible. And using your shoulders and upper body to ‘pull’ yourself up, whether with or without the use of your reins, requires quite a bit of movement!
The result is ‘bouncy and jerky hands in the trot. This negatively impacts your horse’s way of going due to the jarring effect on his mouth. It also produces a lack of consistent contact through the reins.
Rather Think Forward and Back
Imagine moving your pelvis, and only your pelvis, in a forward and diagonally upward direction. This movement will happen in perfect coordination with your horse. This is because you will use the energy of your horse to help lift yourself ‘up and down’, rather than having to pull yourself.
Posting like this allows your lower leg to remain in position. It is underneath you and supporting you as you ‘rise’ and it also lessens the movement in your upper body. These two factors are huge for not only your ability as a rider to continue providing a consistent ‘conversation’ with your horse. But also your horse’s comfort levels.
Being secure in your position is essential to being able to ride with independent aids and queues… This softer rise or post to the trot allows you to use your body in other ways to ask different questions of your horse.
Influence Your Horse By Posting in Trot
Once this ‘rocking’ motion is perfected, you can then begin to use your posting or rising to influence your horse’s tempo in the trot. If he is running on a little, you can re-balance the situation by slowing your rise slightly. The same applies if he is trotting in a less than energetic fashion.
However, like all things horse riding and aids-related, positively influencing your horse’s trot requires more than just posting in the trot. It requires a host of supporting aids as well.
There is a full week of audio horse riding lessons on this topic inside of Connection (formerly Daily Strides Premium). They are focused on improving your technique to rising or posting to the trot. We work on the straight, work on circles and also go through exercises for the transitions into and out of the trot. You can find out more about Connection (formerly Daily Strides Premium) HERE >>
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