7 Easy ways to fix your sitting Trot!
1. Check your clothing and equipment
Taking quick stock of your equipment can never hurt. Consider for example one of the most critical pieces of equipment: Your saddle. Does the saddle fit your horse? Does the saddle fit your, ahem, bottom? Does the saddle help you and your horse be balanced? If the saddle is painful for the horse, very little will help improve your sitting trot.
Do you have the appropriate pants and boots? Consider a leather seat if you bounce too much- helps you stay a touch quieter. Consider basic knee patch breeches if you find yourself driving the horse too much- allows you to move in the saddle a touch more without taking the horse with you.
Are your boots too stiff? Too flexible? Its all fine and dandy to have the flashiest andfanciest of riding gear but if you and your horse aren't comfortable it isn't going to help your sitting trot.
2. Find the right Instructor:
For those who want to learn to ride and learn to ride well, working with a good and knowledgeable instructor with the right attitude is an immense asset. Some riders are born with a natural ability to ride a horse...others, well, have to work at it. Now this is where you should pay attention: Sometimes what you are asking the horse to do and what the horse actually does can be two different things. A good instructor can take into consideration your body, ability, and compatibility and help you make effective adjustments to improve your sitting trot. Don't be afraid to ask your instructor to focus on a particular element of your riding- in this case the sitting trot.
3. Read a book!
A theoretical basis is always good. There are a ton of books on the market and most of them dedicate a considerable number of pages to riding the sitting trot.
Take for example Egon von Neindorff ( The Art of Classical Horsemanship, 2007)
"If the student is to understand the mystery of sitting relaxed at the sitting trot, then at this stage the horses trot tempo must remain as moderate as possible. As soon as the pupil cannot maintain the correct position in the slower trot tempo- immediately return to the walk to correct every single unwanted change in the seat. At this stage of learning, our beginner may not stiffen or twist and lose his position. When an unconstrained, supple, and erect seat has been achieved again one can cautiously begin with the next calm attempt at a trot sequence"
Or Isabell Werth ( Dressage School, A Sourcebook of Movements and Tips, 2005)
"Most Common Mistakes: The rider: leans forward or leans back; has busy lower legs pinches with her thighs; bounces instead of swinging with the motion; has stiff midsection; collapses in the hip; hollows her back; pushes lower legs too far forward (chair seat); pulls lower legs too far backwards; has too tight seat. "
Or even Bertalan de Nemethy ( The De Nemethy Method, 1988)
" To sit the trot, the rider must follow the up-and-down swinging movements of the back of the horse smoothly, so that he can retain the proper position. The horses back muscles (longissimi dorsi) will remain relaxed only if the riders seat smoothly follows the rhythm of the horse"
I know it's cold outside right now....or too hot....or too rainy.....or you can't get to the barn.... no excuses. Pick up a book.
4. From the Saddle to a Flexchair.
As a rider you are very often not aware of how you sit and drive. You may naturally be a little crooked, one hip lower that the other etc. A chair/saddle is connected to a computer program and with the guidance of a physiotherapist, will bring all your unique flaws to your attention- so you can work on fixing them. It records all your movements and reactions which leads to frequently surprising results. It is amazing how little tweaks to your body can have massive results. I am looking forward to taking this gadget for a spin in the near future!
5. LONGE LESSONS! Not just for beginners.
Lessons on the longe help. If you are not familiar with the concept: Your instructor lunges you: She controls the horse and you are free to focus intensely on your body and position. I cannot stress enough how helpful longe lessons can be!
6. Mobility exercises on and off your horse.
If your horse safely allows you to do so (or you can borrow another safe horse :)) Ride with no stirrups, or with no reins (that is best done on the lunge). Moving your legs on and off the horse, lean back, lean forwards, move your legs front to back. These movements all help relax, lengthen and ultimately improve your sitting trot. Don't be afraid to move a little and get out of your comfort zone.
7. Do something different!
Cross training is another super way to improve your riding. Consider yoga, pilates, dancing, meditation. Great ways to increase fitness and body awareness- all ingredients that help make up an amazing sitting trot.
I lied- there are 8 Tips (this one is a bonus )
Don't underestimate the power of breathing! Actually the breathing is pretty darn important and so over looked. Start with 3 deep breaths every so often when you are riding. if you can do more even better- but it is easy for everyone to start with 3 deep breaths. It really is amazing how breathing can increase oxygen to your working body, relax your muscles, and the horse feel the changes resulting from the breathing as well. So remember: BREATHE