Congratulations! You’re ready to learn how to sit the trot! Sitting the trot is infamous for causing some discomfort and frustration because it takes practice.
And even with practice, it sometimes doesn’t quite click immediately.
Meanwhile, riders are bouncing around, causing themselves and their horse some discomfort along the way. But we don’t want that to be your experience.
This post will give you some tips to help shorten the learning curve on how to sit the trot.
Sitting the trot is very similar in both English and Western; however, there are some differences. Western riders often refer to the trot as a “jog,” but in this post, we will use the term trot throughout.
Also, a Western saddle structure naturally allows for a deeper seat because the stirrups are longer.
If you are learning in a saddle other than a Western saddle or a Dressage saddle, try lengthening your stirrups by a hole or two and see if that makes a difference for learning.
With that, let’s get into the four things that can help you learn how to sit the trot.
How to Sit the Trot: Know the Gait
Why is the trot so hard to sit in the first place? The trot is the bumpiest stride your horse has. However, it is also the most efficient for covering long distances with minimal effort for your horse.
The stride itself has two beats, where the legs move in diagonal pairs. The two-beat nature of the gait is what makes it so natural to post the trot.
Posting the trot is where the rider lifts out of the saddle on alternate beats of the gait, thereby minimizing the contact with the saddle when the bump is at its worst.
This is because as the horse’s movement lifts the rider out of the saddle, the rider simply follows that movement and temporarily leaves the saddle instead of resisting.
People post the trot in both English and Western disciplines; however, Western typically defaults to sitting the trot, whereas English disciplines default to posting.
How to Sit the Trot: Perfect Your Posture
Posture is essential to comfortably sit the trot for each horse and rider. The trot is the bounciest gait that your horse has, and as the ride gets bumpy, your first instinct may be to tense up.
That impulse will only make it harder to learn how to sit the trot. Instead, relax into the movement and allow that softness to absorb each bounce in your horse’s stride.
Once you have made sure to stay relaxed, take a look at your posture. You do not want to be in front of or behind the horse’s movement, i.e., leaning forward or back.
By imagining a string attached to the top of your head pulling your body upward like the strings on a puppet, you will find the sweet spot in your posture and soon learn how to sit the trot.
Finding the proper angle for your posture is vital to learning how to sit the trot because if you lean forward, your back and hips aren’t able to move with your horse’s step, and you’ll quickly start bouncing around.
And if you lean back, you may have more ability to follow the movement, but you’re putting a lot of strain on your back.
How to Sit the Trot: Learning on the Lunge Line
Learning to sit the trot while also keeping your heels down, head up, looking where you want to go, directing your horse, and avoiding other riders is a lot to handle all at once when you’re just beginning.
To allow yourself to concentrate on learning how to sit the trot, rope in a friend who is savvy at lunging horses to help (see what I did there?).
Lunge line work is beneficial to learning because you won’t have to think about anything but sitting the trot.
Lunging is where the horse is attached to a long rope (the lunge line) and works in circles around the person holding the rope in the center of the circle.
That person is in control of the horse’s speed and direction, leaving you free to focus on relaxing those muscles, following the movement of the trot, and keeping your posture pulling up.
When learning how to sit the trot on the lunge line, you can take your feet out of the stirrups. This lengthens the leg and deepens the seat.
You won’t be able to stand up out of the saddle as easily, and so you’ll have to focus on absorbing the movement even more.
How to Sit the Trot: Fit Your Saddle
You know how important it is that your saddle fits your horse, but it is also important that your saddle fits you.
If the saddle is too big, it will be hard to learn how to sit the trot. Likewise, if the saddle is too small, you will not be able to comfortably sit the trot either.
It can help you to go to a tack shop and sit in the available saddles if you are trying to find your fit. However, you can get a reasonable estimate by using this saddle sizing tool.
The average Western saddle seat size is 15 inches, which is likely what size your borrowed saddle is.
A well-fitting saddle should have room for three fingers between your thigh and the swell. If your current saddle is too big for you, try out a smaller size.
The High Horse Mineral Wells Trail Saddle 6812 is highly rated and goes down to a 13.5-inch seat. But if your current saddle is too small for you, check out the Tucker Saddles Old West Trail Saddle 277 since it goes all the way up to 18.5-inches.
Also, make sure your stirrups are the correct length for balanced riding. Your feet should not be out in front of you. Instead, there should be a line from your shoulders, hips, and heels.
Sitting the Trot: Try Other Horses
Every horse is different. It can help you learn how to sit the trot to make sure you are getting practice time in on different horses.
Some horses have more of an up-down movement at the trot, while others may have a forward-back movement. Some horses take small steps; others have a longer extension.
By trying different horses when you are learning how to post the trot, you give yourself the chance to learn on a more comfortable horse.
Also, by learning how to sit the trot on various horses, you have more opportunity for “aha” moments; things may click on one horse, and you can translate that to other horses.
In conclusion, learning to sit the trot can be difficult at first.
However, by knowing the gait, perfecting your posture, learning on the lunge line, checking your saddle fit, and trying various horses, you can become a pro at sitting the trot.
The final stage of learning any skill is teaching it to someone else. So, once you have the technique down, show someone else how to sit the trot.
Was this post helpful to your learning how to sit the trot? I’d love to hear your experience. Another post you may find helpful to read is Gaited Horse Saddles for the Perfect Walk, Trot, Canter.
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