Confident Rider Challenge Day 26
Better late than never right? This is getting up late because I had to do the trotting in order to create the blog post. And since the forecasted high temperature is 95 degrees here, I had to get out and ride early. So about 2 hours after breakfast, Frisby got his work out.
And I splurged on Friday. Instead of going out to lunch all week, I saved that money and went to Dover Saddlery at lunchtime and bought a new saddle pad, which I am in LOVE with.
I love it so much, and I promise to do a full review on it soon. But for right now, isn’t it pretty???!?!?
And after I got the arena ready, and Frisby tacked up, it was finally time to trot. This is the first time I have trotted since surgery!
Time To Trot
I have to say that trotting is my favorite gait while riding. Is that crazy? I love to trot because it’s faster than a walk, it gives me a lot to concentrate on, but it’s not so fast that I feel I am out of control. Does that make sense?
And if you are just getting started with trotting, there are two different types of trot when riding English, well any discipline really. There is a rising trot, and a sitting trot. It is easier to do a rising trot to begin with, so that is what today’s post is all about.
Rising or Posting Trot
The trot is very distinct in its one-two, one-two rhythm. You can ‘feel’ this when you are on your horse. When the pairs of legs that are off the ground, and then return you get the one-two, one-two beat. You can even say out loud “one two, one two, one two”. And I find this helps when just getting back into the trot. By saying it out loud, you start focusing on the rise and fall of your horses hooves.
Rising trot is easier to ride than sitting trot because you rise with your horse. And the momentum of his movement helps to push you up (rising) out of the saddle. It’s easier on your horses back too because your butt isn’t slapping against the saddle, and his back with the bouncy rhythm.
Tips For Rising Trot
When you first start learning to rise in trot, it helps to keep your joints loose rather than tensing up. As you come back down into the seated position, you don’t want to hit the saddle with a thud. And if you are relaxed and loose, you will come down softer than if you were rigid and tense.
It’s also important not to grip the saddle with your knees. Because when you grip with your knees, you lose your lower leg and it tends to slip back. Instead, deepen your heel in your stirrup. Try to force your weight down, and into your heels. Try to think tall and raise your shoulders as you rise in the saddle. This should help you to relax. This should inevitably improve your rising trot and help you to relax.
Your Horse Has Rhythm
Like I said in the beginning, the trot has a very distinct beat. One-two, one-two, one-two. You can say it out loud as you trot around your arena. Or you can say “Up-down, up-down, up down” to help you rise and fall in the saddle. This will help you to be on the correct diagonal as you trot around and around.
What The Heck Is A Diagonal
You might be wondering what all the hub-bub is about being on the correct diagonal. I know I was at first. But being on the correct diagonal actually helps your horse to balance better and use his hind leg more efficiently. You see, when you are on the correct diagonal, and in the sitting phase the inside hind leg is pushing on the ground. And this leg can then better support your weight. And when we rise, that inside hind leg is coming off the ground. So your horse can pick up his leg easier.
It also makes rising (or posting) easier when you are on the correct diagonal. This will take time to be able to feel when this happens. So to get started, it helps to be able to see when this is happening.
How To Post
When you first start rising or posting trot, you can look down to your horses outside (Closest to the wall or fence of the arena) shoulder. But just glance down with your eyes, don’t lean forward to look down otherwise you will interfere with your horse’s balance. So look down at the shoulder, and when the shoulder goes back, your butt is in the saddle. When his shoulder is forward, you are out of the saddle.
I like to focus on the ‘down’ so instead of saying “1-2, 1-2,” I say “up-down, up-down.” And when the shoulder is back, that correlates to down, or my butt down in the saddle.
When I first started learning this in my lessons, I would say “back, back, back” when the shoulder was back. Then I transitioned to saying down. It made it easier for me to understand what my trainer was asking me to do when I would trot around on the very well-trained school horse. And I have been able to take that home and apply it to my riding while I am working with my own horses.
And it really does help to say the words out loud. “Down,down,down” as my butt is down in the saddle as we trot around and around. By saying the words, it helps to keep you focused on the task at hand, which of course is rising trot on the correct diagonal. It helps to know where your horse’s shoulder is, and the ‘down’ means the shoulder is back. Because when you are doing it, like really doing it, it happens fast!
Perfect Practice Makes Perfect
Once you are getting it, and you start to develop your feel for when your horse’s shoulder is back, it gets easier to feel than it is to glance down. And you will be able to just tell when you are on the correct diagonal, because of how it feels in the saddle.
Remember when we are rising or posting on the correct diagonal, we are helping our horses to be balanced on the circle and in their turns. And we are helping our horses to be able to move better, which in turn will help to improve the quality of their gaits.
All right, so I bet you know what today’s challenge is. Yes, today I want you to work on rising trot with your horse. Work on relaxing in the saddle, and really stretching down into your heels. Practice glancing down and being able to tell when your horse’s shoulder is back. And say the words out loud, either 1-2, 1-2 or down-up, down-up, or even just back, back, back, as his shoulder moves back. Start to focus on the feel, and what it feels like when you are rising on the correct diagonal.
With practice, repetition and consistency, you will be able to tell that you are on the correct diagonal without even looking down to his shoulder to help you. So get out there, and trot on your horse!