Saturday, October 16, 2010

Sitting Trot

I haven't been sitting the trot lately, partly because Spider was out of shape and partly because I thought he was lame. Turns out he wasn't lame, I just forgot how to ride. Anyway, I attempted sitting trot today, for the first time in at least six months (probably longer). It did not turn out well. I probably should have seen that coming.

I actually didn't even set out with sitting trot in mind. I was going to do changes through the trot to prepare for simple changes. Spider has a flying change already, and sometimes a simple change, but we haven't done them in a great while (like, since last year). I wanted to start with something easy. Ha!

So, this was the set up: I was going to ride a figure eight, doing the change through trot in the center. In retrospect, I probably should have attempted the change across the diagonal of the arena, rather than attempting it on a 20m circle. But, hey, why not go for broke?

In asking for the change through trot, I knew I would have to sit the trot for 2-3 strides (or 4-5... it has been awhile since we've attempted anything like this). No big deal, right? Wrong. As soon as Spider made the downward transition I started flopping around on his back like a dying fish. Somehow, through my flailing and flopping, I managed to change direction and get him to pick up his left lead for the next half of the figure eight. It wasn't pretty. At the next change, he picked up the wrong lead, due to my utter inability to give a decent cue through my bouncing. *Note to self, Spider is fit enough to counter-canter... nice!

Obviously, someone needed to work on sitting trot. So, I abandoned my changes and took up a 20m circle. First I did walk to trot transitions. I trotted him until I started to bounce, then went back to walk. Then back to trot. Then back to walk. You get the idea. I don't know how long we did that, but I have a headache now. And a backache. And my hips hurt.

This story doesn't have a happy ending, yet. My hips are very tight, they need to learn to be loose again so that they can swing with the horse, instead of bouncing me around. We'll keep working on it. We'll get there.


  1. I feel your pain. We haven't worked on sitting trot in quite awhile because it seems a bit silly to work on it when your horse isn't consistently round, with lifted back - else you're just making the hollowing worse.

    I think she's at the point now where she can carry herself and me, which of course makes it way easier to sit. Another thing to tack onto the 'to do' list this winter...

    I wish my horse had flying changes :D

  2. All Dawn and I do is sitting trot, since, although I can post bareback, it's not much fun. For me the key is keeping my hips open - no pinching with the knees, and also allowing my lower back to move properly. All easier said than done!

  3. Ah, I am lucky. I did not lose my ability to sit the trot. And I need to work on it to get Chance to learn how to lift his back under me, so that's what I'm in for.

    Sometimes, putting your hand under the pommel of the saddle and king of thinking, "hip towards your hand," helps. The added security of holding the saddle lets you loosen those muscles instead of feeling the need to grip.

    You'll get it. Just be as patient with yourself as you are learning to be with Spider.

  4. Val and I are far from sitting to the trot (correctly), but I recently had a revelation about my hips. When I can concentrate on keeping my lower leg on (not knee), I immediately feel my hips opening.

    And yoga :)

  5. Ugh. I so need to work on this. Not the funnest thing ever.

  6. Take easy Lady, you just had a baby! How old is you little man?
    You are not fit to sit the trot but you sit the canter, righ?
    Have you started physio/rehab/ pilates after Baby number 2?

    I am sure your hips will come back.

    I have solved my sitting trot problem by buying an easy to sit horse, or you must collect the horse.

    In any way, take it easy. I have asked the reiner trainer about "forward". He replied that usually it means the horse is behind the legs. He said something interesting:
    -to ask the horse to go forward using rythmical pressure (very light bump with calves, he demonstrated for me on a young horse),
    - when horse arrives to speed live him alone.
    Until now, this explanation is banal, it is 101 horse-riding.
    - Then he added to STOP the horse as a reward.O_o
    Basically when the horse is moving like you want, you stop as a reward. Then you ask again a bit longer, then you stop.
    I did not expect the stopping. But in reining the reward is to be left alone.

    Let me know what you think ^-^

  7. Thanks for the reminder, Muriel! Sometimes I forget that my son is only four months old. I guess I should cut myself some slack. I'm doing tons of yoga and Pilates, although only the beginner stuff with Pilates. I'm still not strong enough for the Teaser or even Roll-ups, yet.

    Interesting on the stopping being the reward. In dressage the reward is also to be left alone (although I see far too many "busy" riders who haven't learned that). You give the cue, then allow the horse to comply until you say "don't do that anymore". If the horse stops before he is told to, the cue is given again (in operant conditioning theory, this is known as negative reinforcement).

    I've never heard of anyone stopping the horse completely as a reward, though. Generally, the reward is to not give the cue anymore. I would think a clever and lazy horse would soon start stopping all on his own, since this is the way he has always been rewarded. But then, the reining trainer probably has much more finesse for these things than I do. It's an interesting idea, but I don't know that I'd try it.

    Although, I do always try to end a training session on a good note. If we are doing something very difficult or trying something new, I will often stop the session the first time the horse gets it right. I suppose that is similar to what the reining trainer does.


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