I know this good weather is only short lived but the warm sun and no breeze really picked up my mood. I even got to ride today at the trot!! PJ was so good despite all of the construction going on in the background. It was a lot of work for him to trot through the snow – like if we humans jogged in the sand at the beach (ahhh the beach).
I know I’m not the only one who has trouble sitting the trot. It seems to be the limiting factor in moving up the levels for a lot of us. One of my goals for this summer is to develop a descent sitting trot. Today was the perfect opportunity to practice because the snow forced PJ to use his hind end and round his back, and it also kept him fairly slow.
There is absolutely no way to ride sitting trot if your horse’s back is not up. The problem is that when we try to sit the trot but don’t have it quite right, we hurt the horse’s back and he stiffens or inverts to avoid the discomfort. It’s a catch-22. But the only way to learn to sit is to do it. Between what my instructor has taught me and what I’ve read in books, I’ve come up with a couple of tools for learning to sit the trot.
1) Go slow. Start by jogging (like a western horse), not trotting. Go as slow as you can at first. Once you can sit to that really slow jog, up the pace a little. Once you can sit at that pace, increase it a little more. Go up in increments until you reach normal trot rhythm, which could take months, so don’t get discouraged.
2) Only sit for brief periods. Sit for five or six (or two or three) strides and as soon as you feel yourself loose the rhythm, start posting again. This helps your horse keep his back up because he is only uncomfortable for a short time and then he’s comfortable again.
3) Pull yourself into the saddle with a bucking strap. Your arms will get tired but it helps you to feel the motion of the trot and how much you need to move in your core, without encouraging you to grip with your legs (which stiffens your seat – totally opposite of what you want). It also teaches you to open and close your elbows so you don’t end up banging your horse in the mouth with each stride.
Unfortunately, there are no easy tricks when learning to sit the trot. My plan is to practice a little every day. Wish me luck.