Sitting trot is one of the most difficult things to do well in riding. The sitting trot requires that the rider moves with and absorbs the motion of the horses’ back with their body. This requires strength, flexibility, and timing from the rider. The MOST COMMON mistakes that riders make in the sitting trot are:
1. Sitting Still - even though it looks like the rider is sitting perfectly still on the horse, they are actually moving A LOT. The rider has to move in perfect harmony and absorb all of the motion of the horses’ back with their spine and body. In sitting trot, the rider is moving their pelvis, hips, lower back, elbows, and even their ankles to absorb the motion of the horse!
2. Gripping with the leg - often riders use the lower leg and their heel to keep themselves on the horse. This can cause the rider to loose their stirrup, the horse to speed up, and the rider to bounce more as they raise their center of gravity up and away from the horse. It is important in the sitting trot to keep the leg long and think of dropping the heel down to the ground with every step. The upper leg and the correct movement in the spine and hip will keep the rider in the saddle without needing to grip with the leg.
3. The bobble head - Have you ever seen someone in sitting trot that bobbles their head around? This is incorrect and comes from a tightness in the lower back. The head and neck of the rider should not bounce with the trot. This will cause neck problems and likely give the rider a headache. Instead think about sitting the trot below the waist and keeping the head and neck out of it!
4. Slowing the trot down - many of us, without realizing we are doing it, actually slow the horse down and make the horse trot less so that we can more easily sit their trot. The beauty of dressage is training the horses to move with expression and volume in their stride so taking this away from the horse in order to sit the trot is not a good thing. Instead, work on the quality of sitting trot rather than the quantity. Work on sitting the big forward trot for just a half of a circle and then go back to the rising trot instead of slowing the horse down and making them trot less.
Here are a few more tips to consider for the sitting trot:
- Make sure the horse is on the bit and the back is up before sitting the trot
- “Quality over quantity” - the horses’ do not like riders bouncing on their sensitive backs and it will make them uncomfortable and sore
-It is easiest to work on the sitting trot from the walk (ie. Walk to sitting trot back to walk)
- Add exercises to your workout routine when not riding to improve core strength, flexibility, and stamina!
Keep up the good work!
Amelia Newcomb is a top Grand Prix rider and trainer who is passionate about educating Dressage enthusiasts around the world. Through her videos, blogs, social media posts, and e-mails, Amelia hopes to help teach correct dressage training and good horsemanship to as many people as possible!