Hello again everyone! Today I'm going to elaborate a little on trotting and two styles that you will need to learn when you start riding. Firstly, let me explain what trotting is. Horses have four gaits or speeds. The walk, trot, canter and gallop. Walking is slow and steady while trotting is a lot more bouncy. The horse's legs move in pairs but not the way you might think. The front left and back right legs move together while the front right and back left legs move in synch. When you start trotting, you will feel a kind of 1-2-1-2 beat or rhythm.
So, what is sitting trot? It's simple to explain really. It just means that you need to sit tight without bouncing. Hold on tight with your thighs and knees while keeping your rear end firmly pressed against the saddle. Do not lift up or allow yourself to bounce. Your horse will certainly not enjoy a sack of potatoes on his back! Remember to sit up straight and use your abdominal muscles to hold your position. Keep your upper body relaxed and focus on keeping your legs still. If you knock your lower leg against the horse's belly, he will speed up. For a sitting trot, you want to keep your horse at a relaxed pace.
Rising trot, or posting, is a little bit different. You will need to stand up slightly in the saddle and sit back down. The pace at which you will do this is determined by the length of your horse or pony's legs as well as how fast they are trotting. On the 1 beat you stand up and on the 2 you sit back down. Now, you don't need to stand all the way up. You just need to rise slightly out of the saddle and move your pelvic area a little bit forward. Keep your knees bent even while trotting. If your legs are straightening out completely, it is clear that you are rising to high and it's both untidy and unnecessary. Put all your body's weight into your heels and push them down as you rise up. When you sit back down, do so gently. Don't flop down onto your horse's back.
If you are riding in an arena, you will have a so-called outside and inside. Your outside is the side closest to the fence and your inside is that closest to the middle of the arena. When posting (rising trot), you need to be on the correct diagonal. That means rising and sitting on the correct beat. While riding, peer down with your eyes only and focus on the outside shoulder. Remember, your outside is the side closest to the fence. As the shoulder moves forward, you need to rise. As is move backwards, you need to sit down. If you are going to change direction through the middle of the arena, you will need to sit for two beats before rising again. This is called changing diagonals. Being on the correct diagonal is really important as it helps both horse and rider keep their balance.
It is also important to be on the correct diagonal when entering the third gait. Your third gait or speed is the canter. If you are on the wrong diagonal, your horse is more likely to strike off (start) with the wrong leg. If this happens, your canter will feel really wobbly. We will discuss some more about this next time as it's a subject all on it's own!