From Endurance to Dressage
Sitting the Trot
It's not like it's great, but it's not too bad either. I am talking about my sitting trot. The non-dressage riders and the non-riders especially are probably wondering why anyone would want to sit the trot anyway. For most riders it can be the bounciest of the gates and really requires that most people figure out how to post. Just when I finally figured out how to post correctly, it became necessary to quit posting and sit.
The sitting trot discussion first came up when JL finally noticed, after two months, that I was standing to change my diagonals. With her simple, we need to fix that, I got busy. It took two weeks, but I taught myself how to sit through the change. Not only did I fix it, but I've got it down. Even Cha Ching's Mom was appreciative of my newly acquired skill.
Then came the 1 ... 2 ... Let ... Go ... lesson. Since I couldn't get organized with the counting and letting go and posting, I was forced to sit during all of the 1 ... 2 ... Let ... Gos. And since nothing is ever learned in one lesson, Sydney and I have continued the process. Some days it only takes a few 1 ... 2 ... Let ... Gos, sometimes I have to work at it for a while. All the while that I was 1 .. 2ing, I was unconsciously schooling myself on the sitting trot.
As I was perusing Confessions of a Struggling Dressage Rider, I came across the blogger's comment to a fellow reader:
Sitting the trot is an active movement unlike sitting in a chair. Your right or left hip will lift as the horse moves beneath you. If you’re not moving with the horse you’ll be left behind (pun intended) and bounce. If you allow your hips and bum to separately rise and fall (left hip up while right drops down) with the horse it has a side-to-side movement. To put it into a “real world” context think of riding a bicycle but pedal backwards. When I do it correctly, I can feel my bum in the saddle but my bones are moving around inside.
AHA!!!!! That made perfect sense. The next time I got on Sydney, I really focused on letting my legs hang down in a relaxed way and allowed each side of my seat bone to be lifted independently of the other. When I felt myself bouncing, I let go of my leg and thought about a pedaling motion. And there it was ... my sitting trot!
The real test came on Speedy G. He's not nearly as big as Sydney and his stride is shorter and quicker which translates into less hang time. Imagine pedaling that bicycle in a top gear; it takes a while for you to complete one revolution with the pedals. That's Sydney. Now shift that bicycle into a tiny gear; you now have to pedal super quick to get anywhere. That's Speedy G.
I started out bouncing, but I concentrated really hard on holding my core firmly and allowing my legs to drape. I imagined pedaling backwards, and within moments, I had it. I was sitting Speedy G's trot!
Now that I can sit the trot, my canter transitions are improving. When cueing Speedy for the canter, I've struggled because I couldn't sit that stride or two while I moved my inside leg forward and my outside leg back. And in Speedy's left lead canter, I have to push him slightly with the outside leg to keep him from bucking and kicking out. Cueing the canter, pushing his hindquarters in, and remaining steading in the rising trot have been difficult. During Saturday's lesson, JL instructed me to sit for a stride while I prepared for the cue. From the sitting trot I was much firmer with my outside leg and felt better balanced.
Oh, sitting trot, you are now my best friend!
10/11/2011 03:20:43 am
Good job! I still can't sit the trot well. It takes a lot of core strength to make it look easy and smooth. Do you do anything to help strengthen your core? I imagine riding two horses a night keeps you pretty fit already. :)
10/11/2011 11:50:08 am
Mia - I've done a variety of core stuff (balance ball, running, etc.), but it seems that I am at the point now where daily riding and barn chores are keeping me fit enough. Although according to Dressage Today, riding alone isn't enough. But really, who has time? The barn is my gym time. And don't be fooled, I ride both horses on weekends and summer/holidays, but while I'm working, I can only squeeze in one ride a night.
Leo's no better (but thanks for asking). The filling in his leg has solidified, and it's his heel he doesn't want to put down. I'm still holding out hope for an abscess, and really, really hoping it's not his suspensory (though he's still not reacting to palpation of the lower leg).
Hi Karen, I literally just stumbled upon this post and I'm so glad that my description of the sitting trot helped you. :) That's why I write my blog. I figure that if I'm having trouble someone else is too. Keep up the good work!
12/20/2011 10:13:38 am
Lee - thanks for reading and commenting. Your description of the sitting trot has been one of the most helpful tips I have come across. It helped me use both sides of my body independently, something I struggle with!
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About the Writer and Rider
I am a lifelong rider.
I began endurance riding in 1996 where I ultimately completed five, one-day 100 mile races, the 200-mile Death Valley Encounter, and numerous other 50, 65, and 75 mile races. I began showing dressage in 2010.
Welcome to my dressage journey.
About Speedy G
Speedy went from endurance horse to dressage horse. After helping me earn a USDF Bronze medal in the summer of 2020, he is now semi-retired. Speedy is a 2004, 15'1 hand, purebred Arabian gelding. His Arabian Horse Registry name is G Ima Starr FA.
Izzy was started as a four-year old and then spent the next 18 months in pasture growing up. I bought him as a six-year old, and together, we are showing at the lower levels. He is a 2008, 16'3 hand warmblood gelding. His Rheinland Pfalz-saar International (RPSI) name is Imperioso.
National Rider Awards
State Rider Awards
State Horse Awards
CDS Sapphire Rider Award
Third Level: 63.514%
Third Level: 62.105%
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