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!
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!