Seat series part 3 – sitting trot 1
I am splitting sitting trot into two parts as it is quite a large topic as so many people have different problems. This part will deal with problem areas, and the second part will deal with helpful exercises to improve your sitting trot.
The biggest problem I see people have is bouncing around in the saddle. The second biggest problem would be full body tension. They both stem from the same area – a lack of softness and willingness to go with the movement of the horse. This is often a subconscious unwillingness and can be incredibly frustrating to deal with.
Once the rider stops moving with the horse they tend to bounce out of the saddle, this causes them to grip hard with their legs in an effort to stay on, which causes them to lift up out of the saddle and grip even more. Gripping the leg, especially the knee, can also indicate to your horse that you want them to slow down or collect a little – making the trot even bouncier. This type of bouncing can be fixed by relaxing the leg and pushing the knee away from the saddle whilst keeping your toe pointing forwards.
Full body tension, often stems from this leg/knee gripping and bouncing and is generally seen in a stiffening of the whole body which makes the bounce hard and unforgiving – this is the sitting trot that hurts. Tension is also added by the rider forgetting to breathe because they are so focussed on staying on during their uncomfortable bouncy trot. By not breathing you often feel over tired and out of breath after a bout of attempting sitting trot, which makes you feel like you never want to do it again! This can be sorted by relaxing the leg and breathing. Try singing or counting if you aren’t sure if you are breathing.
The last problem and hardest to self diagnose is either, what I call the floppy core problem, or the stiff back problem. They are different causes for the same result – a hunched unflexing torso. Engaging your core is essential in sitting trot, as is having a soft lower back. This part of your body is where a lot of the movement gets absorbed. If you have a stiff back you’ll bounce, if you have a floppy core you’ll collapse, tip forwards, and bounce. You must be careful not to over soften the lower back as that can cause problems too, although this is not an issue I see regularly!
So problems and briefly how to work on them. The general rule with sitting trot is relax, relax even if you think you are all ready relaxed! Keep your core engaged and your lower back soft. open your hips to relax your legs and keep your knee away from the saddle.
Please do tell me your sitting trot problems in the comments, and maybe in the next Tip where I will discuss targeted exercises to help improve your sitting trot you’ll find an answer!
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