Monday, October 13, 2008

Sitting trot versus rising trot

I started out riding at a children's hunter barn. My teenage instructors encouraged me to only post at the trot because it was better for the horse's back. And so I have always posted at the trot by default. However, as an adult, my instructor has encouraged me try more sitting trot with Armani. I'm finding that I'm better able to use my seat aids and that Armani feels more relaxed over the back.

Lately, I've been trying sitting to Huey's trot. Admittedly Huey's trot is a Ford to Armani's Cadillac. Huey lacks topline muscle and I suspect I'm the first rider to ask him to stretch and relax under saddle. However, as I began sitting trot with Huey, I immediately felt him relax his back. He stretched towards the contact and sighed.

Both my horses are more comfortable when I sit the trot. My conformation might explain it. I'm tall and rather - erm - top heavy. When I sit at the trot, my seat feels more engaged in rhythm with the motion. My seat is loosely coupled with the horse, connected but soft and actively following the motion. And as my seat follows, my core muscles stabilize my upper body. I picture hula-hooping or ballroom dancing with a partner. To quote Behind the Bit, "sit is a verb". There are a number of resources if you follow that link.

But doesn't that go against conventional wisdom? Scientists from Wageningen University in the Netherlands recently found that the extension of the back is similar in rising and sitting trot.

So perhaps the comparable comfort of sitting versus rising trot may depend on the rider, tack, and the horse. And that old conventional wisdom may not be true for everyone. Are you and your horses more comfortable with sitting or rising trot?


Grey Horse Matters said...

This is a hard one. Some horses I prefer to sit the trot and others I prefer the rising trot. So I'm no help on this one. It really depends on the horse and how they go.

allhorsestuff said...

HI there!
I am lookinfg forward to coming on back soon and reading more of you and your horses.
I think that my mare is done with the rising trot...she kikes me to be balanced and for some reason sitting is it for me and I am so glad we have come to an arrangement she and I!