Basics of Riding

How To Ride Horse || The Posting Trot

Dear Newb,

Once you are ready to move past the walk and go a bit faster you will learn how to ride the trot. You can either sit the trot or post the trot. For the first time you may sit the trot to get a feel for it. But it is more likely than not that you will be focusing on learning the posting trot because it is more comfortable for the horse and rider and it is easier for the beginner rider to learn rhythm and balance.

The trot is a two beat gait and the horses legs move in diagonal pairs.

In this post I will share with you what a good posting trot looks like, how to ask the horse to trot, how to ride the posting trot, how to ask the lazy horse to get into the trot or keep trotting, and how to ask the horse to walk from the trot.


What does a good posting trot look like?

In a good posting trot the horse is moving forward in a regular two beat rhythm, where the tempo stays the same. The horse is relaxed and supple over his back. The riders leg from the knee down should remain stable. The seat will rise and sit with the rhythm of the trot and the horses natural bounce helps to bring the seat out of the saddle, along with using the inner thigh and knee. The seat should not go straight up and down but roll forward and back, where when risen the weight is transfer down into the thigh. Head should remain over shoulders and the shoulders over the hips. The rider should rise with the outside front leg as it comes forward. Meaning the leg closer to the outside of the circle, the fence, the turn etc.

Common Errors In The Posting Trot

Unbalanced leaning too far forward.

Double bouncing in the trot.

Banging back into the saddle

Losing balancing and jerking horse in the mouth

Unbalanced leg position (too forward or too far back)

Rising striaght up and down instead of rolling forward and back

Rising too high

KEEP IN MIND: Each horse is trained a bit different. Riding is more of an art than a science. Ask the owner or trainer what signals the horse recognizes for whatever you are wanting to ask the horse. I am just telling you the signals I use on my own horses.

How To Ask The Horse To Trot

1) Preparation:
So your horse should be walking in a forward walk not brambling lazily along. You want to prepare and signal subtly to your horse that you are going to ask for a transition. Shorten up your reins if needed, look where you want your horse to go and stretch tall to lighten your seat bones.

2) Signal horse to Trot on:
Close both of your calves on the horse’s sides and pulse with your calves, as this creates more energy than just one long squeeze. Yield your reins slightly while still maintaining contact. Continue until your horse trots.

3) Release
As soon as the horse trots sit a couple strides and begin posting. Sometime the horse may need a few more squeezes after picking up the trot to send the horse forward to the desired trot speed.

TIP: Breathing in lightens your seat. Breathing out deepens your seat. So for upward transition think breathing in and getting lighter.


Riding The Posting Trot

I mentioned quite a bit about riding the posting trot above under the question what does a good posting trot look like. I will briefly review riding the posting trot.


When you are sitting in the saddle, ear, shoulder, hip and heel should line up. Now as you rise your lower leg should not move you are not standing in the stirrups. Everything from the knee down should remain fairly stable. when you rise forward your ear, shoulder and hips should still be aligned.


As you are posting your hands should remain steady, they should not rise and fall with your posting. Keep your hands in the same spot. As you rise your elbows should open and as you sit your elbows should close. This allows for a consistent, contact with the horse’s mouth and less chance of jerking the bit.


You should roll your hips forward and back in time with the horses two beat footfalls. As the outside front leg comes forward you should rise and as it goes back you should sit. As you rise squeeze your thighs and knees a bit instead of standing in the stirrups, which causes your knee to brace and your lower leg to move out of place. You will see if you take your feet out of the stirrups and try to post you use your thighs to do so. Also as you ride and come forward let your weight drop into your thighs.

How To Get The Lazy Horse To Trot

Like I have said in other posts, beginner riders tend to get put on lazier horses that are a bit dull to the aids.  Sometimes these lazy horses may just walk faster when you ask them to trot or you may get them to trot but then they just come right back down to the walk. The horse is testing you and seeing how much he can get away with. I believe you have to be clear, consistent and patient.

So asking for the trot like before lighten your seat, yield the reins a little and pulse with your calves on the horses sides. If the horse is not responding you may have to squeeze harder, if that doesn’t working use your heels, and if that doesn’t work give him a kick or several good kicks. Some horses may need a crop, depending on how much they ignore your aids.

Your signals should get progressively stronger and be clear to the horse that you want him to move forward. Once the horse responds and moves up to a trot relax and begin posting. If the horse slows down and breaks into a walk repeat but start with the lightest signal first and progressively get stronger as needed. Once you get the horse trotting and you are posting, give him some quick squeezes as you sit to tell the horse to move more forward. When he responds relax. If you feel the horse slow down in the trot catch him before he breaks into the walk, send him forward again in the trot and when he responds relax. Repeat the process, until the horse maintains the speed on his own.


How To Ask The Horse To Walk From The Trot

1) Preparation:
So your horse is trotting at this point. Just like anytime you are going to ask the horse something new you want to prepare and signal subtly to your horse that you are going to ask for a transition. Give a couple squeezes on the reins to let the horse know your about to ask something.

2) Signal horse To Come Down To The Walk:
Sit into the saddle closing both of your calves on the horse’s sides. Take contact with both reins and apply light pressure with squeezes until the horse comes down to a walk.

3) Release
As soon as the horse comes down to a walk release the rein pressure and follow the horses movement in the walk.

TIP:  Breathing out deepens your seat. So for downward transition think breathing out and sitting deeper into the saddle.



Cheers and God Bless!


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