Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Sitting trot: A rider's lament

On a hot day in the summer of 2006, my husband Bob snapped 20 photos of Harvey and I. Pictured left is a shot of us in working trot, sitting. Even in this headless shot, you can tell that the chin, hip, and heel are aligned. I'm proud of this photo. Too bad the other 19 look nothing like it.
The other 19 shots look like this. This could be a textbook picture of a chair seat, except that I'm not actually seated. My butt appears to be hovering somewhere over the back of the cantle. Toes down, knees up, waist collapsed, seatbones airborne. I'm trying to imagine a rider position that is less influential, and I'm drawing a blank.

What I learned from these photos is that in the down phase of the trot (two diagonal pairs on the ground), my position is pretty good. In the up phase, when the horse is airborne, my upper body collapses, maybe to absorb the upward motion. My back is absorbing the motion, which is not good, but I need to know what corrections are needed to sit properly.

Here are the results of some research on sitting trot and the dressage seat. As you read through these, one thing is clear: sit is a verb. The impression of rider stillness is an impression only; the body is supposed to be making constant adjustments to stay in concert with the horse.


Two Practical Horseman articles (get from publisher or ask your local library to obtain them for you). These are the penultimate guides to sitting trot, IMHO.

  • You CAN Sit the Trot REALLY! Sandy Howard. Practical Horseman. West Chester: Sep 2006. Vol. 34, Iss. 9; p. 56 (8 pages). Covers the role of the hip flexors in sitting the trot without bouncing. Great illustrations.
  • You CAN Sit the Trot REALLY!Sandy Howard. Practical Horseman. West Chester: Oct 2006. Vol. 34, Iss. 10; p. 66 (7 pages). Tips on finding a neutral spine and an analysis of desired rider positon/actions at each phase of the trot.

Centered Riding
Wow, Google has Sally Swift's Centered Riding online!

Improving the Dressage Seat (Equisearch article)
A nice basic article.

Improve your seat with Michelle Gibson from Dressage Today March/April 1997

Equi-Stretch®: Strengthening and Stretching Techniques for the Rider
From the Nov 2006 USDF convention, a brief overview of the techniques with link to videos (sale-oriented).

Rider’s Seat and Correct Basics Stressed By U.S. Olympian Lisa Wilcox
A lot of the same advice from the DT clinics, but for those who don't get this magazine it may be new info.

ClassicalDressage.com article on Sitting Trot
Thanks Wiola for suggesting this link! It stresses the need for a cooperative horse and soft back to really do a correct sitting trot.

AAHS previews the secureseat method. University of Vermont. Exercises for body control, with the goal of achieving a deep seat.

Jane Myers - Independent Seat Clinic review
The theme is getting your leg under you, with some nice exercises.

Biomechanics of the dressage seat. Miami of Ohio.
Illustrations and text examining musculature/biomechanics of the horse and rider seat and influence on the horse. Concise, but not as thorough as other guides I have seen in print.

Balanced Rider
Very detailed analysis of biomechanics, plainly written with nice illustrations. Not a lot of information about the author though.

Ultimate Dressage posts on sitting trot
Hint: Look for posts from the user Katherine. She can be blunt but her posts are very detailed and useful in getting a picture of the ideal dressage seat.
Explain sitting trot
Effect of sitting trot on my horse
Sitting trot with stirrups
Sitting trot and half halt
Sitting trot and chair seat
Sitting trot and weight in stirrup
Floppy midsection

Chronicle of the Horse posts
Sitting Trot!
Sitting the extended trot
How do you find your dressage seat
How to stop gripping with thighs
Sitting the extended trot
Balance, seat and hip problems
How do you find your dressage seat
Are dressage saddles hard on horses' backs?

Please send useful links that you know. I'll be adding to this list!

For those of you who have made it this far down: My position and sitting trot have a long way to go, but there has been improvement (this shot is from early fall). Here we are in an up phase, a little perchy but maintaining seatbone contact. I'm still a little collapsed through the shoulder and spine. But better, I think.

1 comment:

  1. You have some great resources here!! I will be exploring more in a minute :)
    Meanwhile one more:


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