How to Post the Trot on Your Horse
If you have ever experienced a sitting trot, you know that the bounce is real—sometimes too real. Not to mention riders with tailbone or back injuries, sometimes the sitting trot just isn’t the right option. It can take tons of time to master properly so that it is comfortable for you and your horse.
Enter: the posting trot. While posting can take some serious work and coordination, it is a necessary skill to master in order to ride most English disciplines correctly.
What is Posting?
Posting requires a rider to rise up and sit back down in the saddle to the timing of their horse’s gait. Most commonly done at the trot, posting helps riders avoid excessive bouncing and tends to be more comfortable for the rider and the horse. Riders posting at the trot will have to coordinate leg strength and balancing from the core in order to post effectively and in time with their horse or pony.
How Do I Post Correctly?
Like any new riding skill, posting can be difficult to master and it isn’t as simple as those on the ground make it sound (“Up, Down, Up, Down” is only a piece of the puzzle!) Riders must engage their entire body to post correctly and maintain their rhythm and balance.
A correct posting trot for the rider should include the following:
- Heels remain down as you go up
- Riders should avoid swinging their legs back and forth
- Body should remain on the vertical, not falling forward or reclining back
- Post should start from the lower leg
- Riders should push themselves up, not pull from the reins
- Rider should rise slightly above the saddle
- Don’t work harder than you need to! Let the natural bounce help you up.
- Rider should sit back down in the saddle with control
- Think of lifting weights or doing a squat, you are cheating yourself (not to mention annoying your horse) if you let gravity do all the work.
- Think as if there is something soft and breakable underneath you as you come down, like an egg. Sit down in the saddle so as to not crack that egg!
What is a a Diagonal? How Do I Find Mine?
A posting diagonal refers to the shoulder or leg which you follow in order to time your posts to your horse’s rhythm. Posting diagonals provide a sense of balance to your horse and help you as a rider stay in time with the horse’s rhythm. Depending on the direction you are tracking, the shoulder you pay attention to will change.
To be on the correct diagonal, you should be moving up as the horse’s outside front leg moves forward, and then down in time with the same leg. If you find yourself confused by inside versus outside or just can’t remember, try the common saying: “Rise and Fall with the Shoulder on the Wall.” The horse’s outside leg will be the leg that is closest to the wall (or fence if you are riding outdoors) and that is the leg you should follow as you bop up and down around the ring. Just remember that if you change directions, you should always change your diagonal!
If you find yourself posting to the wrong leg, have no fear! You can change your diagonal while staying in the trot by interrupting your rhythm. Instead of continuing “up, down, up, down” you should think “up, down, down, up.” Sitting an extra beat will help you get in sync with your horse and make things more comfortable all around.
Training Tips and Tricks for the Posting Trot
- Find yourself relying too much on your hands for balance? Find a partner who can put you on a lunge line. You should try dropping your reins (always tie them up for safety) and attempt posting without any hands. Start with your hands on the saddle to give yourself balance and then gradually move your hands up and away. You can go full airplane out to the sides, or put your hands on your hips. Just try for one or two at first and build up gradually. Eventually, your body will learn to compensate for the lack of hands and start to use your core and legs more efficiently.
- Don’t be afraid to say your “Up, Down, Up, Down” out loud! No matter your age or your ability level, nearly every rider struggled with their diagonals at some point! Adding auditory cues on top of the feel of the horse can really round out a learning experience for some.
- Add some color to get the hang of your diagonals! There are a variety of ways to do this. You can take two different-colored polo wraps and wrap each front leg in a different color. As you track left you will always follow one color, and as you track right you can follow the other. Alternatively, you can use some tape or paint to mark each shoulder to follow in different directions. For some riders, visual cues are key!
While posting can be considered a basic skill, it is not basic to master. Remember that every other rider out there had to learn at some point, and however you can make it click is the right way for you.
Were these tips and tricks helpful? Do you have any others to offer? Let us know in the comments below!