Foxy is the boss among the geldings, commanding their respect by his stoic
presence. Foxy likes to eat more than anything else in the world. He even
likes his worming paste. He has a knack for opening stall doors, a trick he's
mastered so he can get to the grain in the feed bin. Consequently, he has
a double lock on his door to prevent him from gorging himself and coming
down with a case of colic.
Despite his tough manner in the field, he's actually calm and cooperative
with riders. His only drawback is that, well, he's a bit bumpy. In fact, he's
been called the horse with square wheels. He teaches beginners to sit to
the trot in a hurry, or wish they had. His attitude seems to be, "Well, I may
not be happy about it, but it's time to go to work." Foxy walks nicely out of
his stall and to the ring. He stands quietly while you mount.
Following the Horse
Now you're ready for Foxy to trot. Think about what you're going to do: Roll
forward on your seat bones as Foxy's legs hit the ground and the shock
occurs; roll back in preparation for the next shock, and then roll forward
again. Rolling forward on your seat bones allows you to absorb shock. No
gripping! Here you go. Sit in your proper position, with legs gently against
Foxy. Ask him to trot. Roll forward with the shock, then back. Note that the
backward movement lasts just a fraction of a second. Forward with the
shock (and back). Forward with the shock.
What to do if...you can't maintain the sitting trot.
Beginning students often sit to the trot successfully the first few strides, only
to then have their position rapidly deteriorate. If this happens to you, it
means you're losing your balance. It also probably means you're gripping.
As soon as you start to lose your balance, stop the horse. Come to a full
halt, get a handle on the situation (notice I didn't say "get a grip"), and begin
What to do if...the horse keeps speeding up.
Your heels probably are up instead of down, and that's a sign of gripping.
New riders instinctively grip to help them stay in the saddle, but it doesn't
work, particularly in the sitting trot. Remember, gripping makes the horse
go faster, which will make you bounce more, which will make you grip more,
and so on, until you reach a full gallop. I have seen beginning riders fall off.
Don't grip. If you're bouncing, the horse may be going faster to escape the
discomfort. Try the sitting trot for only a few strides at a time -- not more
than 10 -- until you catch on. I promise it will be easier on both of you.
What to do if...your crotch is taking a beating.
You may be staying forward too long as you try to follow the horse's motion.
Your heels also may be up, causing you to fall forward a bit and lose your
balance. Stop and start over, thinking about keeping your proper position
and a low center of gravity. Most importantly, work on following the horse's
What to do if...you sway laterally.
If you seem to be uncontrollably shifting from left to right in the saddle, it
could be that your legs are coming off the horse. Here again, focus on
maintaining the proper position and a low center of gravity. Try to relax
your lower back. A stiff back may hinder you from following the roll of the
horse's motion with your hips, causing your lateral shift.
What to do if...your hands bounce high above the withers.
This is the most common criticism instructors have for students learning the
sitting trot. It takes time to learn to control your back and legs while steering
the horse at the same time. When you learn to control your seat, your
hands will follow. In the meantime, try to keep your arms and hands close to
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