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 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 again.

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 motion.

What to do 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
your body.
Woodland Horse Center
16301 New Hampshire Avenue, Silver Spring, MD 20905
301-421-9156          fax: 301-421-9049