Once you’ve got an idea of how to sit on a horse, and have begun to walk, the next step is the trot. In some ways, this is the most difficult gait to master. It means feeling how the horse moves beneath you and fitting yourself into that movement.
For a rising trot, you will need to ‘post’ as the horse moves, alternately rising and sitting. To do this, you really need to be able to feel how your horse is moving, and get into a rhythm – at first, it seems incredibly uncomfortable as you bump up and down in the saddle, and for a while that rhythm is elusive.
Don’t give up – it will come with time!
And don’t push yourself too hard. It’s far better to get comfortable sitting and in the walk before you attempt to move on too quickly.
So how do you get into a trot?
Well, there’s the old leg kick, or ‘give it more leg’, as my first teacher said. But this isn’t good enough if you really want to get good with horses. Just like getting a horse into a walk, if you want to trot, you need the energy that makes a trot in your body. Once your body is moving and energized, your horse can trot. If you are just sitting and doing nothing, like a sack of potatoes, your horse is just carrying dead weight and hasn’t got the guidance or motivation to do anything else. Just sitting with no energy is the thing you need to do when you want to stop. So just sitting isn’t the thing that will get you going to any place soon if all the energy you’re prepared to muster is a kick with the legs. Those legs, that bum, that back, they all need to be alive and kicking to get you where you want to be.
Have you ever noticed how when someone who’s really good with horses gets on a horse that’s been moving really slow, it suddenly changes, becomes faster, more alive, more alert? That’s because they are actually riding, they have that energy, that movement.
So how do you start this energy off? Well, some people ‘peddle’ with their feet, because this makes the legs come alive, which links you with the horse. To begin with, make exaggerated peddling movements with your feet, up and down, not all up, and not all down. See how this soon makes your horse move. Once you’re used to it, these movements can become smaller, more internalized. Then, to move your upper body, move your arms, backward and forward with the rhythm of the horse. You’ll soon be flying – and this will be your next problem. Beginner horse riders often don’t want to go too fast too soon! But once you’ve got it, it’s time to canter!