The Trot

Once a horse is walking the aids for the trot are the same as for the walk. To ask a horse to trot you squeeze gently with your lower legs. The pressure applied should be greater than that applied just to keep the horse walking forward and so may require a gentle kick with your heels.

The trot is a "two step gait". This means that the horse moves its legs in pairs. It actually moves its legs in diagonal pairs, that is it lifts the left front (near fore) and right back (off hind) legs together and the right front (off fore) and left back (near hind) together.

As with the walk you can feel the body sway from side to side as each hind leg is lifted and moved forward.

Unlike the walk, the horse does not move its head forwards and backwards in the trot and so your hands can remain in the same position without restricting the horse's movement.

The trot can be ridden in two ways: sitting and rising. Rising Trot, once learnt, is easier and more comfortable for both the horse and the rider. However, it can take a lesson or two to pick it up so don't expect to learn it straight away.

horse riding - trotRising trot is done in the same rhythm in which the horse moves its legs. As one pair of the horse's legs land on the ground the rider sits, and then rises as the other pair of legs land on the ground. It is often difficult to keep up with the rhythm at first but much of this is due to a tendency to try too hard and rise too high out of the saddle.

Rather than thinking of rising you should think of pushing your hips upwards and forwards in a gentle "thrusting" movement. The lower leg should remain in the same position throughout and so it is only the upper leg that moves allowing the hips to move upwards and forwards and then back down into the saddle. As soon as your seat is returned to the saddle it should be on its way up again in a continuous movement. It often helps to listen to the beat of the horse's hooves on the ground and count one-two-one-two in time to the beats to co-ordinate the corresponding sitting and rising.

To ride on the "correct diagonal" the rider should sit as the inside hind leg hits the ground and rise as the outside hind leg hits the ground. However, this is usually something that is covered once the rider has mastered the rising trot and is covered in the Intermediate Riding Section.

horse riding - trotSitting trot although it may seem easier can be equally hard, if not harder, to learn. Due to the horse's bouncy stride in trot there is a tendency for the rider to become tense which results in the rider being bounced even more. The main thing with sitting trot is to try and relax, keep the legs relaxed and keep your back soft and relaxed. The more relaxed the rider, the less bouncy the trot feels. Relaxation in sitting trot will come with experience and confidence but to start with take deep slow breaths and try to relax. Although bouncing around you may feel the need to tense your legs and hang on try to avoid this as tensing the legs will not only make the horse feel you are asking him to go forward faster but will also result in your seat and back becoming tense, making the ride more uncomfortable for you both.