Opposite diagonal when counter bending?

Is it true that you’re supposed to switch diagonals when counter bending the horse at the trot? For example, going left with the counter bend right, you are then supposed to rise up as the INSIDE front leg is coming forward? I was never taught that and a friend of mine said that’s what you’re supposed to do. I always thought diagonals were about direction, not bend, so you would therefore continue to rise out of the saddle with the outside front leg coming forward, regardless of the bend. I feel like my whole life may have been a lie! Was anyone else taught this way?

When schooling in counter flexion I often switch my diagonal. Its about supporting the hind leg versus about direction or bend

So what I’ve always been told is that if you’re just counter bending for a few steps, there’s no need to switch the diagonal. If I were counter bending for longer, then I would. If you’re doing lateral work, you should sit when the inside hind leg (relative to the bend) is on the ground. That helps you influence the horse more and ask for more engagement. So if I were doing travers (haunches out), I would want to switch my diagonal to help support the outside hind leg.

This article might help: https://dressagetoday.com/theory/purpose-posting-trot-outside-diagonal-heather-mason

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Diagonals have nothing to do about direction. Period. It originally was bout rider comfort when traveling long distances. In a straight line on a road, what is the correct diagonal? Sadly, you were taught absolutely incorrectly.

Diagonals are about balance and encouraging equal balance on the limbs. In the old long format 3-day, we would go 10 minutes or so on one diagonal and the swap every 10 minutes to develop an equal musculature in the horse.

For training, the diagonal can be used to train/balance a horse. For instance posting on the inside diagonal on a circle can encourage the outside hind to swing though more than normal, thus developing in the haunches equally.

For counter flexion work, sometimes I will swap and sometime I won’t depending on where the weak leg is located so I can encourage its strengthening.


I was taught to post in the direction of bend, not travel, in dressage. Including beginning shoulder in. I’ve always found it easier to sit the trot for lateral moves though.


Interesting topic! Something I have never thought about because I seem to always sit the trot in my lateral work.

That is an interesting article, but the author should know better than to think that you can influence a leg that is weight-bearing. In fact, it is physically impossible. You can only influence a leg during its flight.
Try riding leg-yield from the quarter line to the wall on both the inside and outside diagonals. I think you will soon determine which is more effective.

I read it differently. I interpreted that paragraph as saying that the signal is given at the moment that the limb is weight-bearing, but by the time the signal is received by the horse, the leg is in the air. So the cue is given before the horse can respond, but it is received and interpreted when it can be acted upon.

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