Sitting the trot better

i have trouble staying organized and not pulling on the horse’s mouth when sitting the trot. How do you sit the trot and not be as bouncy?

You do a lot of riding at the walk with no stirrups and your hands on your head. And a couple steps at the trot with no reins and stirrups.

when my daughter started to get handsy for balance with her pony, I put her on an old, round, slow quarter horse mare and made her ride with. A halter and lead rope for months until she was comfortable at a walk and trot bareback. Then she got her saddle back after she’d developed a seat.

what does your trainer say?


@tinah My trainer tells me to drop my irons and work without them and to relax and sit back, basically

Find an instructor who can longe you.

You have to learn to relax your glutes, and allow your hips to follow the movement. Any resistance to the movement will make you bounce. Then, once you learn to sit the trot, you have to learn to work within it,. It never ends.


I watched a video once of a dressage rider explaining how to sit the trot without bouncing and she said that you need to take the “impact” of the bounce in your ankles rather than your back, or trying to death grip with your legs (which I have a tendency of doing). When I focus on allowing my ankles to work as a shock absorber, I find it way easier to sit and be soft in my seat. This may not work for everyone but I find it works for me.


My old school trainer would have us ride bareback and/or without stirrups to develop balance/seat.

I found the book “Centered Riding” by Sally Swift to be very helpful. It’s great at giving visualizations to improve position/balance/seat. Very easy to read too!


One of the biggest things to remember with the sitting trot is if you’re bouncing excessively, odds are good you’re carrying tension somewhere. Now the problem is isolating where your problem spots are.

I will say that of the H/J riders I’ve seen come to do dressage lessons with my trainer, many of them have a habit of trying to brace in their stirrup iron. They jam their heel down and get tight in their knee/clamp with the thigh/have tight glutes/abs to try to control their own motion. Unfortunately, that’s the opposite of productive.

The softer you can be, the more able your body will be to follow the horse’s movement & naturally absorb any shock/movement.

Some thoughts: Sometimes more is less. Five or ten steps of quality sitting trot before you post (or transition into the walk to re-group) can be more productive than fighting three laps to try to get better. Take the time to organize yourself. Get a quality walk with appropriate contact, and then have a quality trot before you even venture into the realm of sitting. The more you can elongate your torso (think “long spine” - open up your hip angle and make sure you aren’t leaning/dropping your chest especially. This is another H/J tendency I see crop up sometimes in my trainer’s lessons with non-dressage riders. Closed hip & ducking/dropping the chest & shoulder) the better off you are. Make sure your pelvis isn’t tilting down. Some imagery I’ve heard related to the pelvis thing: If you’re wearing a giant belt buckle, imagine trying to tilt it up by scooping your hips up. Alternatively, imagine rollling your seat to exaggeratedly sit on your back pockets, if you were riding in jeans.

If you find that your hands are your problem, it may be that you’re struggling with balance and inadvertantly relying on the horse’s mouth (or you’re struggling to control your body and you end up getting grabby with the reins as a result). Either way, definitely work on relaxing your shoulder, back, and arm.

Good luck!

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Just riding without stirrups won’t help much if you don’t have someone teaching you how to maintain a quality trot.
Lot’s of riders just slow down the trot thinking they are going collected.

Learn first, then practice.

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Ive struggled with the sitting trot for a very long time. Like others have said you’re likely carrying tension somewhere. I would be told this and think im as relaxed as i could be. But if i thought my seat was relaxed, as well as my legs, sure enough id be carrying the tension in my arms and hands causing bouncing and hitting my horse in the mouth. My friend put me in her dressage saddle to find my seat bones and had me collect his trot and sit. Sit some more. And sit some more. Also, I️ found that what i thought was sitting back on my seat bones i was really sitting forward. Sit back. If you think you’re sitting back already, but still bouncing, you’re probably not sitting back or deep enough. Once my friend yelled at me to lean way back and i told her anymore i would be laying on his back and she said that’s fine do it!! I looked at the videos and i wasn’t as far back as i felt. I think i was still in front of the verticals when i felt reclined. It’s funny how your brain thinks and feels.
i now prefer sitting trot! It’s all about finding the tension you carry, sitting deep, and going with the flow of your horse.

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This is exactly what I came here to say! Growing up a hunter/eq princess, I had my mind blown during my first dressage lesson.

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I never really mastered the sitting trot until I had an instructor tell me to pretend I was made of spaghetti. For whatever reason, that visual helped me relax and stop bouncing. I was doing exactly what Edre said: bracing against my stirrups and transferring tension throughout my body trying to hold myself still.

And no, I’m not saying that pretending to be a bowl of spaghetti will improve your riding position. I’m just saying that the visual helped me relax enough to finally get the feel of sitting instead of bouncing.

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First, do it without stirrups, I find it much easier to melt into the horse that way. Next, don’t be afraid to be a little slouchy. While having that perfect form is important, sometimes we’ve got to crawl before we walk and letting yourself be loose in the hips is important. So if you need to relax a little to get there and sit like a cowboy, that’s okay. Hands: I found holding onto the martingale to calm my hands was super helpful, my elbows had to move, which is what you want bc my hands were stuck down. Or extend your pinky and keep it on the horses neck, just so you know your hands are staying still. I watched a video on equestrian coach where the top equ trainer had her kids – when she saw their elbows get stiff – turn their hands down (so the thumps were facing each other–like piano hands) and hold the crop and reins in them that way. It helps give elasticity which will help you not grab (or use driving reins)

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I had been able to sit a trot very well back in the day… then when I came back to riding after a 20 year break it was so frustrating that I had lost that ability. But it did come back. I think it is all about relaxing and moving with your horse. Best of luck to you. Perhaps a hot toddy to aid in relaxation?

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With either very long stirrups or no stirrups, really try to feel your hips alternating down as each hip drops. You have to relax your lower back to allow this to happen. Once you’re really plugged in and can really feel your hips matching the horses, trot but keep thinking about those alternating hips. Yes trot is an up/down motion but it also had some alternating hip action to it. If you keep your hips in sync with your horse’s, you’ll have a much better chance of staying with the motion.

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Step 1 – Go over to the Dressage forum and read every thread you can find there on sitting the trot.
Step 2 – Have your trainer put you on the lunge line and practice sitting trot with and without stirrups.
Step 3 – Practice Step 2 off the lunge line.
Step 4 – Repeat Steps 2 and 3 ad infinitum.


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Don’t clench! Really, hold on only as much as you need to keep yourself on the horse. I rode in a clinic where the clinician had me without stirrups for close to 45 minutes and I was someone who usually did 5 minutes tops during a ride. Let your legs hang long and relaxed and gently grip with your calf, don’t clench with the thigh (I’m sure we are familiar with the clothes pin on a bowling ball!). Like others have said, sit on your seat, don’t arch your back, which as h/j riders can sometimes be tempting. I found that sitting back on my “back pockets” and really lifting my chest made it easier to let my hips be loose. I remember having so much fun riding without stirrups in that clinic and it made me so much more confident!

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In working with a dressage coach, I’ve really learned the importance of a long front body to sit the trot. Sometimes we work on finding the right turnout in my hips so my thigh lays better and I can find some support in the back of my calf rather than knee grip or stirrup bracing. But more of it comes from what you can get to relax and drape.

I’m now 5 and a half months pregnant and our dressage coach said the best sitting trot of her life was at 7 months pregnant, when the hormone relaxin really takes over. I’m finding that it’s definitely having an impact on flexibility in my hips and my leg is draping much better on a horse than before I was pregnant… it has inspired me to warm up my hips and stretch more post pregnancy. The other thing that helped was flatting in a longer stirrup.

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