Probably one of the first things you learn in your riding lessons is to post the trot. Initially, it might take some work and muscle memory to be able to move within the horse's trot strides, but in time, posting will become second nature and a skill you may use for years on different horses in different riding styles and events.
In fact, you might get to a point where you don't remember exactly why you're posting, only that you know you are comfortable, your horse is comfortable, and you are able to be effective and efficient within the trot gait.
While the posting makes the trot easier on the rider and the horse, there are actually other, more complicated purposes that might add a completely new dimension to how you can use the posting trot to help you become a more effective rider.
Once you have figured out the rhythm of the trot, and developed some of the muscles needed to support the forward/back movement of the post, you might get into a nice groove that allows you to post relatively efficiently and comfortably within your horse's tempo.
The horse's movement prompts you and you can stay in balance fairly easily and move with the horse as needed. Posting is especially helpful if your horse has very large movement or if the trot is very bouncy, which makes it difficult for you to sit for more than a few strides. In this case, rising can save both you and your horse's back!
Even after you learn to sit the trot, you might often go back to the posting trot just to re-establish balance and posture. The forward phase can help you improve your shoulder and hip alignment, and remember to bring the shoulder blades together at the top of the rise. The sit phase can help you establish a deeper seat as the seat bones rest into the saddle.
Energize The Movement
You can use the posting trot to encourage your horse to step forward, thereby creating more impulsion and a larger hind end stride.
Some riders tend to hold the horse back while sitting the trot, possibly because they are tight through the back or simply can't move large enough to allow the horse enough freedom in the movement. Posting helps you move forward in the saddle enough to release that lower back and allow the horse to move forward with more energy.
If you work within the rhythm of the stride, you can actually encourage the horse to energize by sending your own energy forward to the front of the saddle while in the forward phase. The horse invariably feels the energy surge and attempts to match it.
Free The Horse's Back
There are many reasons why riders might want to post in order to simply take our weight off the horse's back.
If you do long distance trail riding, you might spend considerable time in the trot. Posting trot is often the choice of riders who want their horses to move strong and fast and not have to bear the weight of the rider long term. Posting will also save the rider's back, which in turn will help the horse because the rider can be more comfortable for longer periods of time.
Even if you ride in the ring, you might want to intersperse sitting trot with posting trot for similar reasons. So after a session of sitting trot work, you might want to post just to allow the horse's back to move without your weight for a period of time.
Well, posting trot is all about timing, really.
At first, you might learn how to match our forward phase to the outside shoulder (so that the inside hind leg is free to reach further underneath the body). That takes considerable timing for the inexperienced rider.
Then you learn that you can influence the horse's tempo with your own posting tempo. Go slower, and the horse will slow down in the gait. Go faster, and the horse will match your tempo. This becomes key when you want to slow the gait but keep the strides as large as possible, and develop hind end and top line muscles through tempo exercises.
Finally, 1-2 rhythm of the posting trot can help you establish rhythmical aids. For example, in leg yield, you might want to apply the leg aid as the horse is getting ready to lift the inside hind leg (and outside front leg). So you can squeeze with the calf as you post forward so that you coincide the aid just as the diagonal pair of legs come off the ground to move - forward and sideways, in this case.
So, you see that there is more to the posting trot than first meets the eye! Use it with understanding and good feel and you will find it to be a very useful skill in all your riding endeavors!
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