The sitting trot can be quite a challenge, especially if your horse has a lot of movement or does not quite use its back correctly yet. Unfortunately, this is a bit of a chicken-and-egg problem: If your horse does not use its back correctly, it will be a lot harder for the rider to sit quietly. And if the rider does not sit quietly, it will be much harder for the horse to move well and to use its back correctly.
So, what is the solution? There is a lot you can do as a rider to improve your physical ability to sit quietly to the trot. For example, if you haven’t got enough mobility or range of motion in your hip joints, you simply won’t be able to stay supple and move along with the horse. “In order to sit to the trot, I also need a very strong core,” Jessica explains. “Only if I have enough core strength and mobility in my hip joints, can I activate my core while at the same time letting go and relaxing my hip joints.” It takes practice to be able to target and activate specific muscle groups in your body. Good coordination skills and good body awareness are very important too – and of course you need to have the strength.
Fitness Coach Marcel points out: “To be able to go with the horse and sit to the trot you need to have supple joints, especially your hips and ankles. From a sports scientific point of view ‘supple joints’ simply mean that you need a good level of mobility and a good range of motion. The horse’s back moves three dimensionally – forth and back, up and down as well as left and right. In order to not be thrown around, the rider needs to create a very stable seat that absorbs the movement through supple joints and a very strong core that prevents involuntary movement and instability. You can often see riders, who can’t fully absorb the movement and as a result either bounce around in the saddle, tighten up and grip with their legs or compensate by bobbing with their head or flapping their lower legs. Due to our modern lifestyle and all the time we spend sitting, most of us don’t have enough hip and ankle mobility. That’s definitely something every rider should integrate into their personal fitness training.”
Another tip: Be aware of your breathing.
In addition to all the exercises you can do on the ground to improve your sitting trot, Jessica has another practical tip: “It always helps me to focus on my breathing. I don’t count my breaths or stick to a rigid rhythm or anything like that. I think every rider has to find their own rhythm. However, conscious breathing helps you to relax and let go of any negative tension. Very often, your horse will then also start breathing more deeply and adjust its breath to yours. The horse is your mirror.”
This is why we started DressurFit®
In the interview, Jessica talks about the story that initially started the whole DressurFit® idea: “I couldn’t sit Zaire properly, when she was a young horse, because she has so much impulsion. So there were only two options, either I had to trot her smaller so I could sit properly and take lots of breaks in walk, or I had to do something about my ability to sit to the trot and step up my game in terms of rider fitness. That was a real eye-opener to me and that’s when we started to develop the DressurFit® concept.”
Would you like to get more support and a personal training plan to improve your dressage seat? Sign up for your DressurFit® Membership by clicking here!