Posting the trot is a skill like riding a bike: Once you learn to do it well, you won’t forget how, no matter how long it’s been since you last sat on a horse. If you learn to “rise and fall with the leg on the wall,” you’ll remember it for years to come!
The posting trot has two distinct phases: the sitting phase and the rising phase. The sitting phase is when you sit completely in the saddle, with all of your weight resting on your seat bones, which are touching the saddle.
To get a feel for this position when you’re not on a horse, grab a chair and sit normally, with feet directly underneath your knees, which are bent at a right angle. Now lift your feet just a little bit—an inch off the ground is great! You should be able to feel your seat bones more easily with your feet raised. These are the bones you want to concentrate on in the down phase of the posting trot.
The second phase of the posting trot is when your seat is completely out of the saddle. All of your weight should drop into your heels, which act as an anchor for your position.
Posting Trot Pointers
One of the most important things to remember when you’re working on your posting trot is that the horse should be doing most of the work! When you’re learning how to post, it’s tempting to try to use the quad muscles on the front of your thigh to stand up in your stirrups as you get the hang of the up-down-up-down tempo—but this isn’t correct! In posting trot, the horse should do the work for you: His motion should gently push you out of the saddle.
Here are a few ways to perfect your posting trot position:
Make sure your pony has a bit of pep in his step.
Posting can be even harder to master if you’re going so slow you can’t feel the one-two, one-two beat of his trot—you’ll end up doing more work than he is if he doesn’t pick up the pace!
You’ll know you’re off in the timing of your posting if you end up behind the motion. That means you’re just a teeny bit late getting out of the saddle. When you post behind the motion, you land hard on your horse’s back.
Spend time on a longeline.
Still feeling floppy, even though you’ve been working and working on the posting trot? If your horse can longe correctly, ask your instructor or an experienced horsey pal to help you. Having someone longe your horse lets you focus on feeling your horse’s movement without having to worry about steering.
Don’t pinch with your knees.
Even advanced riders sometimes have this bad habit. Pinching with your knees will force your lower legs back, making it even harder for you to stay with your horse’s motion. Concentrate on using equal pressure all the way down the inside of your leg, not just holding on for dear life with your knees while you post.
This even pressure will help you hold your leg in one place so it’s not swinging back and forth every time you post, which can get super annoying for your pony.
Work on posting without your stirrups.
If you lose a stirrup, do you tend to collapse to the side you lost the iron, like a deflating balloon? Do you start to panic and pull on your pony’s face to make him stop so you can gather your iron?
This means you’ve become too dependent on your stirrups to post and you’re not allowing your horse’s motion to push you out of the saddle.
If you’re comfortable, drop your irons for a lap or two while your horse is trotting so you can sit and feel his rhythm.
This article originally appeared in the March/April 2019 issue of Young Rider magazine. Click here to subscribe!