Horsemanship How-to: Sit the Jog Better

Western Jog

Part of the allure of riding western is sitting astride a slow-legged horse as it moseys
along at a jog. Faster than a walk, slower and more relaxed than a lope, the jog is the
gait most favored for covering ground on trail rides. In the show pen, novice riders
typically master the walk/jog division before moving up the ranks. But what if you’re
having trouble getting in the groove when it comes to sitting still at the jog? If you
struggle to sit the jog without bouncing, here are some suggestions.

  • Check the length of your stirrups. If they’re too long you’ll either roll too
    far back on your tail bone or too far forward on your pelvis in an effort to keep your
    boot in the stirrup. That’ll undermine your position in the saddle and make you more
    likely to bounce. Stirrups that are too short will create too severe of a bend in your
    knee, forcing you to perch above the saddle. That will also make your seat insecure.
  • Once your stirrups are adjusted properly, think of sitting “in” the saddle
    rather than “on” the saddle. With that same mindset, relax your lower back so the
    muscles of your lower back and core midsection can follow the natural movement of the
  • To help get the feel of following the motion of your horse, take your feet out
    of the stirrups and stretch your legs down and around the barrel (rib cage) of your
    horse. Much like riding bareback (another way to develop a more natural seat), riding
    without stirrups will force you to connect with your horse’s back and follow the motion
    of each stride.
  • Though you want to maintain an erect upper body with good posture, strive to do
    that without holding yourself in place by gripping with your thigh and knee. Such bad
    habits will cause your seat to pop up and out of the saddle with each stride at the jog.
  • How schooled is your horse? A horse that’s high-headed with a hollow (inverted)
    back is typically rough to sit. Manipulating the headset with draw reins or a tie-down
    and restricting the trot to a slower speed rarely results in a smooth jog. Instead it
    requires consistent schooling to help the horse collect its stride, slow its pace and
    develop self-carriage. Such qualities help create a jog that’s much smoother to sit.

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Cindy Hale’s life with horses has been filled with variety. As a child she rode western and learned to barrel race. Then she worked as a groom for a show barn, and was taught to harness and drive Welsh ponies. But once she’d taken her first lessons aboard American Saddlebreds she was hooked on English riding. Hunters and hunt seat equitation came next, and she spent decades competing in those divisions on the West Coast. Always seeking to improve her horsemanship, she rode in clinics conducted by world-class riders like George Morris, Kathy Kusner and Anne Kursinski. During that time, her family began raising Thoroughbred and warmblood sport horses, and Cindy experienced the thrills and challenges of training and showing the homebred greenies. Now retired from active competition, she’s a popular judge at local and county-rated open and hunter/jumper shows. She rides recreationally both English and western. Her Paint gelding, Wally, lives at home with her and her non-horsey husband, Ron.


  1. good article and true; i’m 55 and i try to ride my best everytime; my aqha mare after months of practice is slow and easy at the trot, but even then i find myself attempting to correct my seat; in fact, i rode bareback recently and my horse never moved better; hum, what changes when i’m in the saddle – more tips appreciated.


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