Rising Trot
Posted by Irina Yastrebova on Monday, March 17, 2008 02:00 PM
If you watch a dressage rider perform rising trot most probably you will see a few distinct features. Many dressage riders - keep their upper body vertical, their stirrups are so long they have to reach to keep their feet in them, their rising trot looks like up and down movement, Upward movement usually happens because of the horse's thrust and down movement is simply a fall back into the saddle. Interestingly enough many hunter jumper riders look much more balanced in the rising trot: their body slightly inclined forward, stirrups are shorter so there is room for the knee to unbend and many of them do not simply fall back into the saddle but come back with balance and grace. Rising trot is a rising trot, it doesn't matter if it is ridden by dressage or hunter rider. It has it's own principals and physics. If riders violate these by trying to adhere to the specific form of their discipline they disturb the balance of their horses.
Rising trot requires fit riders. If you want to control the movement of your horse and stay in balance with him you need enough cardio and muscle fitness to keep up. If you try to use your horse's thrust to bump you up and then simply fall back you are at the mercy of your horse. He can go any way he likes, no balance, athleticism or grace required. Even worse, if you are doing rising trot the way I have just described you constantly behind your horse's movement, using reins to catch up to him, disturbing his spine every time you fall back into the saddle. Rising trot is performed mostly by your thigh muscles. They lift you up and they control your descent. If your muscles are not fit they will "scream" after 5 minutes of correct rising trot, or even sooner.
Rising trot is like a shallow squatting with your lower legs and knees in a quiet and stable position and only your upper thighs are working actively. Your thighs are moving your torso up and forward and down and back. Your hips angle will open and close with the movement. Try this at home. If you have a flight of stairs use lower step or a sturdy low stool. Stand on the step with the balls of your feet. Your heels are hanging in the air, feet apart. Find your balance with your ankles relaxed and your weight is in your heels. Squat slightly to the similar position you have in the saddle. Without moving your knees forward and back unbend them about 20 degrees and then come back. Your torso will move forward and up and you will feel how your thighs are working hard to keep you in this position. To be able to repeat this movement in good rhythm you need to keep your torso slightly inclined forward when you are squatting and then simply let your torso come forward and up, your hips angle open and close with the movement. On the drawing the black figure shows the starting position and the blue figure shows up and forward position. As you can see knees are stable (they circled with the red circle), the hips go more forward then up which is true for the rising trot on a horse and head and shoulders move very little. The red vertical line shows how the whole body is well aligned on top of the base of support. This is very important factor for rising trot. Without such good alignment you will fall back into the saddle every time you try to rise and probably use the reins to stop toppling backwards.
Correct technique for rising trot gives you ability to regulate your horses tempo, make only necessary movements, easily rise on the very soft horse and stay in control and balance on the big mover. You will be able to teach your horse to keep steady tempo and lengthen his stride or, keep the energy and shorten his stride. You will stop depending on reins for balance and your horse will use his back and stretch into the bridle.
Happy riding...
 
Comment by Ilona on Sunday, October 16, 2016 03:26 PM
Not sure what is meant by unbending knees 20 degrees without moving them back and forth. I looked at the drawing and the knees aren't moving but the torso is, so am I just supposed to move my torso? I am fixated on the rising trot because I think it's a basic element of riding and if I don't have that down pat, then I will have problems with everything else.
 
Comment by Irina Yastrebova on Monday, October 17, 2016 06:05 PM
You are correct. The torso is moved by your legs. Your thighs bring your torso forward and upward out of the saddle. A rider ends up almost over the pommel of her saddle in the forward position. A horse's movement helps to rise out of the saddle but a rider must not rely on it solely. And coming back to the saddle must be done gracefully without falling back. That is why torso must stay slightly inclined forward in a sitting moment of rising trot. Knees act as a center of the circular motion of rider's hips. Thighs act as radius to propel rider's torso as a solid unit. No shoulder or back muscles must be involved in rising. Core muscles must be engaged to give torso stability and unity. Let me know if you have more questions.
 
Comment by Mel on Wednesday, August 23, 2017 04:03 AM
Thank you for this concise description! I have had many riding lessons and always felt my rising trot wasn't quite right. Even though I have the torso movement, I was pushing myself up on my stirrups and just didn't think or feel this was correct. Hence the search for the answer - no one has EVER told me that you need to use the thighs. Now makes total sense! Rather annoying to be told to keep your lower leg still if you aren't told how or what you're doing wrong to do it right!
 
Comment by Irina Yastrebova on Wednesday, August 23, 2017 08:14 AM
You are most welcome! This is so common that every new rider I teach has to go through evaluation and reorganization of their rising trot.
 
Comment by Elisa on Friday, December 22, 2017 10:15 PM
Thank you for a clear description. My struggle is keeping my lower leg still. I am told to stop moving my lower leg but not how ! I am attempting to correct my rising trot through learning which muscles are in use. I have realized I was only using my quads and not the hamstring. I am also trying to focus more on the " back " movement rather than the " forward " . As in allowing the movement to push me forward and I focus on the back .Therefore engaging the muscles more through awareness. I hope that makes sense. Advice would be appreciated! I do struggle with Chronic fatigue so have strength issues. Kind regards.
 
Comment by Irina Yastrebova on Saturday, December 23, 2017 07:10 PM
If you feel your lower legs are unstable there is a big chance you are pushing into stirrups to get out of the saddle during rising trot. In order to address this ask someone to hold your lower leg in place as you attempt to do riding trot on a standing still horse. If you cannot rise and the person feels how you are trying to move your leg forward in order to push into stirrup you need to do rising trot without stirrups.
Working on your awareness and what muscles to use is a great way to understand your own mistakes provided you truly know how muscles work and their anatomy. Study Mary Wanless work - books, DVDs, webinars. She is very good on "How".
 
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