Are you fit to sit? Horse Nation’s fitness guru Biz Stamm two-thirds of the way into a three-part series designed to reveal one of life’s great mysteries: How to sit the trot.
So last week we talked about the sitting trot and the different motion we must absorb in order to sit it effectively. This week we’re going to talk about how go about absorbing that motion and add rhythm to the picture. We all know that the trot has two beats per stride, but for the sake of this exercise, instead of counting out the trot with a simple “one, two,” I’m going to count it out as a musician would count out an eighth note: “one and two and” with the “ones” and “twos” representing the “bumps,” and the “ands” representing the top of the arc. So let’s see how the rhythm corresponds to the different motions within the stride. Here’s our side view.
And here’s our bird’s eye view.
It’s important to remember that both up and down as well as side to side movement is happening simultaneously.
So by now you’re probably saying “OK, Biz. This is all well and good, but what the heck does this mean in terms of my seat?” Well let me tell you. Here’s how I like to think of it. From the bottom of the rib cage on up belongs to you, and should remain fairly stationary. From the bottom of the rib cage on down belongs to the horse and should move along with his body. In order to illustrate what I mean more clearly, I have taken the horse out of the picture. Here is what your seat will look like from the side.
I know you’re jealous of my awesome shag carpet, but PAY ATTENTION! Notice how your hips come down into the saddle (or where the saddle would be) during the “bumps” and then move up and forward to accommodate the shape of the arc. So the up and down motion of the trot has now been effectively absorbed. What about the side to side?
So here we see my lower body swaying side to side with the motion of the horse, while my upper body remains stationary. Remember, both of the movements described above are happening simultaneously resulting in your hips moving in a similar motion to running.
So now that your are moving with the motion of your horse, the only thing left to do is to absorb the shock at the bottom of each stride caused by the horse striking to ground. In order to do this, contract your abdominals on the “ones” and “twos.” This spreads the force from the impact throughout your midsection instead of having it concentrated on your seat.
When you first try to apply these concepts to your own sitting trot, you will inevitably over do it, exaggerating each motion. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but as you get more comfortable with the motion of the trot try and move only as much as you have to and not an inch more.
I realize my column is fitness related, but in this particular case I felt as though I couldn’t give good fitness advice without providing proper context for the exercises I’m going to recommend. I’d like to thank of all of you HN readers for sticking it out through this lengthy explanation. Next week we’ll FINALLY get to the exercise portion of this series, and hopefully, the added context will provide justification for each exercise.