How To: Sit the trot

Sitting trot can turn even experienced riders into awkwardly bouncing lumps. Lila Gendal offers some tips for improving your poise.

From Lila:

Do you struggle to sit the trot? How many times have you seen someone else sitting the trot and thought to yourself, “Wow–that rider has an AMAZING seat… I wonder how long it took for her to be able to sit like THAT?” Or perhaps you don’t struggle in this particular area… so, how long did it take YOU to get that beautiful seat?

I am by NO means perfect and I have a long way to go, but learning how to sit the trot has changed my riding completely. I have been riding since I was about 6 years old (now I am 27) and I didn’t really have an independent seat until I was about 18 or 19 years old. Here are some tips that helped me improve my ability to sit the trot:


  • 1) Ride Without Stirrups

This is one of the best kept secrets to improving your seat. Even when I feel good about my ability to sit the trot, I still take away my own stirrups at least once a month to see how balanced and relaxed I am. If you’re not used to sitting the trot at all, I would recommend taking away your stirrups for shorter lengths of time. Don’t kill yourself to begin with, but rather keep adding small increments of time to these exercises and you will start to notice a difference.

  • 2) Ride Different Horses

It’s not always easy to find spare horses to ride, but if there’s any way you can ride at least one other horse it will absolutely improve your seat. Ask a friend or a trainer if you can practice on their horse sometime. Riding a bunch of different horses helped my riding tremendously. The ability to get on a random horse, put that horse on the aids, and start sitting the trot changed my riding by leaps and bounds.

  • 3) Get Stronger

Sitting the trot requires a fair amount of strength. Perhaps on a very smooth horse with very flat gaits less strength is required, but generally speaking, sitting the trot demands core strength. One thing you can do to improve your core strength (or stomach muscles) is to do exactly this… SIT THE TROT! You can also try different aerobic exercises and/or Pilates that hone in on your core. Getting stronger will absolutely improve your ability to have an independent seat.

  • 4) Watch

My last advice is to watch those who CAN sit the trot. Watching others ride can help tremendously. You can either watch videos, watch a lesson, or just watch someone who clearly has an amazing seat and study what this looks like.

Perfecting any skill in life takes time. Some people have more innate abilities than others, but for the majority of us, these things take time and patience. If you really want to learn how to sit the trot, or you really want to improve your seat, try these suggestions and I guarantee you will notice a huge change in your riding!


Do YOU have any tips for sitting the trot? Share in the comments section below.

Go Riding!


About the Author

My name is Lila Gendal and I am 27 years old. I am from Vermont and have been riding horses since I was 6 years old. I have been eventing since I was 10. I have been riding and training with Denny Emerson for the last 7 years. My goal is to compete at the upper levels someday. I currently have a 2005 Holsteiner mare, “Valonia” (Contester X Parlona), who is currently going training level, and I am riding one of Denny Emerson’s horses, a 2005 Selle Luxemburg gelding, “Beaulieu’s Cool Skybreaker” (Beaulieu’s Coolman X Une Beaute by Heartbreaker) who will be moving up to training soon! When I am not on a horse or in the barn I am likely working in my office on what I like to call Equine Media… or social media for equestrians and equestrian websites.


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