No, this is not about blogging, or fenceposts, but on rising or ‘posting’ to the trot.
The trot is a 2-beat gait in which the horse’s legs move in diagonal pairs (last week’s post has the Eadward Muybridge photo series on the trot). It is the roughest gait to sit, which is why the technique of posting, or rising in the stirrups on every second beat, was developed. Rising to the trot not only saves your seat bones, it saves your horse’s back by relieving it of your derrière 50% of the time.
However, if you were to always rise with the same diagonal pair of your horse’s legs, your horse’s back would become unevenly developed and possibly sore on one side. This is why we determine to which pair of legs you rise, based on your direction of travel in the arena. This is called the ‘posting diagonal’, and in your level 1 test we ask you to:
5. Demonstrate change of posting diagonal when asked.
When posting the trot, you should rise in the saddle when the horse’s foreleg closest to the arena fence goes forward. That is, if you are on the right rein (going clockwise) you will rise when the left foreleg goes forward and sit when it is on the ground. To switch your diagonal, simply sit for two beats and resume posting.
This great little video has some nice slow motion footage of the trot, clearly showing the footfalls, posting, and how to change diagonals:
Posting and switching diagonals is something that takes practice to make smooth and automatic. Start by simply counting trot beats: “one-two, one-two” to get that rhythm in your brain before you begin rising on the “two”. When you’ve got the hang of posting, start counting them in pairs “one-up, two-up, three-up,” while rising on the “up”. Now practice posting for three to five pairs at a time, then sitting for a pair to switch your diagonal and so on: “one-up, two-up, three-up, sit-sit, one-up …”
As difficult as posting the trot may seem at first, it will eventually become second nature. You’ll be able to detect your diagonal without looking and regulate your horse’s speed with your own rhythm.