Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Trotting . . . thinking about it

I have a very tired worn book on my book shelf. I would be very sad if I ever lost this book, particularly this copy that has water stains, holes, and binding that is starting to give away. It is a much loved book, it has notes and parts underlined. Many a day have I read a passage and practiced it with my departed horse, Hope. I hope that you have this book on your shelf too: Centered Riding by Sally Swift. I don't care if you ride dressage, western pleasure, hunter, saddle seat, trail, or any other equestrian sport, Centered Riding is the corner stone of riding in my humble opinion. It is based on basic biomechanics.

Thursday is drawing ever closer. I said nearly three weeks ago that I would trot on my next riding lesson. Leaping a the chance to drive last week I evaded it for another week. One reason I am still so apprehensive is because I just have not been thinking about it. Just like my first ride on Bill, I have to take a lot of time to visualize what I am going to do. I just haven't.

So I thought, I should read what Sally has to say about trotting. This is actually a neat position to be in, sort of a beginner again, only with a lot of experience. A bit of an oyxmoron, but rather accurate. I know what to do, but I have that disconnect.

So what does Sally have to say about trotting? First she reminds us of position again. Take a plumb line from your ear down through your ankle. In fact if you remove your horse out from under you, you should still be standing straight and balanced. Keep your chest open, being a large chested woman, this one is a bit difficult for me. She talks a lot about the ankle. Keeping them soft, not shoved down as we are so often taught. Remember for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Push your heels down, you actually push yourself out of the saddle. Just relaxed, we have about 25 percent of our weight in our legs so just keeping your leg softly draped around the barrel of the horse and a soft ankle will allow your ankle to drop. Keep an equal amount of weight in both stirrups.

I love Sally Swift for all her visualizations. Your body filled with ice cream that melts out your heel. This helps you to sink into the saddle, and also draws your leg down. Another visualization is to imagine your legs are so long that they drag in the mud, to again draw your leg down around the horse's body. For the rising trot imagine a bungee cord attached to your belly button pulling you out of the saddle, up and forward for every stride.

Reading over these parts, is helping me to think about the trot. Remember how it feels. My muscles remember what to do and I know that after the first few steps it will just be a matter of quieting the negative self talk and allowing myself to enjoy the ride. I actually do like to remember the feel of the trot. It is rather a comforting gait, so steady and rhythmic.

So I am going to do this. . two more days!


  1. This is good timing. People have been telling me for ages to get this book and I just ordered it from Amazon the other day and got the notification a bit ago that it's on its way! I'm excited. :)

  2. Has Sally Swift written other books, too? Reason I ask is that her name sounds familiar and I think I may have read something else by her years ago.
    I will plan on reading Centered Riding, too. I can use all the help I can. I've never really learned the proper was to post a trot and with my weak and injured knees I wonder if I can, at least for more than a couple strides.

    I'm excited for you that you're planning to take this new challenge on and I'm sure you will do well....because you want it, too.

    I only trotted on my previous horse a couple times and decided I hated it. She made it very uncomfortable by jackhammering her front legs with each stride.

    Then a couple months ago I trotted on two of the horses I rode during clinics and it was FUN! I even cantered. I was grinning from ear to ear. lol!

    So, like you I'd like to trot more often and learn the correct way to do it for the comfort of me and my horse. :)

    Have fun and let us know how it went!


  3. Sounds like a good book. I think I might just have to add it to my collection.

  4. I think you'll trot just fine - and sounds like a good book!

  5. Analise~ good for you, you'll love it!

    Lisa~ Sally Swift has a second book, Centered Riding 2. I really good book but the first is a classic.

    Horses can have good trots and really crappy trots, and crappy trot can be fixed to some degree but only so much. I had a friend who had a tb that would only transition down with a half halt, the problem was that the horse was so bouncy I could not keep my ass in the saddle long enough to half halt! I ended up running into a walk. it was horrible! lol

    Sally's book can keep you a lot with trotting. She has lots of visualization and exercises to do.

    Sydney~ if you give lesson I think it might be really helpful. Lots of ways to describe the same thing so student can understand. I know as at teacher that sometimes you have to say something 50 different ways before it clicks. lol

  6. I might have to get that book. :)

    You'll do great at your lesson!! Just keep visualizing it. Imagine how great it's going to feel! How free and confident you'll feel after. The excitement and adrenaline. You're making me want to go ride . . . wish I knew someone with an adult horse lol. :) I can't wait to hear how it goes.

  7. I read that book - most libraries carry it, if anyone wants to review it first.

    It helped me immensely, I particularly like how she described opening your pelvis a bit, like flying a kite with your hips. Or something like that. LOL

    I wish you a happy trot time.


Thank you so much for your positive comments. I love you hear from you!