Thursday, April 23, 2015

Posting Trot the Dressage Way

I've never been the kind of person that things just "come naturally" to.  In school I was a great student but not because I'm just one of those smart people (in fact I've always been really envious of those people).  It's because I was a nerd who studied and took notes, and read everything, and revised my outlines and read it again with a different highlighter.  The same goes for my riding.  I have to "study," and practice a lot, and have it explained to me seven different ways, before I can figure it out.  You may be starting to see why dressage appeals to me so much.  There is so much to read!  So much to learn!  (Still a nerd.)

I realized that part of the problem with my posting trot is that I don't know what it's supposed to look like. You don't see upper level dressage riders posting a lot.  They are mostly sitting.  And if you google it, you get LOTS of information about the sitting trot (really looking forward to moving up to Second Level, let me tell you) but nothing on the posting or rising trot.

But then I had an idea.  Surely, some of them must warm up in the rising trot, right?  So off to Youtube I went, and searched Grand Prix Dressage Warm-Up.  Ah-ha!

So, let's break this down.  Once you stop drooling over Ravel's gorgeous stretchy warm-up trot, watch Steffan Peters' posting trot in this video.  His hips move forward and back as he rises to the trot, which is how I was taught to post (bonus, I don't have to change everything).  Now, here's the difference between my posting and his (well apart from the fact that he's a legend and I'm a nobody).

When I rise on the up-beat, my shoulders are over my hips (although I could stand to bring my shoulder blades together and open my chest more, if we're being picky):

But when I sit, my hips come back and my shoulders stay forward, whereas Steffan's shoulders come back with his hips so he stays upright the whole time:

And that, my friends, is because this is my comfort zone:

Pretty baby hunter Tucker
Although my muscle memory still wants to do that, now at least I have a picture in mind of what I need to change, which is bringing my shoulders back along with my hips on the down-beat.  I concentrated on this in my ride last night and in the glimpses I got in the mirror, I seem to be approximating a dressage rider a bit better this way.

And just because it took me so long to find rising trot videos, here are a couple more I liked out of the few that I found.

Laura Graves warming up Diddy in Palm Beach last month:

And Heather Blitz warming up a young Paragon at Devon in 2010:

And if you really can't get enough, I made a playlist.  Because I'm a nerd.  


  1. You'll appreciate this: I spent most of yesterday's ride walking with my eyes closed* to really FEEL the rhythm and my posture. AND IT WAS HARD.

    But then when I did trot and canter, I had some of my best work yet.

    *Only do this if you're ALONE in the indoor unless you want everyone to hate you.

  2. I was told to imagine a string tied to my navel pulling me up out of the saddle and also to think of it as more of a pelvic thrust than an actual rise. It's also helpful to have someone yell, "Stop riding like a Hunter!" every time you mess it up.

    If you like nerdy reading material, I highly recommend "Anatomy of Riding" by Schusdziarra. It has really good illustrations and explanations of riding theory and your highlighter will get a workout. The book spends several chapters discussing proper pelvic positioning.

  3. interesting! thanks for sharing your research... i can sorta kinda post like a DQ (if you squint a little) when i'm really thinking about it... but sitting the canter is pretty much the hardest thing ever. these videos were useful for good examples to follow for that too

  4. I have to consciously tell myself to put my shoulders back about every other stride in the trot and the canter. It almost feels as if I'm actually leaning back compared to how my body wants to ride (in a 2-point-ish way). It's hard work! I love your playlist.

  5. I battle hunching forward at the posting trot just schooling flatwork... I can't imagine trying to re-train my position! I know exactly what you're talking about.

  6. Sigh...I miss, seriously is hard to achieve that correct balance even if you're not from hunter land. You'll get there! The right saddle I found REALLY helps get your alignment so you're not fighting to post properly. I realized that when I ordered my new saddle - it was insane what a difference a better suited to me saddle did for my position. I was about to pick a different model (one I felt a tiny bit more comfortable in) until I saw video of my riding in one vs. the other.

  7. Hi, you might find this interesting.
    Heather Blitz also trains with Mary Wanless

    1. Thank you - this was great! Everybody -- go read this!

  8. Oh man. I am the hunter-lean QUEEN.

  9. You. Are. Brilliant. Why have I never thought to watch warm-up rides? Totally great for learning how the best riders deal, correct before it happens, and all the good stuff! Thank you!

  10. Charlotte & Carl have a couple of TV series made for UK based Horse & Country TV. I keep meaning to order their boxsets as i think i caught a glimpse of an episode once where they said they only ride rising trot at home...but please don't quote me on this! As i said i only caught that tidbit as i was channel surfing and forgot to go back after the ads *shame-faced*
    If you want to order these series and for whatever reason can't...let me know and I'll oder them shipped to me and send them on ☺

  11. Very interesting. I am learning to ride in central america by a champion rider from Europe. She teaches posting like this, as a hip movement more than actually rising. she insists in a straight back--- yet last year when I visited the united states I was told my position was incorrect, that I should lean forward more, and lift from the bum. I have been curious as to the different styles of riding.


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