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The Importance of the Posting Trot

AQHA Professional Horsewoman Julie Goodnight explains the importance of the posting trot.

Question:

I'm having difficulty learning how to post the trot. I know it is important to post on the correct diagonal, but I don't really know why. What are diagonals, and why are they so important for posting the trot?

For the answer, we turned to AQHA Professional Horsewoman and Certified Horsemanship Association trainer Julie Goodnight's article in the August 2013 issue of America's Horse.

Answer:

To post the trot, you'll need to be able to feel your diagonals. The saying is, "Rise and fall with the leg on the wall," and that's referring to the front outside leg. So, if you were trotting around the arena to the right, you'd rise as the left front leg moved forward. But the reason you do so has to do with the hind legs.

Because the trot is a diagonal gait, as the left front leg moves forward, so does the right hind leg. Going in a circle or around an arena fence, the inside leg bears more weight, because of how the horse's body is arced. So by lifting your weight out of the saddle as that hind leg bears weight, you're relieving the horse of extra pressure.

Even if you're trotting in a straight line, say for several miles, you'd want to alternate your posting diagonal so that the horse's haunches are being worked equally.

When the left front and right hind are on the ground, that's considered the right diagonal pair, and that's the diagonal you would post on if you were going around the arena to the right. The right front and left hind are considered the left diagonal pair, and you'd post on this beat of the gait if you were tracking to the left.

It's easy to look down at the horse's shoulders and see how they are moving, but if you can discipline yourself to not look - and concentrate on feel instead - you can easily tell when to "rise and fall" by the movement of your horse's body.

If you can sit the trot without bouncing, you should be able to feel the lateral right-left movement of your hips. To feel the correct diagonal, sit a few beats of the trot and notice when your outside hip is lifting. That's when you need to rise. Sit for a few strides, as many as you need, and think "up, up, up" every time your outside hip rises. Once you have the rhythm down, you should be able to begin posting correctly.

*AQHA and the provider of this information are not liable for the inherent risks of equine activities. We always recommend consulting a qualified veterinarian and/or an AQHA Professional Horseman.