September 23, 2021

Lesson Wrap-up(s): Posting and Sitting Trot Biomechanics

One of the things I love about my GP trainer is that she's just as fascinated with biomechanics as she is with winning classes (you know, that whole Mary Wanless thing). With the season basically over and just a month left before he goes to her for training, she's enthusiastically dove into my request to focus only on biomechanics for now.

Two lessons ago, last week, it was the posting trot. She identified that my left lower leg was kicking forward in the posting trot, and my right one didn't have enough internal rotation, which meant I didn't really have my right thigh on him, and I had more of the back of my calf on the horse than the side. In other words, that old weak right glute med problem that I had thought I solved. And she also pointed out that this was just as or possibly more important than my crooked pelvis discovery. A week of playing with that later, and I can say she is definitely not wrong about that.

After a week of focusing on that both in and out of the saddle (and one very tired right glute med later!), last night's lesson was sitting trot. I picked it up, and she was like okay, we gotta fix this.

My phone is full of pictures of this browband in different lights because it's so damn pretty!

I've never found Connor's trot hard to sit, but I also was annoyed by the "lack of swing through the back" comments we got a couple times this year, and I know I have a tendency to come down onto the saddle harder than he probably prefers, especially when I'm nervous in the show ring!

First she pointed out that my torso was leaned back behind the vertical a bit, and every time that happened, my hands immediately and excessively started bouncing up and down. Torso on the the vertical, hands still. "When you're leaned back, the energy goes out your shoulder blades rather than out of the top of your head and the bottoms of your feet like it should."

She had me play with this by asking me to exaggerate leaning back behind the vertical with my hands in front of me to see what it did to them. You should try this at home, I looked like a cartoon character playing the piano, my hands moved so much, lol.

What, me, lean back? PC: my mom

Once I had internalized "leaning forward" (sitting straight) enough, she had me stand up in the saddle at the walk. "See how hard that is? You need to put your pelvis forward so it's over your center of gravity and then kneel into your knees. Your spur should point out behind you, not angled toward his belly."

She did her best at explaining this to me, but it wasn't until I was sitting the trot a few minutes later and she said again "the energy should go out the top of your head and the bottoms of your feet" that suddenly it all clicked. Actually, a lot of things clicked, going back to Kate and Megan's lesson and Mary Wanless saying "don't crush my hand" with her hand between my boot and the stirrup tread. I can't even describe it well, but the foot thing, as soon as she said that, I felt like a transformer that clicked into "the good sitting trot place". 

The energy is definitely going out my shoulder blades here, and of course my shock absorbers are totally neutralized, look at where my feet are! Although I'll be a little kind to myself and remind everyone this was my first real ride in this saddle, and my leathers were a hole too short.

I wouldn't have told you before that I didn't have enough weight in my stirrups (but lol see previous photo!) because I never lose them, and it's not like I jammed my foot into them when she said that, but by thinking about the energy coming out of bottoms of my feet and the tops of my head, I felt my legs lengthen a smidge and I put maybe 5% more weight into my irons, and suddenly my whole body felt like a tense yet elastic rubber band that was easily able to absorb the motion of the sitting trot, without my butt leaving the saddle at all.

"I've never used that cue before!" she said. "Well I'm glad you did, something about it just totally clicked," I said.

May...have done a thing. More to come, lol


Connor, for his part, thoroughly enjoyed being a virtual lunge lesson pony and trotted around like a good boy the whole night, but REALLY started to swing through his back when I got it. We got our first "Wowwwwwwww" in weeks from her.

At the end, we worked on encouraging him to bend and flex a little bit more while maintaining my new position, which was about as complex as I could have probably handled in the moment. "See, when your position is like this, everything else becomes a lot more effortless," she said. "I don't want to do anything more, this is a good place to get to and gives you good homework."

It's a good feeling when you can't wait to do your homework!


  1. Love when things fall into place like that! Sounds like a great lesson!

  2. I don't ride Dressage, but I really want to hire your GP trainer to virtually fix all of my wonky tendencies!

    So awesome that you had that breakthrough!

    1. It is. She's amazing! The focus on biomechanics really serves her well in so many ways.

  3. I have not taken a lesson in years, but wow I would love to learn from your trainer! She seems detail -oriented but big-picture focused all in one which seems like a rare thing. I also like how she seems tough but kind! It is fun to read your lesson recaps!

    1. She is all of that, I feel very lucky to have her. I wouldn't have met her if it wasn't for blogging, either!

  4. Sounds like a great lesson, and I love the sparkly boots!!