The dreaded rising trot without stirrups – why do it and how it can help you with your riding skills

By Wiola Grabowska
Rider: Mairi M.
Horse: Boo

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Most riders I know and teach wouldn’t describe rising trot without stirrups as their favourite seat development exercise but I do rate it and use it as often as possible.

Here’s why:

  • It’s one of a very few exercises that relatively quickly change a “busy” rider into a much more organised and “quiet” one.
  • It is very difficult to do rising trot with no stirrups if the rising mechanism is wrong, it will simply be a torture on many levels!
  • Almost by default, this exercise, when done well, only rewards the rider when they organise their body in optimal position and join the horse’s movement well. This in turn is a great ingredient in developing better feel for nuances in a stride, for timings of half-halts etc
  • It strengthens the muscles in rider’s legs and core. When done well, it will help the rider achieve optimal, positive muscle tension. It works well for riders who ride with “too much muscle” and the riders who ride floppy. The ones who put too much muscular effort in, will get tired very fast. The floppy ones will need to dig in and discover deep skeletal muscles to stabilise themselves.
  • It doesn’t require fancy equipment, all you need is a relatively calm horse that is used to lunge work. I wouldn’t do it on young horses unless you are an experienced rider looking to refine some aspects of your seat. I would under no circumstances do it on nervous horses, horses with history of back pain or those that seem to over-react to rider’s corrections. Stay safe and keep the horse happy 😉
  • Each phase of the trot will be distinctly “feelable” – the rider can catch the moment she/he is being lifted and how much tension she/he needs in her inner and outer thigh.
  • There is nothing to brace against (stirrups) so as long as the rider is well guided by the trainer. she/he can really work on the right feel of the thigh and the hip initiating the rise rather than push from the stirrups (more on rising trot mechanics HERE)

How: 

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  • I like to warm up the rider off the lunge in walk, trot and canter both to make sure the rider is ready and the horse too
  • We start with a slow sitting trot to feel for frequency of the stride before starting short periods of rising trot with individual corrections
  • We build it up from 5- 6 rises to 5-6 minutes of rising trot 😉
  • We then practice smooth changes between sitting and rising trot back to sitting
  • Depending on my goals for the rider I might have them holding the reins (as Mairi is on photos in this post) but more often than not I prefer to do this with no rein connection so the rider can fully focus on their seat.

If you do try it, build it up slowly. Make sure you have good guidance to correct you in an effective and long-lasting way. Simply suffering in rising trot with no stirrups won’t make  you into more sensitive, more aware rider.

Happy training!

To watch a short video from Mairi’s training rising trot without stirrups, head over to our Instagram, just click image below to watch it:

InstagramVideo Rising Trot No Stirrups

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