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3 Exercises Guaranteed to Improve Your Rising Trot

In my last blog I discussed how to spot that your rising trot might need some work. Because rising trot induces asymmetrical loading on the horse’s back (read more here), we should do our best to ‘smooth’ these forces acting on the horse’s body in order to make the rising trot less demanding for the horses.

Try these 3 exercises which are guaranteed to help you improve your rising trot:

1. Riding in a light seat

One of the biggest mistakes riders make is that they let their feet escape from underneath them. Usually their feet end up too far forward and, as a result, they end up falling back into the saddle too heavily and out of balance. Riding in light (or 2-point) seat teaches the riders how to balance over their feet and, quite frankly, you can only stand up if your feet are underneath you 😉 So it is a great exercise to do if you want to check for yourself whether your feet are in the right place.

Rather than going round and round in a light seat, keep changing between rising trot and riding in light seat (maybe 6-8 strides for each). You will soon notice how your lower leg  position improves and your rising trot becomes more controlled as you become more dynamically stable.

2. Standing up and lowering half-way

Varying your position between standing up in the stirrups (‘tall light seat’) and then lowering yourself to just above the saddle (‘hover’) is also a great way to improve your rising trot. This is another great exercise which helps you build leg strength and dynamic control over a range of movement. Try to ‘find’ the muscles on the back of your leg as those are often not working (enough). These muscles are important for your lower leg stability and help you support your upper body.

A little side note here: Some riders are still taught ‘heels down’ as the Holy Grail of perfect riding position BUT forcing your heels down usually causes your lower leg to shoot forward and your ankles will effectively lose any ability to absorb movement. Instead, focus on the lower leg underneath you, weight on the stirrup bar and heel level with the stirrup or marginally lower.

3. Riding one-handed while doing rising trot

This is one of the best exercises for riders who tend to rely on their hands to balance in rising trot. This exercise is pretty self-explanatory – take your reins in one hand only and have a go at rising trot this way. It is amazing to see the results of this exercise in just one session. For an easier version, you can grab a neck strap or if you want to make it more challenging, swap the reins from one hand to the other every 4 strides.


Give it a go and let me know if any of these exercises helped you with your rising trot. Remember, good practice makes perfect – practising bad habits will not produce good results.

If you are struggling with rising trot or anything else, get in touch – I am here to help! I am an experienced freelance riding instructor with a proven record of helping riders achieve their riding goals (see my reviews). I am happy to assist with horse and rider training in Hertfordshire, North London and Buckinghamshire. Horse riders of all abilities and aspirations are welcome.

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