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Why Do Horse Riders Post? A Beginners Guide With 6 Tips

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If you are in the beginning stages of horse riding, you may wonder why it’s important to post in the trot, you may be lucky enough to have an older horse that sits as comfortably as a sofa, and you can easily sit the trot. Still, I have ridden many different horses, and not all of them give you that Rolls Royce comfort when sitting in the trot.

Horse riders post to alleviate jarring in their backs and their horse’s backs from the jolting of a sitting trot. It is also a much more comfortable position when doing long-distance riding. In addition, posting helps the horse elongate its gait and encourages them to have more forward movement.

I go a bit deeper into why posting or rising trot is better than sitting trot and give you a few pointers on improving your posting trot for a more balanced movement between you and your horse.

Picture of a horse rider posting in a trot.

Why Do Horse Riders Post?

There is more than one reason you may choose to post in the trot versus the sitting trot. From beginner to experienced riders, most of us will find that posting is much more comfortable, and believe me when I say your horse will appreciate you not bouncing around his back.

For Beginners

The trot is the horse’s bumpiest gait. As a beginner, you may not yet have found your balance on the horse’s back, meaning that if you do a sitting trot, you are likely to be jostled all over the place and will have very little time to concentrate on your posture or your horse if you are trying to cling for dear life while riding. For this purpose, learning to post in the trot is highly beneficial to beginners.

For The Green Horse

When breaking in a young horse, you want to make his learning curve as easy as possible. You can’t do this if you’re jarring his back and bouncing around in the saddle while he is trying to figure out how to balance himself with the weight of the tack and the rider on top of him.

Gently easing a young horse with a posting trot will prevent hard jolting shocks in his back and possibly create a cold back that could plague him for many years.

For Warming Up

Whether you are starting on a young horse or an older, more seasoned horse, their backs need to be warmed up. Immediately going into a sitting trot on a cold back will not make your ride very comfortable.

You want to warm your horse’s back up properly through posting trot to avoid your horse tensing his back which can make the ride extremely bumpy, and avoid having your horse hollow his back to get away from the jolting, as this will automatically make his head lift and you will be on an endless battle for the rest of the ride.

For Cooling Down

Just as it’s vital to warm up your horse’s back, it is just as important to ensure your horseback cools down properly. So posting to allow your horse to relax his back and stretch his muscles to cool down effectively is vitally important.

Below is a helpful YouTube video with instructions on how horse riders post the trot.

For Long Distance Riding

Even long-distance riders will use posting; this is not a casual ride to get to the end, and time is of the essence for this discipline. Riders in this discipline have found that the horse will have a longer sustained pace at the trot than cantering all the way.

So posting is highly beneficial; first, the horse’s gait is much faster than usual, and it takes a lot of pressure off the horse’s back, allowing a more forward movement from the shoulder. Secondly, the horse and rider will have a more relaxed back as you post in unison with your horse.

For Jumping

Whether you are warming up for dressage, jumping, or just for fun, the fact remains that you will have to warm up the horse’s back before you can start to get into the main event.

For jumping, you want your horse’s movement to be bigger and more forward so he can loosen up the joints and shoulders. Unless you want a visit from a chiropractor for you and your horse, you don’t want to be doing any sitting trot and bouncing around like a jackrabbit on top of his back.

Posting over trotting poles and into small jumps is a great exercise that brings you closer to a 2-point position.

To Regulate The Tempo Of The Horse

It may be challenging to understand as a beginner rider, but horses that set off at a fast speed can be slowed down by slowing your posting speed. The horse will automatically slow down to match your tempo and find his balance underneath you.

This is a great way to prevent hanging on the reins and pulling the horse in the mouth, especially in competitive environments or for horses with extremely sensitive mouths.

Picture of horse riders posts during a show.

Is Posting Better For The Horse Than Sitting?

That answer depends on whether you post correctly, but posting is generally better for the horse. Posting correctly is not easy to do when you first start riding horses, and your body needs to build and strengthen the muscles needed to allow you to post effortlessly.

After your first attempt at posting, you may better understand the term riding fit. When a horse is ridden in a posting trot, it is typically much more comfortable for the horse as you allow freedom in his back. It also allows the horse to warm up his back and stretch the muscles in flat work before getting into the more complicated movements.

If you are very off-balanced and keep falling behind the horse’s movement, this could create a problem as you keep jarring the horse’s back and kidneys every time you fall back.

In this instance, you may have to improve your position by strengthening your muscles, ensuring that you are sitting in the correct position or that your tack is correctly fitting you and the horse.

Picture of percheron horse in training.

Tips To Improve Your Posting Trot?

Even the most seasoned rider can have a day when their tempo is out, and they don’t seem to be getting the posting right; that’s when you feel like a total beginner again.

But you can fix these common technical issues by adjusting a few things. Here is a few common mistakes that can spoil your posting.

  • Rising to the wrong diagonal
  • Leaning or falling back and riding behind the horse’s movement
  • Double bouncing in the saddle
  • Depending on the reins for balance rather than finding an independent seat
  • Your stirrups may be too long or short, putting you off balance
  • Incorrect saddle size where you are landing back on the cantle or being pushed onto the pommel.

Some pointers for improving your posting trot are

  • Don’t use your stirrups to push yourself up
  • Relax your knees
  • Strengthen your thigh muscles
  • Remember to post using your hamstrings
  • Find the largest part of the horse’s barrel with your lower leg
  • Make sure your shoulders, hips, and heels are aligned in a straight line.

It is a common mistake for beginners to think the stirrups are there to push you up in the post, they are, in fact, more of a crutch, and that is why many instructors will get you to post without stirrups, and no, it’s not because they hate you and enjoy seeing you sweat.

Posting without stirrups will teach you how to use the correct leg muscles while keeping your knees relaxed and on the horse. After thirty minutes of this exercise, you will dismount, and your legs will feel like jelly, but it is effective.

Don’t make the mistake of gripping with your knees and pushing yourself forward; instead, relax your knees and find the tempo and rhythm of the horse. Allow the horse’s gait to push you up and out of the saddle.

Avoid rising straight up and down; this will cause you to constantly fall behind the horse’s movement. Rather move forward, swinging your hips towards the pommel.

It always seems impossible to do when you’re on the horse, and you need to learn to post and control the horse before getting to the end of the arena; while the instructor is shouting commands at you, a lot is going on at once, but this all becomes second nature as your body build memory muscle and before you know it you don’t even think about how you are posting.

Conclusion

There are many reasons why English riders post, from training a green horse, rehabbing a horse, warming up and cooling down, or slowing the horse’s tempo down. As a beginner, it may be overwhelming as you find your balance and build the muscles to aid you in posting. However, it is a more comfortable way of riding to prevent injury to you and the horse’s back.

FAQs

What does posting mean in horse riding?

Posting is a riding technique in which the rider rises out of the saddle for every other stride of the horse’s forelegs. This helps to absorb the shock of the horse’s movement and makes trotting more comfortable for both the rider and the horse.

Why is it called a posting trot?

The term posting most probably came from the word Postilion, the rider who controlled the pace of the carriage horses. The traveling pace of the carriage was a trot. The postilions found the most comfortable riding technique was to rise and sit in rhythm with their horse footfall.

References