Applied Posture Riding - how to sit the trot,

  • Applying Biomechanics To The Horse Rider 1

    Part 1

    This is a topic riders, and coaches need to have more knowledge in. Biomechanics is the science of movement, the science of examining the living body, including how muscles, bones, tendons, and ligaments work together to produce movement. The word biomechanics is the study of the structure and function of biological systems such as humans, animals, plants, organs, and cells and describes the application of engineering mechanics to these systems.

    A proper understanding of biomechanics is vital to understand the implications of sport’s performance, rehabilitation, and injury prevention, along with sports skills. An understanding of biomechanics in equestrian sports can explain the impact the how the horse and rider can work together.

    It is important for riders to understand how their posture and movement patterns affect their application of aids to the horse. stock photo 14431819 riding in the rainThe most common fault is using the reins to balance through. rider competing dressage competition classic estepona malaga province andalusia spain 34936377(Photo on the left). the rider in the photo on the right is balanced and you can see the difference. This poor balance in the rider directly affects the horses' mouth and hence their forward movement. Long-term use of "pulling" can result in muscle imbalance. Sadly the horse is the one in pain, imbalances in both the horse and the rider. 

     The rider will become stiff and sore and the horse may well develop a "bridle lameness" as well as behavioral problems. Humans naturally balance through their hands, so pulling or grabbing for the reins is natural. The horse will pull back to protect himself and use the pull of the reins to balance on as well. This sets up a cycle for both the horse and rider to learn to balance on the bit. This leads to muscle pain, fear, behavior problems, and certainly poor muscle building and unpleasant riding for the future. This cycle needs to be broken.

    Muscle Anatomy and Function

    The musculature of the horse and rider must be developed slowly over time.

    The building of a top line in the horse involves time, exercises, and knowledge. Incorrect training methods will develop muscles but... not the correct muscles for pleasant riding. A horse can carry a rider its entire life with its head high and back arched.

    This posture helps the horse protect itself from pain from the rider. The rider who does not train their body specific for riding will not be symmetrical or balanced in the correct movement patterns to ride with their horse.

    Signs of pain in a horse


    • not going forward

    • grinding the teeth

    • going against the bit

    • sweating

    • rearing

    • bucking

    • resignation

    going off food

    • aggression against humans or other horses

    • muscle twitching/moving the skin on or before contact

    • unwillingness to be touched

    • moodiness.

    The position and length of the horses' neck and the horses' back have a direct biomechanical effect on how the horse moves. A horse with a short back will have more balance than a long-backed horse. The quarters will be more under the horse allowing him the use them for balance and power.

    A horse does not carry a rider naturally and if you observe your horse in the paddock he prefers to hold his head high or neutral..not low as we want them to be. This is partly due to their flight and fight protection.

    Signs of pain in the rider

    • stiffness and lack of range of movement
    • weakness
    • poor movement patterns
    • asymmetry of movement
    • emotional stress
    • tears
    • inattentive
    • angry
    • blaming your horse

    3449626 backache Many of the horse's muscles have a similar action as in a human. The contraction of the abdominal (stomach) muscles, will tilt the pelvis backward in a human, rounding the back. In a horse, contracting the stomach muscles will also round the back.images 28 As the horses' back becomes round his quarters will come under him and his head will lower, (long and low). As a horse arches his back his head will lift. the horse will also lift his head to balance, for example approaching a fence.

    The rider must be balanced to allow this movement in their horse. If you examine the same action in humans you can see the same postures are produced. Many humans work in this posture and it becomes their norm. Sitting at a desk, driving for long hours, labor jobs, and many others. Humans tend to become stiff in their back with age.

    Two Wells Frank 005 websizeThis biomechanical action is important to understand in your training of both horse and rider. A majority of the spinal and neck muscles only attach and work on the spine and not the limb, again similar to a human. When carrying a rider the horses back will try to compensate for abnormal or one-sided loading of it (e.g. by lameness or rider).

    To stay balanced the muscles may well spasm resulting in increased muscle tension and pain. The rider is often the cause of early clinical signs of back problems in the horse without even knowing it. This scenario is equivalent to a human carrying a heavy backpack on one shoulder for long periods of time. 

    The different paces involve different movements of the spine and hence different muscle activity. The walk is a four-beat movement mostly under the influence of passive mechanisms. The swinging movement of the head, neck, and limbs moves the spinal joints passively. At the walk, the back does not twist through the thoracolumbar junction as it does in the trot and canter. The trot shows a very stable back with a reduced range of movement. The diagonal movement of the two-beat footfall allows the back to be symmetrical and stable. 

     At the canter, the back is influenced by the three-beat movement and has periods of flexion and extension, which is not evident in the walk or the trot. Muscle activity has a restraining function instead of an initiating function. The diagonal support of the trot and canter sees extension and twisting of the spine in the areas where pathologies are often found. Abdominal muscle strength, as well as hip extensors, are important in stabilizing the back and preventing these injuries. There are clear relationships between back conformation and movement that are likely to be important in diagnosing pain. Continue reading Part 2


  • How To Ride A Horse. The Sit Trot

    How To Sit The Trot UsingMovement Patterns

    Posterior Neutral AnteriorPelvic tilt websizeThis is a pace that all horse riders have trouble with. Although the trot is a pace we as riders spend a lot of time on. We spend hours at the rise trot and training in circles, fitness work, and just for pleasure. We spend hours riding at the rising trot and struggle with the sitting trot. 

    How To Ride a Horse and How To Sit The Trot. Can be learned using Movement Patterns.

    Your core strength, coordination, and synchronization are the key to both. If a horse rider can sit trot well then they can ride just about any horse. Movement patterns to teach horse riders are my specialty. By understanding the muscles and movements required for horse riding it is easy to learn how to ride a horse, and how to sit the trot by breaking up the movements and practicing each of them individually.

    Horse riding requires a strong well-balanced posture. The sitting trot is an upright posture and the rider's seat must stay in the saddle,DSC 0155 unlike the rising trot where the rider moves their weight from their seat to their stirrups and back again, there is no weight transfer with the sitting trot. 

    The sitting trot is a very bouncy movement so the rider must learn to absorb the two beat footfall through their seat and this is easy if the breathing pattern and core are trained. 

    Horse riders need to be symmetrical with their power, coordination, and skill in both their left and right sides. Many ball sports are one sided and this suits people because we are one sided, and get better at this with age. To be able to ride a horse well horse riders must train both their left and right body parts. I spend time trying to write left handed just to train my brain and left side.250px Transversus abdominis 

    The muscles needed for horse riding are different to many sports. They all need to be trained for riding, not for netball or football. Although horse riding is good for fitness it requires good endurance and strength in all the posture muscles but especially the core. Good horse riders, especially dressage riders have great posture out of the saddle. They may be stiff and sore but they do stand up tall. Training out of the saddle with core exercises will solve many "in the saddle" posture problems. To be able to ride well a rider first needs to learn how to stabilize their lower leg.

    To be able to sit trot well a rider needs to be able to coordinate their breathing, their core, and their lower leg to work as a team, not independently in this case. The rider needs to have a strong lower back that will maintain the upright posture while the core and legs move with the two beat movement of the horse. By understanding the actions required it is easier to work out which muscles and which movement patterns to train in order to achieve the skill of the sitting trot.

    How To Ride A Horse.The Sit Trot

      Many horse riders are taught to sit trot on the lunge and spend hours going in circles clinging with their thighs to build core strength.(This is a great technique but only with a skilled handler and teacher). The core will only build strength if it is engaged properly. Unfortunately lungeing and clinging does not build strength in the right muscles and teaches a rider to cling like a monkey. The time spent doing this exercise often results in a rider giving up, simply because it is too hard and does not work. I will state it does work for some riders, but generally, it is a waste of time and effort. I believe this exercise is wrong. However, I do acknowledge it does work well for some learners. I train my pupils out of the saddle as well as in the saddle.

    All my pupils follow my program so these core exercises are easy for them to understand.

     Learn to Core crunch. (Not an Ab Crunch). Many think the sitting trot is only about the seat. It isn't! The core and lower back need to be engaged and flexible and the lower leg is the body part that controls the Core hold bounce as much as the breathing and the seat. All my pupils learn the "Core Crunch" before any other core movement pattern. The next 18 movement patterns are specific to horse riders and horse riding. These patterns are unique to my Applied Posture Riding program and have become one of the most successful training patterns and programs for horse riders to learn how to sit the trot.

    How To Ride a Horse.The Sit Trot

    The benefits of this training are not only to train horse riders to ride well but also to manage lower back pain and posture problems. The benefits of core exercises are many. The benefits of training under an expert are even greater. To learn how and why and then what movement pattern is the difference in having knowledge as opposed to just exercising. If you are passionate about your riding and want to learn more about the horse riding posture and how to train it they look at Applied Posture Riding.

    I am a rider coach I teach riders how to ride a horse. I do train horses as well but my passion is teaching horse riders to be the best they can be by understanding the riding posture. If you have any comments or questions I am happy to help, use the contact page. How to ride a horse is my specialty.

    LIKE and follow me on the Applied Posture Riding Facebook page for tips and advice and fill in the subscribe form here on the website to stay in touch.

    Enjoy your riding and good luck Annette Willson Author Applied Posture Riding  

  • The Applied Posture Riding Program

    What Is The "Applied Posture Riding" Program? 

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    This is a complete mentoring program for horse riders.

    You cannot fix your posture problems in the saddle.

    You need to, first, test for strength, length, and flexibility, you then need to train to reset your posture for riding and then start the process of transferring your new riding skills to the saddle. 

    It has been proven that unmounted, correct rider specific Movement Patterns will train you to be a better rider.  Once your posture has been reset you can apply this in the saddle.

    A balanced riding posture that has symmetry, core strength and independent isolation skills, is the goal every rider is targeting. Better skills allow you and your horse to enjoy riding. The fighting will stop and the fun will begin.

    You need a starting point, this requires self-testing and understanding your own posture problems. Once you have your problems sorted you can start your training program. By training your core and fixing your muscle imbalances out of the saddle you will correct your own little habitual muscle problems.

    Pilates will only train your core in "neutral spine" Riders need the skill and strength to use their core in "non-neutral spine".

    By training your core and fixing your muscle imbalances out of the saddle you will correct your own little habitual muscle problems.

    Every Rider has Muscle Imbalances. What are yours?

    Once you address them:

    • you will stop confusing your horse and block him with your asymmetry's 
    • you will be able to sit upright and engage your seat effectively
    • you will be able to apply your lower leg with consistent correct aids
    • you will stop using the reins for balance and allow your horse to move forward
    • jumping will become fun and safe as you stay with your horse over fences 
    Slumped and Upright Standing Posture

    The Applied Posture Riding Program will show how to identify your own muscle imbalances, your own weak areas, your own areas of stiffness and your own habits.

    Yes, we all have habits to be reset. Injury has a huge effect on your riding as does having a baby or just having a break from riding to live your life.

    Any asymmetry in your Posture will affect your riding.

    A dropped shoulder, twisted hips, a dominant hand, all affect your riding.

    The Core is the Basic Training For All Riders.

    Dressage is the Basic Training For All Horses.

    • Do you know if you have a weak core?  Yes! Do you know how to test it? No!
    • Do you suffer from lower back pain and been told to quit riding? Yes!
    • Do you know how to train yourself for riding? No!

    Correct Testing of all your muscles and then applying the correct movement patterns is what you need. Many riders are doing floor exercises and attending classes and still not changing their riding! Why? 

    • Exercises are not enough!
    • You need to have a starting point
    • You need to know your own  muscle imbalances
    • You need to know your own areas of weakness and stiffness
    • You need to know just how dominant or one-sided you are with your posturebefore and after APR
    • You will have habits and resting postures that affect your riding.

    Do you know what they are?.

    So Who am I?

    My name is Annette Willson. 

    I am a Physiotherapist. I am a retired elite rider and Functional Core Stability Training and Posture Training is my specialty.

    My program Applied Posture Riding is a complete program to train "The Fundamentals Of Riding With Your Core"

     You will learn:

    • all about the riding muscles function and anatomy
    • how to self-test your own muscles
    • how to do a core crunch
    • how to engage your core on demand
    • how to strengthen your core
    • how to use your core in daily life
    • how to train core for riding
    • how to train all your riding muscles
    • specific rider movement patterns
    • independent isolation for your seat, lower legs, and hands
    • floor, ball, and standing rider-specific exercises
    • finally, you will learn how to apply your new posture when riding

    So How Can You Buy My Applied Posture Riding Program?

    I have three different entry points and three different prices. You only need to choose one of these formats.

    1. The Applied Posture Riding E-Book  (Manual) Only.

    If you are on a budget and are happy to learn through reading and pictures then you have the option to buy the

    "Applied Posture Riding" E-Book (manual) as a stand-alone learning manual. 

    Once payment is complete you can download the E-Book as a PDF document. I offer full support via email to answer any questions.

     The purchase price is AU $102.30 (incl GST for Australian residents only)


    The Ultimate Learning Experience is in the Membership Mentoring  Program.

    Once you become an Applied Posture Riding Member you will have access to the program via a membership login. This mentoring program is the complete package offering step by step lessons from unmounted to applying your new skills in the saddle. The membership program includes the Ebook, all the videos, and a lot more content to enhance your learning.

    As a member you get.
    • The E-Book manual included.
    • All the Videos included.
    • The bonus education about posture and training included.
    • The rider videos transferring the training to the saddle.
    • Bonus videos about common rider problems.
    • Videos on how to fix common problems.
    • I will be continuing to add dressage and young horse training lessons.
    • I will also continue to add videos and info about injury and rehabilitation.
    • After Part 1and 2 have been established I have provided ongoing videos and support to continue your training.
    • You can contact me and ask any questions.
    • I am always available to teach and help I love what I do And I love the result riders have.
    • If you have any more qs just ask.
    • You can join via this link, scroll to the bottom of the page to see the join now button.  
    • Join The 12  Month Membership Program (and I have just extended this to 24months) and find out all the details of the program ($550 AUD)

     I am certain I can change the way you ride, if you want to discuss anything please contact me, I am happy to answer any questions.

  • The Sitting Trot With and Without Stirrups

    The Sitting trot with Stirrups is different to the sitting trot and without Stirrups Why?
    The difference is in how many weight bearing surfaces you have to balance on and the action of your muscles.
    The following images have been sourced from the internet.
    images 18When you ride with stirrups you have your weight down through your seat and heel. Your weight is supported by a platform, the stirrup.  At rest, you have a platform to support your lower leg. The stirrup gives you a place to rest your weight on.  The stirrup gives you something to push into and lever off of. (Riders often block their seat by using their stirrups to balance on.)
    download 6When you ride without stirrups your weight is totally down through your seat bones and your legs dangle at rest. You don't have that platform to rest and support your lower leg on. Without stirrups, you have to engage a set of muscles to hold your leg in position. These muscles are now working against gravity, this does not happen when you have stirrups.
    (Riders often bring in their hands to balance on when the stirrups are removed.)
    So there is a difference.
    So how does it affect how you train the Sitting trot?
    Our body relies on sensory inputs and we use our feet and hands to coordinate how we move. We learn this as babies.
    When you walk you know where you place your feet (automatically, unconsciously). When you use your hands your mind, your eyes have already set the movement and the action in motion (automatically and unconsciously).
    To ride the sitting trot requires riders to reprogram how you use your body. You cannot just do it!
    Your seat becomes the leading body part to train. How many times have you heard the comment "relax your seat" HOW?
    To train your seat you need to change your focus and also understand the influence other body parts have in your training. It is just a matter of HOW. We are trained to use our hands and our feet, not our seat, for function.  So you need to learn how to control your body and stop your body controlling you.
    images 24When you watch videos of elite dressage, think about what you are watching.
    First, they are elite, second, their horse is elite, third they have done hours of training and fourth they don't do any rising trot at that level. 
    Obviously, there are many more points to consider. 
    So training the sitting trot with stirrups requires a different sequence of muscle engagement and coordination than riding without stirrups. It is just a matter of learning the sequence of steps and putting it together and then practicing to train strength and endurance of those muscles.
    I train riders using a triple flexion movement pattern. This pattern becomes an automatic movement you can reproduce automatically when you go to the sitting trot pace. Of course, the core muscle is involved as well as training the coordination of your pelvis.
    The outcome is the same. You have the skill to ride the trot sitting in the saddle and control your lower leg with or without stirrups.
    Practise can be correct or incorrect!
    If you want to learn the difference and how to train to ride the sitting trot well then consider my Rider Biomechanics course.
    As a Physiotherapist, my approach is very easy to follow, I taught myself to ride using correct muscles patterns I now teach this.
    My membership program is for those of you who are serious about learning the steps and achieving success.
    For more information look here Applied Posture Riding Membership Program
    As a member you get.
    • The EBook manual included.
    • All the Videos included.
    • The bonus education about posture and training included.
    • The rider videos transferring the training to the saddle.
    • Bonus videos about common rider problems.
    • The rider riding lessons (Part 2) 
    • Videos on how to fix common problems.
    • I will be continuing to add dressage and jump lessons and young horse training lessons.
    • I will also continue to add videos and info about injury and rehabilitation.