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How To Tell You’re On The Correct Posting Diagonal At The Trot

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Riding on the correct posting diagonal can be a challenge for beginners. Dive into our comprehensive guide that is going to make mastering this horse riding skill as easy as pie.

Figuring out when you are on the correct posting diagonal at the trot can be tricky at first when you are just learning to ride horses. Eventually with practice this will get easier and you will be able to get on the correct posting diagonal just by feeling it.

First let’s review the trot gait a little bit.

The Trot Gait

The trot is a two beat, diagonal gait which has a moment of suspension between each step.

The horse’s legs move in diagonal pairs. For example the right hind and left front move together, then the moment of suspension following the left hind and right front pair stepping forward together.

How To Tell Correct Posting Diagonal

To tell that you are riding on the correct posting diagonal look at your horse’s shoulder. You must rise when the horse’s outside shoulder is going forward and then sit down when the outside shoulder comes back.

Correct Diagonal On A Straight Line Or Out On The Trails

Your posting diagonal doesn’t matter too much when you are riding on a straight line or if you are out trail riding. However you do want to make sure that you frequently change your posting diagonal during these circumstances in order to avoid the horse from uneven balance and muscle development.

Posting On The Incorrect Diagonal

Don’t feel bad if you keep posting on the wrong diagonal as you are learning. Many riders find it hard to tell which trot diagonal they are rising on without leaning forward and looking down at the horse’s shoulders to check.

However keep practicing and you will soon develop a feel for the correct posting diagonal.

Starting To Practice Getting The Correct Posting Diagonal

In the beginning use the horse’s shoulder as a guide, as to whether or not you are on the correct posting diagonal. This is because it is easy to see if you glance down the horse’s shoulder moving forwards and backwards.

  1. First just get used to being able to tell when the horse’s shoulder is forward and back.

  1. Once you get the hang of knowing when the horse’s shoulders are forward or back then practice rising when the outside shoulder is forward.

At the trot if the horse’s shoulder is forward the front leg is forward and the opposite hind leg is forward. So if you rise when the horse’s outside front leg is forward then you are also up with the inside hind is forward, which you would be on the correct posting diagonal.

Current Theory For Why These Posting Diagonals

The current theory for why you should rise on this diagonal is that it leaves the inside hind leg, (which does most of the pushing around a turn or circle) to be free to come forward, unhindered by the rider’s weight.

This is to help encourage free forward movement, providing that the rider is not restricting the horse with the reins.

Learning To Post On The Correct Diagonal By Feel

Like I said before you can learn to post on the correct diagonal through feel. This eliminates the need for you to look down, which has the potential to unbalance you and your horse.

As one of the horse’s hind feet come forward, the same side on the horse’s back will dip down, the opposite front leg will come forward at the same time.

You can practice getting this feeling in the sitting trot or even the walk. If you are very unbalanced in the sitting trot you can start off feeling the back dip in the walk.

If you can keep a relaxed balanced seat in the sitting trot even better. You should be able to feel the dip which means that hind leg is coming forward.

Practice rising with the dip that is to the inside which will be connected to the outside shoulder. Remember don’t look down you are practicing feel.

Again you can always spend some time feeling your horse’s hind legs move forward underneath you at the walk and then progress to a slow, then active sitting trot.

Make sure to loosen your seat and leg muscles. When you feel the outside hind drop (hind leg is coming forward) then rise on the next beat and carry on from there. You should be on the correct diagonal.

Quick Review Points

  • The horse’s trot is a 2 beat rhythm and the horse’s legs move in diagonal pairs.
  • Starting out rise when the outside shoulder comes forward, sit when it goes back.
  • Develop feel of when the horses hind leg is forward.
  • Whichever hind leg is forward that side of the back dips.
  • When the outside hind dips rise on the next beat and you will get the correct posting diagonal by feel.

Have fun riding!

Cheers, Kacey

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Disclaimer Notice: Please be aware that horseback riding and related equestrian activities carry inherent risks. The advice and experiences shared on this blog are for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for professional training or advice. Ensure your safety and that of your horse by wearing appropriate gear, practicing safe horse handling, and consulting with certified equestrian professionals. Remember, each horse is unique, and techniques may vary accordingly. Always prioritize safety, respect, and patience in your equestrian endeavors.

Kacey Cleary Administrator
Kacey has been an equestrian since 1998. She was a working student at several eventing and dressage barns. She has owned horses, leased horses, and trained horses. Kacey received an A.S. in Equine Industries from UMass Amherst, where she rode on the dressage team. She was certified with the ARIA and is licensed to teach riding in MA. She has been a barn manager and has run her own horse farm.
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