By Eliza Sydnor Romm
This one harkens back to my childhood! I played around with a lot of disciplines as a kid – dressage, jumping, vaulting, herding cows, and galloping around bareback and falling off! These exercises were some that I used to do more often in jump lessons to strengthen my legs. But I was reminded of them a few years ago, in a lesson with Suzanne von Dietze.
A) Up 2 down 1 – Change your posting diagonal by standing UP two beats, rather than sitting two beats. Once you’ve got the hang of that, try going UP 2, down 1, UP 2, down 1, etc. If this is hard, it’s likely because you rely on “crashing” down in the down moment of the post, OR you post off your irons, rather than the muscles in your legs. This exercise will help you find your balance through your body better, and not your hands. Feel free to start out holding onto the mane or the bucking strap for extra balance, and then try to let go once you have the hang of it.
B) Counting Ups and Downs – Post up 1, sit 1, UP 2, SIT 2, UP 3, SIT 3, UP 4, SIT 4, etc, etc, etc. You can go as high as you’d like, but I usually go to 10 and then post normally and start over. This one is a real leg strengthener.
C) Up 3, sit an odd number – this one helps to increase the number of strides you can sit the trot. Post 3 whole strides, then sit 3 beats, then post 3 whole strides, sit 5 beats, post 3, sit 7, post 3, sit 9, etc. If you start on the correct diagonal, and you sit an ODD number of beats, you will always come up on the correct diagonal.
All of these exercises are shown and explained in the video below. The best benefit I find for the rider is improving their understanding of rhythm. These seem pretty simple (it’s just posting trot, after all 😎) but they’re quite hard for most riders. But if you can master these, you’ll really have a solid understanding of the rhythm (2 beats) and tempo (speed of that 2-beat rhythm) in the trot.
About the Author
Eliza Sydnor Romm is an FEI rider and trainer based in Snow Camp, NC. She is a USDF Certified Instructor Training-Fourth Level, successful competitor through Grand Prix, and popular clinician. Eliza, and her assistant trainer, Kate Tackett, work with horses and riders of all levels and specialize in starting young horses under saddle. Visit www.elizasydnordressage.com for more information, find her on Facebook @ElizaSydnorDressage, and subscribe to her YouTube channel for some great instructional videos!