Posting

There’s only one way to skin a cat…and a million ways to teach posting. Here are a bunch of ideas from various sources that I’ve somewhat organized for all the what’s, why’s and how’s of posting.

Posting Trot

What

  • avoid every other bump by rising as the horse steps with one diagonal pair
  • be able to ride and sit as the horse’s diagonal legs land (sit) and push off (rise)
  • the rider’s hips move forward and back on alternate beats at the trot

Why

  • posting makes the trot easier and more comfortable on both horse and rider – especially if the horse has a rough trot, is trotting very fast, or is trotting for a long time
  • posting on the outside diagonal helps the horse balance its and your weight in the turns because during turns the horse carried more weight on its inside hands and reaches further forward with its outside fore, the 2 legs you post up with – aka sitting with the inside hind allows the horse to rupport the rider’s weight better

When

  • some teach sitting trot first because it’s harder for riders with disabilities to grasp posting
  • some teach posting trot first because it’s harder to follow the horse’s movement for sitting trot

How to Post

  • allow the horse to push you forward out of the saddle a few inches on one beat, and sit down on the next beat
  • 3 parts: 1) Up (let the horse push you up out of the saddle), 2) Forward (when the horse’s movement bumps you up, move your hips/belly button forward toward your hands), 3) Down (gravity does to you, just stay balanced and controlled, sitting down lightly)
  • begin posting by letting the horse’s motion push you out of the saddle, and at the same times stand gently until you feel your knee move downward, push your seat forward instead of upward, then sit back down
  • rise no higher than is necessary – too high throws off your balance, makes you less secure in the saddle, and makes your leg come off your horse’s side – being lower makes you closer to his center of gravity
  • push your seat forward instead of upward – this lessons how high you rise and keeps you feeling more secure and balanced
  • hands stay still by opening and closing your elbows – start off holding the grab strap or the mane, or touching knuckles to withers
  • don’t use the reins to pull yourself out of the saddle, this hurts the horse’s mouth and makes him slow down. Let the horse’s spring push you out of the saddle like bouncing on a trampoline.
  • legs stay still and don’t move with heels down, because this way they can be most effective and ready to aid (wrong position and swinging legs can’t be used easily)
  • keep your feet under you so you can stand up on them
  • pivot at the knee, but don’t grip with knees because it’s unhelpful and exhausting
  • correct diagonal: “rise and fall with the leg on the wall”

How to Teach Posting

  • What I did
    • At the walk, point out the outside shoulder and how it moves forward an backward
    • You start saying  up-down or 1-2 with the shoulder as it goes forward-backward
    • Have THEM say it
    • Have them get up in 2 point and sit back down to that same rhythm – if they can keep watching the shoulder and saying the rhythm it helps
    • Have them do sitting trot and you count up-down or 1-2 to the beat
    • Have THEM count
    • Have them attempt posting trot to that same rhythm, as you call out up-down or 1-2
    • As soon as they get it, have them look up instead of down at the shoulder. Teach them how to only use their eyes to glance down, or else their balance gets thrown off. (Note: some instructors don’t like the rider looking down because it throws their upper body off balance and can create a bad habit, but I think it helps some riders to have that visual cue of the shoulder going forward – I know it helped me as a kid.)
  • Posting from feeling the hind legs (for the advanced rider)
    • At the walk, call out when the horse’s inside leg goes forward (now…now…now) or when his hind legs go right-left-right-left, as the rider feels it happen – or call out “up” when the outside hip moves up, as that’s when the inside leg is pushing off and the outside leg is being lifted up and forward so it moves the rider’s hip the same way
    • Have the rider call it out
    • Repeat at the sitting trot – on the lunge line the rider can close their eyes and sway their hip with exaggeration to get the feel
    • Start posting when the inside leg moves forward
  • 2 point first
    • teach 2 point trotting
    • teach how to count the 1-2-1-2 trot beat during 2 point
    • have them sit down for one beat, get back up for a few, progressing to down one up one
    • Note: some say don’t teach 2 point first because it teaches incorrect posting position – leaning forward impedes the thrust lifting you out of the saddle
  • Other Ideas
    • teach posting on lunge line! because the student can focus on posting not on steering
    • have kids learn to rise faster by pretending there is a pin in the saddle, so each time they sit they yell “ow!” and get up quicker
    • put colored wraps on the horse’s legs to explain trotting diagonals – especially handy in group lessons, when they can watch each other post and determine if they’re on the right diagonal
    • use a big strided schooling horses because their big trot gives the rider more processing time
    • make the goal be posting to the rhythm 1-2-1-2, but if the rider stays seated or standing continue counting so they feel when they continued sitting or standing instead of getting back up – for example, for a rider who posts up one beat but sits several you might call out 1-2-3-4, 1-2-3, 1-2, 1-2-3-4 – or for the same rider you might call out up-down-down-down, up-down-down, up-down, up-down-down-down
    • note: too-short stirrups can cause the rider to pop up and down too much

Progression

  • holding grab strap > not holding grab strap
  • how to be on the correct diagonal
  • sit two beats to change posting diagonal
  • maintain consistent posting rhythm to keep horse in consistent trotting rhythm
  • speed up or slow down rhythm to speed up or slow down horse’s trot
  • post on the wrong diagonal on the straight stretches to exert more influence on the horse’s inside leg to help him engage his hindquarters

Etymology

  • The word “posting” comes from being named after the post-boys or postilion, the rider who “was the driver of a horse-drawn coach or post chaise, mounted on one of the drawing horses. By contrast, a coachman would be mounted on the vehicle along with the passengers.” (wikipedia) “In the days of diligences and stage coaches the post boys who rode the near horse of each pair soon found that they did not get as tired if they rose in their stirrups on each alternate diagonal. This came to be known as posting. Now if you wonder why riders were not posting. The favorite Saddler in those days was always an ambler, so the ordinary horseman merely sat quietly to that easy gait, but the stage coach horses trotted. …As the use of horses changed, so did the purpose of riding styles. The show ring evolved and posting became main stream. ” (horseshowcentral)

Resources

How do YOU teach posting?

In particular, how do you teach posting to riders with delayed processing? (I have a few that seem to get the concept, and post the walk well, but when we go to trotting it’s up-up-down-down or up-down-down-down-up.)

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Note: This is not professional advice, this is a blog. I am not liable for what you do with or how you use this information. The activities explained in this blog may not be fit for every rider, riding instructor, or riding center depending on their current condition and resources. Use your best personal judgement!

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