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Understanding the Sitting Trot

Exploring the effect of the laws of nature during a horse's trot

Roger Guevremont
March 1, 2013

This is a portion of the document found at



Trot without bounce?
Can one learn the sitting trot without the 'bounce'? Yes. We explain WHY the rider must not push his foot against the stirrup. We explain why his hips and waist must be flexible while his upper body remains firm. Understanding is the key to developing a sitting trot without the 'bounce' against the saddle.



A horse's trot is composed of two phases: (a) the horse's diagonal hooves are on the ground and (b) the horse is airborne in 'suspension'. During (a) both the horse and rider feel additional weight because they are pulled downwards as if they were in the valley of a roller coaster. During (b) the horse and rider are both weightless in 'suspension'. While weightless the horse and rider can freely drift apart if any forces initiate their motion away from each other.



With special Thanks to:

Maria Guevremont, we appreciate your comments about the clarity and understandability of this document. Since Maria is not a horseback rider, she ensured that no "horseback lingo" would make it difficult for a beginner to understand the information presented here. Thanks for help with editing everything from spelling to grammar.

Irina Yastrebova, english/dressage instructor in Edmonton. Irina has been riding and teaching for 25 years in both Russia and Canada. She has MSc in biology and has studied anatomy and biomechanics related to horse and rider. Please visit Irina's web page: Balanced Rider

Natalie Gaanderse, a rider since childhood and a long-time instructor. Thanks Natalie, for your understanding in reading our early drafts. Thanks for your help in enlightening Roger about the sitting trot.


Who is this for?
Words and their definition
      Beginner in learning the sitting trot (BinT)
      Sitting Trot
      Weight and Mass
      Acceleration due to Gravity
      Flexibility and Elasticity
The Gaits of the horse
Leg Motion during the Trot
The Bag of Oats
The Rubber Ball
The Human Rider
      BEGINNER not learning the trot
      Our BinT TRIES to do a TROT
            We review what went wrong
The Elasticity Factor
The Riding Instructor and the Sitting Trot
A Rider does a Successful Sitting Trot
CONCLUSION Are we learning how to do the Trot?
Later Thoughts


Roger is trying to learn the sitting trot. Because he has interests and experience in the world of science and physics, he always asks himself what explanations lie behind the instruction being given. He always asks WHY, and again later, WHY?

With some effort at his desk and computer, he began to understand the details related to the sitting trot. Once he had reached a pretty good understanding he vowed to give it a try at the next riding lesson. It worked perfectly! His instructors said he was ready to hold the reins while trotting.

He decided that by writing down his thoughts, these ideas might help other students improve their performance too. Together, Roger and Irina, a skilled instructor, (Balanced Rider) try to make learning to do the sitting trot somewhat less challenging.

Who is this for?

We have written two versions of this document. The first is somewhat simpler and targeted primarily for the beginner learning the sitting trot. From now on we'll refer to him as "BinT" as short for "beginner in learning the trot". In this document we hope to help the BinT understand WHY he has to do certain things in order to execute a successful sitting trot.

The second document is more complete and can be of assistance to those with a desire to learn more about the trot. By understanding the motions of horse and rider and what we see and feel, we will strive for improvement in performance. Importantly, we will understand WHY we try to do the things leading to better performance.

We begin. This discussion covers several subjects. Some subjects are a little dry, but please be patient. We think you may be surprised at the levels of complexity and simplicity that coexist in the sitting trot.

Words and their definition

The Gaits of the horse


In a walk the horse always has two or three feet on ground at any time. The four feet (hooves) are placed down in a fixed pattern.
The walk pattern is: (i)( Left Hind ) then (ii)( Left Fore ) then (iii)( Right Hind ) then (iv)( Right Fore, .... then repeat


The trot is a repeating pattern in which the diagonal legs move together.
The gait pattern is: (i)( left hind and right fore together ) suspension (ii)( right hind left fore together ) suspension, .... then repeat

It might be helpful to number the legs
1 left hind
2 left fore
3 right hind
4 right fore

The walk can now be simplified to stepping sequence of legs: 1-2-3-4
The trot is simplified to: (1 and 4)-suspension-(2 and 3)

During both the walk and trot the most significant motion of the horse is in the forward direction. Virtually all of his most powerful muscles are used to propel him forward. With that acknowledgement, we then turn our attention to the motions in other directions, most importantly for discussion of the trot, the motion in the up/down direction.

The horse's movements during the walk and trot are very complex. In most of this document we will focus our attention on the biggest up/down motion during the trot. This motion is most apparent while learning the sitting trot since the rider is very aware of this vertical motion via the jolts on his rear end. However, for completeness, we will also add here that the rider will experience several other more subtle motions from the horse. The saddle tilts from side to side as the powerful rear legs push the horse up and down. The saddle also tilts forward and backward. These motions exist but, in his learning struggles, are not the primary the source of difficulty for the BinT rider.

The Horse's Leg Motion during the Trot

Details of the horse's leg motion and their effect on the horse during the trot
(a) assume a STARTing point where the horse's diagonal legs (1,4) just touch the ground after suspension
(b) horse is descending and these diagonal legs begin to flex to stop the horse's downward motion
(c) all downward motion is stopped and the legs are at maximum bend, ready to push upwards
(d) these diagonal legs (1,4) push upwards together and the horse rises. This upward motion starts slowly and accelerates going upward
(e) after their push these diagonal legs (1,4) become nearly extended, push is no long available and the horse is airborne in "suspension"
(f) the horse continues to rise upward as result of the strong push, however gravity is slowing the upward motion.
(g) the horse's upward motion is stopped by gravity. It is neither moving upwards or downwards.
(h) now the horse is descending downward but all of its feet remain off the ground - it is still airborne or in "suspensiom".
(i) the other diagonal legs (2,3) reach out to get contact with the ground
(j) the diagonal legs (2,3) make contact touching the ground .... this step is the same as step (a) above, but now legs (2,3) replace (1,4).


The Author

Roger Guevremont, retired from a scientific career. The primary product of his research work was FAIMS, a technology described on his web page: FAIMS. After a highway accident that cost him a leg, he faced the world with new eyes. Horseback riding suddenly put new legs into his life. Learn more at about Roger


The complete document in its simple version "Exploring the effect of the laws of nature during a horse's trot" is in the attached pdf file click here

A more detailed version (more physics, more complex) is attached "Exploring the effect of the laws of physics during a horse's trot" click here