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  • Writer's pictureMarilyn Bassett-Coffey

Posting Trot Mechanics - Using the “Chair Exercise Method”

Updated: Sep 18, 2023

This is an unmounted exercise.


Fact:

No matter what style/discipline of horseback riding you prefer, learning HOW to do the "Mechanics of Posting" can be beneficial to you and your horse!



Why?


This exercise can help correct rider's (bad) habits such as:

  • Swinging their leg(s) during the "Posting Trot."

  • A rider who "Slams/Flops" their seat down in the "Post"

  • Pulling on the horse's reins to "Post?"

  • Irregular rhythm of when to "Post."

This exercise can (while sparing the horse's back) create better dexterity, balance and strength for the rider’s body (thighs, legs, core, and lower back). Thus, the rider can be trained on what muscles they are supposed to be using during "Posting."


What you will need:


(Required)

  1. A (non-rolling) chair (stool not ideal) or you can use a "mounting block."

  2. Chair needs to be approximately 17 inches in height (measured from floor to seat of chair).

  • Chair height can have some variance based upon the participant’s overall height of body and or length of their leg(s).

(Optional)

  • Mirror (this can be used so the "participant" can see themselves during the exercise.

  • Set of riding reins (These can be attached to back of chair or held by another person behind the back of the chair).


How to preform “Exercise:”

  1. Participant should stand in front of chair, with feet spread at a comfortable “stance,” knees bent. (It can be helpful to place either the inner or outer edges of your feet against the closest two legs of the chair. This gives you a reference point if they want to move around during the exercise.)

  2. Have participant touch (not push) their knees to (closest) edge of the chair’s seat. Knees should be approximately as far apart as a horse’s “barrel” or at minimum slightly wider than the Participant’s shoulder width apart. Check that the toes are pointed straight and not pointed inward or outward.

  3. Participant should now “squat down” and “rise up” all the while attempting to not “pull their knees away” from the chair’s edge.

  • (Optional) If using “Riding reins,” participant can hold the reins with their hands when preforming this “squat down / rise up exercise.” You should check that they are not “pulling back on the reins” with their hands to “rise up” or “squat down.”


Disclaimer:

Participant should not feel extreme, sudden, or stabbing pain during this exercise. If they do, stop or decrease difficulty until comfortable.


Things to look for:


See in photo the knees remain touching the edge of the chair.
  • One or both of the participant’s knees should not pull away from the chair during the “rise up” or “squat down” motion.

  • The “squat down” does not need to be a “DEEP squat!” One should only lower themselves down to the angle of “sit” that would be “normal” for the participant when sitting in their preferred saddle.

At the top of the rise, the participant's hip flexor(s), thigh(s) and knee(s) should be in alignment, *almost* perpendicular to the ground (see yellow line).
  • MOST people do not come to the “top of the rise,” when posting… they “rise up” but keep their hip flexor closed, which thus results in a short thrust or swing of the post.

  • To know/check if the participant is at the “top” of the “rise,” the participant’s hip flexor(s) should be open at the very top of the rise.

  • If the participant is not able to open their hip flexors, try asking the participant to tuck their “tail bone” right at the top of the rise.

YouTube link to short visual description. https://youtu.be/5NY_4VC5TIk

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*Side Note: A “short” or “reserved post” could be used to discourage a horse from freely moving forward. If this is the desired outcome then you are free to do so; however, I believe riders should KNOW both techniques, and be aware of what their body is doing so they can have the tools necessary to help the horse.


Setting goals:

  • Start with 15 a day (4 days a week) and increase amount or frequencies as needed.

  • In the beginning, daily goal amount can be split up during the day. Add more per session to increase difficulty.

  • Long term goal over 100 in one sitting… over 500 in a week.

  • “Youngsters” or teens can set even higher goals, but exercises should never be painful.


What the “exercise” does in your body:



Where most people feel a “strain” is in their "Quadriceps Muscle(s).” What can be interesting is from person to person there can be varying degree of difficulty or ease of the movement(s) from one side to another. There can even be a varying degree of challenge in this exercise from the “squat down” or “rising up.”



Other muscles to note that could be affected are the “Gluteus Maximus” and “Gluteus Medius” also known as buttocks muscles. In horseback riding (in most cases), a rider would benefit from understanding the use and function of their Gluteus Medius vs their Gluteus Maximus muscle(s).


Leg muscles such as the Soleus and/or Gastrocnemius (calf muscles), or even the Hamstrings (back of the thigh), can play a part in this exercise primarily as the “body stabilizers.” This exercise will help riders who might be “leg swingers” because it teaches the participant HOW to use their CORE and THIGHS for the post mechanic instead of "standing" from their lower leg.

It probably comes to no surprise that as riders we use our core when horseback riding, so really, it’s not shocking that many of my students report they can feel their core muscles such as the “Rectus Abdominis,” "Transversus Abdominis" or even their “External/Internal Obliques” hard at work in this exercise.


Some of my students report that they feel their back muscles working! Muscles such as Erector Spinae, Latissimus Dorsi or even the Internal/External Oblique(s)! All of those Muscles (and the fascia) can act as stabilizers for the posting trot mechanics as well.




Teaching tip:

Next time you are in the arena (during a mounted lesson) with your student(s) teaching posting trot, see if you use words like “rise up” or “squat down” instead of “stand up” and “sit down.” The words “stand up” can inadvertently cause the rider to use the wrong muscles (pull knees straight back, and push feet down in stirrups too much) and this can result in a less than ideal body mechanics.


FUN FACT:

Do you know where the word "Posting" came from?

One theory behind the origin of the term "posting" came from the word "Postilion," the rider who controlled the pace of the carriage horses (the "post-boy" in England). Most likely he would have had to post most of the journey. Trotting was the pace the carriages would usually use as the horses would tire too quickly at the canter.


Another common theory (perhaps very similar to the above) is when mail was transported via horseback when the "Post Man" came riding into town, the rider would "rise and sit" in time with the horse's trot and this marked him as the "Post Man." Thus, the term "Posting" for the trot became common knowledge.





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