Feeling and Finding The Correct Diagonal in the Trot
Landing on the correct diagonal can be hit and miss for many riders. Let’s face it, there’s a chance you’ll get it right 50% of the time! And while most riders are pretty well versed on their diagonals in the trot… It’s ‘feeling’ the diagonal that causes confusion.
Trotting has a two-time beat. The 1,2,1,2,1,2,1,2,1,2 that you experience and feel when you’re in the saddle. If you do sitting trot, it will result in a sit,sit,sit,sit,sit,sit,sit,sit rhythm. However, most riders can ‘tire’ a little when it comes to riding a constant sitting trot! And so, we learn to post or rise in the trot.
The 1,2,1,2,1,2 is matched with an up,down,up,down,up,down of the riders backside. The rhythm of up-downs and the rhythm of the trot are a perfect match.
The Correct Diagonal
The reason your horse creates the 1,2, rhythm in the trot is because of how he moves his legs while he is trotting. The right-back foot moves with the front left foot. This is the ‘1’ part of the rhythm. Then the left-back foot moves with the right front foot. This is the ‘2’ part of the rhythm.
The trot is very ‘even’ with regards to what is moving where… This is also the reason it can be hard to ‘feel’ what diagonal you are on at any given point!
The correct diagonal is when you are moving with the inside hind leg - and, by association, outside front leg - of your horse. There is a little rhyme, ‘rise and fall with the shoulder by the wall’. That about sums it up. As your horse's outside shoulder is forward, you want to be ‘up’. As this shoulder moves back, you want to be down.
I have a post and an episode HERE about how to identify the correct diagonal through sight and voice...
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