Sitting the Trot (for cowponies, too)

In this video, I talk about developing your ability to sit a trot… and why that’s the most efficient gait when you’re working a cow.


Hey, it’s Barb and I want to talk to you today about trotting… and specifically two things.

The first is sitting a trot. The second is the efficiency of sitting a trotting when you’re working a cow.

Let’s start with sitting a trot. Depending on your horse’s gait, trotting sometimes can be a comfortable and fun gait, and other times it is not so comfortable!

Actually this guy, Nic is not very comfortable. He has a pretty rough trot.

What I want to show you is something I learned from my friend Julie Goodnight about how you can think about sitting a trot. The great side benefit is that it helps tremendously with developing a more stable and grounded seat.

To begin, take a deep breath. I exhale down into my core. I feel Nic through my sit/seat bones. At a walk, I can feel those bones really easily. When I exhale I feel really connected to my seat. My legs feel soft yet close to my horse.

Now, when you ask to trot, focus on feeling your hips move up and down with the trotting motion. If I do get tight and raise up, my body gets rigid and my horse speeds up. When I exhale and focus on my hips going back and forth, side-to-side, up and down… and sit back just a little… Nic slows down and the trot is easier to sit.

Now, a word about our cow horses. The trot is the most ideal gait for working a cow. We want to develop a slow, medium, and fast sitting trot. With a sitting trot, your horse can stop, draw and pivot anywhere… anytime… efficiently.

Have a great week. You know how I love to hear what you think. I’d love for you to leave a comment.

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10 Comments on Sitting the Trot (for cowponies, too)

  1. Donna on Sun, 7th Jun 2020 2:01 pm
  2. I will practice sitting trot more. I tend to post to stay off my horses back, but when she is warm I’ll do more. She is good with speeds and responds to slowing or increasing speed by my posting speed.
    PS also working and some success with my recovery breath and waiting for hers; about 50% time so far.

  3. Carol MacGregor on Sun, 7th Jun 2020 3:25 pm
  4. Hi Barb, I always love to watch you riding Nic!! Looks like, and sounds like you and Julie Goodnight had an awesome clinic together! And I loved watching you ride Nic at the sitting trot. I plan to work on that tomorrow when I ride with my friend. Thank you!!! I’ll bet it is relaxing for the horse too. Very interesting that the trot is such a useful gait for cutting horses and that makes sense as far as their ability to stop quickly when two feet are already on the ground! 😉

  5. Jenna on Sun, 7th Jun 2020 4:55 pm
  6. I recently found your site and bought your flag tips dvd. I am starting to go through your content and am enjoying your manner and the presentation of your skills. I am impressed with your accomplishments, not a lot of women in the cutting horse world in the hall of fame! As a woman wanting to “break into” the cutting world and find trainer I like and can relate to it’s wonderful to see your videos.

    I am looking at some of your retreats and thinking about a good time to try and attend. Loving everything so far and thanks for putting this out!

  7. Claire on Sun, 7th Jun 2020 5:58 pm
  8. Hey Barb-One thing I notice a LOT- particularly with western discipline riders is that they have not played around with the length of their stirrups.

    Often even a half inch shorter(or more), brings so much more stability, balance and less stress on the pelvis and back.

    Especially in the saddles that put your leg forward of center for dealing with fast stops and turns-a person can really get to depending on scooting their seat forward-to reach and keep their stirrup.

    I notice that yours always look comfortable for your long legs and that the stirrup base would probably hit somewhere around your ankle bone if your foot was dropped out…BUT-I am guessing. At any rate-you are not stressing the position of your upper body/pelvis in order to keep your stirrups-you look like you could ride all day.

    That ankle bone was the visual I was always given to start from-and then play up or down from there depending on comfort/stability. It may feel funny at first-but oddly more balanced and less tight.

    I tend to change stirrup length depending on the width of the horse, or the saddle type-and my legs are really short…like child sized short. People with more muscular thighs might need them shorter than a person with less muscle mass.

    I don’t know how many western riders I’ve encouraged to shorten their stirrup just a hole or two-or even punch a hole between a hole if needed, that had a “hole” new lease on comfort and stability. The immediate relief to their hips and knees is a “hole” new look at the sport from the saddle! 🙂

    No one should be feeling like they are reaching or stretching from the pelvic area just to find their stirrup.
    If people loose their stirrups a lot-that is most likely one of the symptoms.

    Being unable to really find your seat ever-is another-as your pelvis is tipped forward to keep your legs long enough to reach the stirrups and keep them-especially in a forward slung stirrup leather placement.

    Two other self measurement guidelines: put your stirrup bottom in your armpit-your hand should rest right over where the stirrup joins the tree.
    OR: Stand up in your stirrups-you should be able to have a hands width between your butt and the saddle. If you are barely clearing it-or just moving “up”-try a shorter stirrup and see how it helps you! 🙂
    Thanks for letting me make a “case”.

  9. Nancy Mercurio on Sun, 7th Jun 2020 10:55 pm
  10. Hi Barb. Thanks for that video. I love a sitting trot especially when it’s a real smooth gait. And Megan was just telling me to disengage my lower half of my spine and letting it go back-and-forth just like you were saying. I realize it’s much more comfortable! Nic looks like an awesome horse and you make his trot look comfortable!

  11. laurel laba on Mon, 8th Jun 2020 9:08 am
  12. Hi Barb,
    Thank you for discussing how the trot works best for working cattle. I am working on my ranch cutting and this concept really hit home with me today.

  13. Amy on Mon, 8th Jun 2020 10:02 pm
  14. Great video! Sitting trot is always the hardest for me to master. I am looking forward to trying out your advice!

  15. kathy tipton on Tue, 9th Jun 2020 7:30 am
  16. thanks, Barb, the sitting trot has helped my horse slow down and relax (me too)

  17. Devon Camilleri on Mon, 15th Jun 2020 4:43 pm
  18. Sitting a trot is good for horse and the rider if the rider has a loose, soft back. I am working on herd work and trying to keep my horse more in a trot than accelerating to a lope to stay in position on the cow. Found Claire’s comment on stirrup length interesting, my lower back hurts after working a cow. May need to adjust my stirrups and check it out for more support.
    I haven’t been able to get on your Zoom meetings. Help.

  19. Devon Camilleri on Mon, 15th Jun 2020 4:45 pm
  20. Barb, I love your Little Book of Cutting Tips. I keep it close ad refer to it often to remind me.
    Thank you,

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