An Adult Amateur's Ode to the Rising Trot

One rider shares how her feelings toward the rising trot have evolved over the years.
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As a kid, I hated rising the trot. To me, it was like being on Satan’s front porch. It was a lot of physical work to do on a horse with no impulsion. Walking around like a newborn giraffe because of soreness from my lower limbs was not something I found fun, let alone useful.

Alyssa Pilkington and "Borg"

Alyssa Pilkington and "Borg"

I started my dressage journey on an adorable leopard Appaloosa gelding. He was as smooth as a Buick with an epic suspension package that disguised every bump—even falling off of him felt like landing in a basket of roses. I showed him at the 4-H fair and excelled on dressage day; but no one told me I had to post the trot in the English bareback class—which added insult to injury to a task that I already despised. Posting without a saddle on a horse with zero bounce in the ninety-degree heat with a hunt coat on builds character.

It wasn’t until I got my first Dutch warmblood that I really valued what posting the trot had to offer. There is nothing like being thrown around on a 17-hand dust devil to get your legs toned. The three-year-old bay taught me a number of things about riding. I credit that doe-eyed gelding with cultivating my dressage basics. The youngster tested my balance with his own lack thereof. Keeping him straight was like pushing an unevenly-loaded wheelbarrow to the manure pile. We looked like a bag of cats for a while until those “Ah-ha!” moments mingled their way into our everyday routine.

After outgrowing the 4-H fair, the fun of the high school equestrian team began. In this format of competition, there were no individual placings—the teams were given points for how their riders ranked. A great way to get more points was to increase the odds by entering riders into every class. Even if none of the riders on a team rode Western, they did that day! I did many things that I had no specialization in; like showmanship, saddle seat and even barrel racing. Yes—I “ran” around barrels on a warmblood! Naturally, I was also thrown into the English bareback class. Posting the trot on a giant horse that literally tosses you from his back every stride is quite the balancing act. And I stayed on to tell the tale! I wish I could frame that Honorable Mention award. It was certainly one of my greatest equestrian achievements!

Thirteen years after the passing of my bouncy partner in crime, my heart belongs to another bay Dutch gelding. Posting the trot has a different meaning to me now. It is a warm-up to loosen my guy’s back and encourage forward motion. It’s my energy saver if being disorganized by half pass blows all the air from my lungs. Quite the opposite of my early days riding a smooth mover. Over the years I have learned to surge out of the saddle with the objective of improving the horse and bettering myself as a rider.

It has taken over twenty years and countless hours in the saddle to make the journey from Training Level to Third Level. With so much more to learn, I can count on going back to the basics, including rising trot, to get in sync with my horse. Not to mention my quads are shredded, so you could say things are getting pretty serious.

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