Challenge 7: Rate my Rhythm

There is clarity in the rising rhythm when we are trotting. It is a really good way of getting horses to tune into our seat and stay with us and our rhythm. 

This is a fairly rewarding Challenge to do. Most horses that I see will start to tune into their person’s rhythm quite quickly. They start to relax and loosen up – and suddenly – more things become available.

The previous Challenge you did was to get our horses confident with our legs and if our horses are responding well to this, then slipping into the trot should be easy. You’ll work on getting different trotting speeds, and you will find the sweet spot.

Key ML Horsemanship Principle:


Your 7th Challenge:

Rate my Rhythm.

Watch the videos then give this a go!

If you are riding a faster/ more forward horse that usually has a rushed trot transition, you can use the walking exercise in the previous Challenge to walk your horse up into the fast walk until it feels like it starts to think “trot” but the feet haven’t quite got there. Relax and breathe out when the horse does this. Then build the walk again, and set your horse up to gently float into trot.

For slow horses, it doesn’t really matter – you can just put them into a trot.

The best thing you can do is to start in the trot that is your horses most normal, comfortable trot. I usually set this in my mind as a platform that I work from. From this platform I can choose to go up a step or down a step. Some horses may only have just 1 step up or below “their trot”; others have quite a range of steps.

Start trotting at your horse’s platform, then gently rise a step faster with your trotting seat. I don’t want you to energise your seat and create a speed that your horse finds too hard to catch. I want your horse to be able to match your new rhythm. Hold the new speed for a little bit. Then try another step up or down.

If your horse struggles with range in the trot, go back to your horses platform trot quite quickly. Others may be okay holding the new speeds a little longer.

Slowly build one step at a time above and below your platform until you are multiple steps above and below your platform.

If your horse’s natural trot platform is higher up then work on more steps below until it can trot very slowly, just above the walk.
If your horse’s natural trot platform is on the bottom of the trotting staircase, then build more steps above.

Try to set it up so you are doing only one thing at a time (avoid kicking and turning)

For the rushy horse:

Sometimes you can put feel through the reins enough to slow your horse back to your rhythm. Alternatively, take a tight enough inside turn until they slow back to your rhythm and their mind comes back. Either way you are holding until you get a change of thought and speed. Loosen as soon as they are back in your rhythm.

If your horse falls below, just use your legs enough to get them to speed up and then don’t use your legs – give them responsibility to carry that trot.

Things to watch for:

Expect a change from one seat adjustment at a time. Don’t keep strengthening your seat – your horse either followed you or it didn’t. Your legs are there for when your horse falls behind, not your seat.

It is common in the trot for people to want to stay in rhythm and for them to accidentally speed up with their horses trotting rhythm. This would mean that you are following your horse in it’s rhythm and it tells the horse that what it is doing (speeding up) is okay.  So – know your answer to the question before you ask it.

If you use your legs – make sure you use them to make a change. Don’t hold your horse in a speed with your legs.

Your reins need to be loose – have enough slack for your horse to stretch it’s head if it needs to.

Complete the course questions