Riding bareback is a terrific way to learn to post to the trot. It teaches you balance and rhythm. You learn to relax into the horse. Start off at the walk. Let yourself go with the horse’s movements. When you are in tune with the rhythm of the walk, then try the trot. You may feel off balance right away. Stop the horse, but do not jerk on the horse’s mouth. That hurts the horse.
Walk until you feel ready to trot again. Once more, stop when you feel uncomfortable and do not jerk on the horse’s mouth.
After a while, you will find that you are comfortable trotting bareback. Your seat, legs, and back are relaxed. You are sitting up straight. You are holding the reins so that you have contact with the horse’s mouth but are not holding on with the reins. The horse is comfortable when you sit the trot this way.
For safety reasons, ride with a helmet, ride in an arena, and have a knowledgeable ground person with you at all times. When you trot the first few times, this person could trot alongside of you and the horse until you are ready to go solo.
She or her could also put the horse on a lounge line, which is like a long lead rope. At first, the ground person could give the signals for when the horse is to trot or walk, always, of course, when you are ready. Gradually, you could give the horse the cues yourself.
Make sure the ground person respects what you want and your feelings of safety. Have a kind, gentle horse who will take care of you.
I learned to post on Danny Boy, a bay half-Morgan gelding with a white star on his forehead. Danny was the first horse I ever stood close to. I remember his smell and the gleam of his hair. He seemed big and powerful. I was afraid and intrigued. In fact, he was about fourteen hands. At ten, I was about the same height.
My friend Gail and I took Danny out of his stall without the owner’s permission, put a bridle on him, and took turns riding him out in the field. At first I walked and got familiar with the slipperiness of his back. I liked the swinging motion of the walk and the nodding of his head as he walked. Danny may have known I was a kid who loved horses but didn’t know anything about riding. He did exactly what I asked him to do.
After a couple of short rides at the walk, I was ready to trot. Danny’s short legs delivered a small trot with minimum bounce. The trot felt strange at first but I got used to it. I had to relax my legs and sit up straight to feel comfortable.
After a couple of weeks, Gail and I put an English saddle on Danny. At first, the saddle felt hard and cold after sitting on Danny’s warm, muscled back I walked a bit and then nudged Danny into a trot. I had seen people post in movies and had read about posting in horse stories. I told myself to post. I did. It came naturally, all because I had first ridden Danny Boy bareback for two weeks.
Danny’s owner found out that Gail and I had been riding his horse. He thought it was great. Danny and his stable mate Gene, a big white Tennessee Walker, became ours to ride whenever we wanted. We were lucky kids.
When I was older, I took riding lessons. I learned more about posting, such as to keep my feet lightly in the stirrups, let my legs and seat relax, and let the horse’s rising back provide most of the energy needed to post. With heels down, heads up, back straight, and hands holding the reins to keep contact with the horse, you will post comfortably, the horse with be comfortable, and you will look good up there on that horse.