The Trot: All About The Horse’s 2-Beat Gait


I’m sure all, if not most of us, have heard the term trot before. Some of you may know exactly what a trot is and how to ride it easily while others may not quite know what a trot is and won’t be able to tell when a horse is trotting. The trot, a two-beat gait, is an easily identifiable gait once you know what you are looking for.

What Is The Trot?

The trot is a gait that horses do that is just faster than the walk. The trot can also be known as the jog and is performed in nearly all styles of riding from English to Western. The trot is a two beat gait where the legs of the horse diagonal from each other move forward at the same time. The trot is typically a fairly bumpy gait that is often ridden when posting to make the ride smoother and a bit easier.

How Can You Tell When A Horse Is Trotting?

You can tell a horse is trotting by looking at a few different things. One of these things is the horse’s leg movements. As I mentioned above, the trotting horse will move the legs diagonally from each other forward at the same time. The legs will appear to be stretched out on one side while meeting together on the other side.

Another way to tell if a horse is trotting is if the gait is a two-beat gait. In one stride, the hooves will hit the ground twice. You can hear the beats in the horse’s gait going one, two, one, two and so on which can also indicate the trot gait.

Another way you can tell a horse is trotting is by looking at the rider. If the rider is bouncing or standing and sitting with the gait (also known as posting), it is likely that the horse is performing the trot.

How Fast Is The Trot?

Different horses will perform this gait at different speeds. For example, a Quarter Horse who is used for western pleasure will take smaller slower steps than an American Saddlebred who is used for Saddle Seat classes. Though there can be a difference in speed for the trot depending on the size, type, and discipline of the horse, the average speed for the horse’s trot is around 8 miles per hour (12-13 kilometers per hour).

Is The Trot Smooth Or Bumpy To Ride?

Because every horse is different, this can be really hard to say. One of the horses I ride, a mare named Olivia, has a very rough canter, but her trot is so smooth that you can sit it easily. Another horse I ride, my sister’s old Arabian Cross Fiire, has a super smooth canter, but his trot is so rough that you can’t post it or sit it comfortably. It really depends on the horse!

In most cases however, the trot is a pretty bumpy gait that is best ridden when posting to make it a more smooth and comfortable ride.

How Do You Ride The Trot Easily?

Most riders, especially English riders, will ride the trot performing something known as posting. Posting is basically the standing and sitting of a rider on a horse while the horse trots. This way, the ride is much more comfortable as you aren’t trying to sit down on a bouncy surface as your horse moves, you rise and fall with them instead.

To post, find the rhythm of your horse’s trot. The way I learned is thinking one, two, one, two, over and over to learn the rhythm. Once you learn the rhythm of your horse’s trot easily, try standing and sitting with the trot. Change the chant in your mind from one, two, one, two to stand, sit, stand, sit. This way, it is easier to know when to stand and sit with your horse’s movements.

When you stand, push your hips forward slightly and make sure not to fall forward. Just because you are posting forward doesn’t mean you should start to lean or fall forward too. Keep upright and control your motion. Don’t worry if you are disorganized at first, everyone has to start somewhere!

Can You Sit Down While Your Horse Is Trotting?

Yes! There are many disciplines that have the riders sit the trot rather than posting to it. Some examples of disciplines that ask riders to sit the trot include western pleasure and dressage. These disciplines are almost complete opposites and come from completely different riding styles.

The way you can sit the trot when riding it is by doing a few things to make it a little easier for you. The first thing I recommend doing to make sitting the trot a little easier is to make sure you are sitting upright and on your seat. If you are leaning forward and riding on your crotch (which I have a bad habit of doing), it is a lot harder to comfortably ride the trot when sitting while staying balanced as well. Sitting on your seat will help to better engage and establish your center of gravity.

Don’t rely on your stirrups! Riding the sitting trot should incorporate mainly your seat! What I do to help keep my seat sturdy when sitting on the trot is to press my feet into my stirrups every time I bounce to help stabilize myself and to help keep my stirrups. Flexing your core as well and moving your hips with your horse also tends to help in keeping your seat locked in and your sitting trot stable.

Because every horse moves differently, the tactics I use on my horses may not work as well for you as they do for me, so play with it! Adjust these things to what works best for you and your horses and to what makes sitting your trot more easy and comfortable not only for you but for your mount as well.

Overall, the trot is a fairly bumpy gait that can be made easier to ride by doing a few different things. Adjusting to your horse and learning what works best to make your trotting experience more smooth can help to make the whole trot more enjoyable.

Hailey Johnson

Horses have been my passion ever since I can remember. At school, I was known as that weird horse girl, and I would read horse encyclopedias for fun. Over the years since those days, I have only learned more. My experiences with horses of a variety of breeds have taught me a lot. Now I want to share what I know with you!

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