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Horsemanship How-to: Sit the Jog Better

Here's how to get a smooth ride on your western pleasure horse.

By Cindy Hale | January 25, 2012

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Western Jog

Part of the allure of riding western is sitting astride a slow-legged horse as it moseys along at a jog. Faster than a walk, slower and more relaxed than a lope, the jog is the gait most favored for covering ground on trail rides. In the show pen, novice riders typically master the walk/jog division before moving up the ranks. But what if you’re having trouble getting in the groove when it comes to sitting still at the jog? If you struggle to sit the jog without bouncing, here are some suggestions.

  • Check the length of your stirrups. If they’re too long you’ll either roll too far back on your tail bone or too far forward on your pelvis in an effort to keep your boot in the stirrup. That’ll undermine your position in the saddle and make you more likely to bounce. Stirrups that are too short will create too severe of a bend in your knee, forcing you to perch above the saddle. That will also make your seat insecure.

  • Once your stirrups are adjusted properly, think of sitting "in” the saddle rather than "on” the saddle. With that same mindset, relax your lower back so the muscles of your lower back and core midsection can follow the natural movement of the horse.

  • To help get the feel of following the motion of your horse, take your feet out of the stirrups and stretch your legs down and around the barrel (rib cage) of your horse. Much like riding bareback (another way to develop a more natural seat), riding without stirrups will force you to connect with your horse’s back and follow the motion of each stride.

  • Though you want to maintain an erect upper body with good posture, strive to do that without holding yourself in place by gripping with your thigh and knee. Such bad habits will cause your seat to pop up and out of the saddle with each stride at the jog.

  • How schooled is your horse? A horse that’s high-headed with a hollow (inverted) back is typically rough to sit. Manipulating the headset with draw reins or a tie-down and restricting the trot to a slower speed rarely results in a smooth jog. Instead it requires consistent schooling to help the horse collect its stride, slow its pace and develop self-carriage. Such qualities help create a jog that’s much smoother to sit.

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Reader Comments

Cindy    Vincennes, IN

7/19/2013 6:54:01 AM

agree! one of my horses is bouncy

Galadriel    Lothlorien, ME

7/13/2013 11:45:36 PM

Good tips. It also helps not to have a bouncy horse.

maria    high ride, MO

7/12/2013 4:17:44 PM

good article and true; i'm 55 and i try to ride my best everytime; my aqha mare after months of practice is slow and easy at the trot, but even then i find myself attempting to correct my seat; in fact, i rode bareback recently and my horse never moved better; hum, what changes when i'm in the saddle - more tips appreciated.

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