Recognizing when you are not on the right diagonal can be tricky when you first learn to ride. Understanding how and why to ride diagonals at the trot can be very confusing. There’s a lot to remember as you try to lift out of the saddle, keep you legs steady and your hands still. Try to remember that you will be rising out of the saddle as the outside front leg is reaching forward. Lower your eyes and use your peripheral vision to check the motion of the outside shoulder.
Don’t look down by tipping your head as this will put you off balance. You will learn to feel when the outside shoulder is forward. Try listening for the footfalls too. Eventually you will develop a feel for the stride pattern of your horse and posting on the correct diagonal will come naturally.
Some horses chronically throw you off the right diagonal. This means they could use some training to learn to travel straighter, and may even need some chiropractic help. On these horses, you may find you’ll need to check your diagonal more often as you can slip onto the wrong diagonal without noticing.
A helpful way to remember what leg you should be posting on is to repeat to yourself 'rise and fall with the leg on the wall'. The leg you will be rising with is the front leg, the one on the wall or fence side of the ring or arena.
With practice, getting the right diagonal will become easier, and more automatic. So don’t be discouraged if you often hear your instructor say ‘wrong diagonal’.
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