Reason for performing study: During trot, the rider can either rise from the saddle during every stride or remain seated. Rising trot is used frequently because it is widely assumed that it decreases the loading of the equine back. This has, however, not been demonstrated in an objective study.
Objective: To determine the effects of rising and sitting trot on the movements of the horse.
Hypothesis: Sitting trot has more extending effect on the horse's back than rising trot and also results in a higher head and neck position.
Methods: Twelve horses and one rider were used. Kinematic data were captured at trot during over ground locomotion under 3 conditions: unloaded, rising trot and sitting trot. Back movements were calculated using a previously described method with a correction for trunk position. Headneck position was expressed as extension and flexion of C1, C3 and C6, and vertical displacement of C1 and the bit.
Results: Sitting trot had an overall extending effect on the back of horses when compared to the unloaded situation. In rising trot: the maximal flexion of the back was similar to the unloaded situation, while the maximal extension was similar to sitting trot; lateral bending of the back was larger than during the unloaded situation and sitting trot; and the horses held their heads lower than in the other conditions. The angle of C6 was more flexed in rising than in sitting trot.
Conclusions and clinical relevance: The back movement during rising trot showed characteristics of both sitting trot and the unloaded condition. As the same maximal extension of the back is reached during rising and sitting trot, there is no reason to believe that rising trot was less challenging for the back.