The posting trot is an integral part of any English riding discipline from Hunter/Jumper to Equitation to Hunter Under Saddle. When it’s done well, the posting trot looks fluid and easy as the riders’ graceful movement complements the long, floating strides beneath them.
Unfortunately, there are some posting trots that could use a lot of help. At their best, those riders who post the trot poorly are just distracting from the overall picture, but at their worst, they can throw off the horse’s cadence or balance and possibly impact the final placings.
Most riders know the guideline for proper equitation as some form of a line from heel to hip to shoulder. Beyond that basic rule, the AQHA rulebook provides general guidance on body position in equitation at all gaits. Specifically, while posting the trot, “The rider should close his/her hip angle to allow his/her torso to follow the horizontal motion of the horse. The upper body should be inclined about 20 degrees in front of the vertical.” The rulebook differentiates body position for the sitting trot, stating, “the upper body is only slightly in front of the vertical.”
In Hunt Seat Equitation classes, errors in the posting trot can be more than just ugly; they can be costly to the final score. While missing a diagonal in the pattern or on the rail just two strides or fewer results in a three-point penalty, missing a diagonal for more than two strides or obviously looking to check a diagonal yields a five-point penalty. Should a rider never perform the correct diagonal, they would be disqualified.