The next speed up from a walk is a trot, and the trot is the most difficult of all the horse's gaits for a beginner to feel comfortable with. The horse's trot, as far as speed is concerned, is relative to a jog. The trot is the most difficult to sit because it is the horse's most bouncy gait. In order to really explain how to ride a horse at a trot, I will have to break the trot down to two different types: The Slow, Collected Trot, and the Fast, Extended Trot.
While the slow trot is good for precise movements, the fast trot is better for covering country quickly without wearing out your horse. A cowboy will fast-trot his horse when he is riding fences or heading out a few miles to go work cattle; but once he is in the cutting pen, he will collect his horse and begin to work at the slow, collected trot.
1. The Slow, Collected Trot.
When a horse is travelling at a slow trot, he will be much less bouncy than he is at a faster trot. All you need to do to ride a horse at a slow trot is to simply relax and breathe, much like you would if the horse were at a walk. The slow trot is the perfect gait for working slower cattle and for teaching your horse to collect and flex in different ways. While the slow trot is easier to ride, it is also harder to tell your horse to do at first because the only way you can really communicate to your horse that you want him to collect his body and trot slowly is for you to be fairly precise with your leg, seat, and rein cues.
2. The Fast, Extended Trot.
Here on the trails between Zion and Bryce Canyon, the fast trot is going to be used a lot more often than the slow trot. This is because most of our riders here are fairly new to horses and are not yet ready to grasp the nuances of the collected trot, and also because when you are out on the trail, the fast trot is a lot more practical.
In order to ride a horse at a fast trot, you will need to "post." "Posting" is a method of riding a horse at a trot in such a manner as to stand up for one and a half beats, and sit down for a half beat. The manner of rising and sitting in proper rhythm saves you from getting bounced up and down in the saddle and getting beat up by it. Posting can take some people only a few minutes or even seconds to learn, and take others several hours to learn. However, it seems that once a horseback rider feels the proper rhythm even for a couple seconds, he will remember it for the rest of his life and from then on he will have little to no trouble posting at a trot.
I hope someday you will come visit us out here in Utah at Rising K Ranch and we can go out and trot the Zion/ Bryce Canyon country trails to your heart's content!