Find your dressage leg!

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Find your dressage leg!

This is a discussion on Find your dressage leg! within the Dressage forums, part of the English Riding category

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    07-27-2010, 03:18 PM
Question Find your dressage leg!

Hello all!

My horse is a hanovarian x trekener, 16.3, and is a tank! He is as sweet as could be, but, like all big horses, it's hard to direct his movements. We are both relativly new to dressage. He both began in the jumping field, so we are learning together and are progressing relativly well. Although, I have found a problem in my riding that I can't seem to figure out!

He's such a wide horse, I really don't know how to position my legs correctly! I start out with my legs stretched down, but the moment I need to ask for a bend ( or anything that needs leg pressure ) my legs scrunch up. I can't seem to unlock my hips to move freely.

So, my question is : are there any excersises either while riding or on the ground, that will help you loosen you're hips? Are there any excersises that help you develope the correct dressage leg while on a larger horse?

Any help would be greatly appreciated!
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    07-27-2010, 06:01 PM
To open your hip angle, try thinking more about kneeling in the saddle than sitting in it. While at the walk, drop your stirrups. First make sure your sitting in a neutral torso position. You should be tilted forward or back when looking in a mirror. Next, make sure the inside of your thigh is against the saddle. Take your hand and push any extra thigh meat (for lack of a better word) back and out of the way so your inner thigh is whats touching the saddle. Now move down and let your knees drop toward the ground. This should also bring your feet back a bit and line them up under your shoulders. Final step, engage your core muscles and play with it. Use them in connection with your horse's walk to help keep your position. Finally, check where your stirrups are before picking them back up. Chances are you'll find you need to lower them. Once it all starts working, you'll find things start to loosen up. For now lots of BenGay will help! Good luck.
    07-29-2010, 12:58 PM
Common problem.

While sitting on horse walking to warm up take BOTH legs (starting at top of thigh) off the horse at the same time - straight out. Will probably give you leg cramps but will open up hips and allow you to sit deeply. If you're a runner you'll have tighter hips and problem is worse but this exercise will help.

Jumper riders tend to turn toes out. Dressage riders must have toes straight ahead so they use the inside of their lower leg (NOT thigh) to help horse bend and move forward. For years I though of riding "toes in" and that made my toes point straight ahead. Be careful you don't think heels down that that stiffen your leg and makes things worse. Think more toes up and knee down to elongate the leg.

And to get horse to bend around the leg think of using more of your high versus using the leg. Using the hip to get the bend helps prevent leg from scrunching up and helps lock entire leg together - making it harder for horse to ignore and/or move the leg out of their rider can get barrel of horse bending around the leg.

dressage, leg, position

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