Getting & keeping those long legs and muscles
   

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Getting & keeping those long legs and muscles

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    12-05-2012, 07:16 AM
  #1
Weanling
Getting & keeping those long legs and muscles

Good morning... Where I live at least.
In June, I had to stop leasing a slower dressage horse because of some stuff happening at the barn. I then moved to a very speedy pony that I have been riding for five months. I stopped leasing him because the forty minute drive was a little too long, especially when I was only able to go ride him two times a week. Since then, I went to look at one dead headed gelding ( it was like riding an unemotional cinder block) and the trainer of the horse was very nice, and she seemed very helpful as to finding me a good lease match.
I had a lesson on a very slow tb on Sunday, and we barely moved. My calves were too weak to hold him up (you know how you wrap your legs around the horse's tummy and lift) so she decided that we couldn't canter. She then dropped my stirrups down one hole... And my legs couldn't reach and stay that far down.
I knew that I had problems with long legs when I was riding my old mare who needed a lot of leg, I had to jack my stirrups up because I couldn't keep my legs that long. Her trot was super bouncy so that didn't help. So when I moved to the pony I kept them at that short length because I'm pretty big for him. Only now did I realize that would create a problem.
So yesterday when I rode my boss' gelding (very advanced horse... Usually I only walk around with him because if someone's in the arena with us he decides to go faster... And he's very bit sensitive so you can't really tell him to stop.) and I put my stirrups all the down and walked like that for an hour... Would that help for longer legs?
So basically, I was hoping for some exercises that would give me stronger calves and longer legs. Especially ones that don't need to be done faster than at a walk (the walk only gelding is the only horse I can practice on) or be done without a horse. Sorry for the rambling!
     
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    12-05-2012, 04:23 PM
  #2
Foal
I have a few non-riding exercises I have been doing... And you will feel the burn. They are mostly for balance, leg muscle strengthening, and extending your heels.

The first one incorporates a proper lining of your heal, hip, and shoulder. Stand with your legs apart, wider than your shoulder but not super wide, make sure hips are lined up with your heels, then your shoulders to your hip (and heel), you will know if you are in the correct position because you will feel your weight shift down to your butt and legs, but if you have the feel for it shift it to your legs. Now rock your hips up and down and side to side. Within one minute your should feel a good burn in your thighs and some in your calves.

The second is stand with your feet slightly apart, standing straight with your hip and and shoulder aligned. Now slowly lean forward, keeping your back straight ( shoulder to hip) and lift your left leg back and up, slowly, while keeping your left heel down. Lift your leg back and up as high as you can go while maintaining your balance and a correct position. Then slowly lower your leg back down and then move it up in front of you. When lifting in front, keep your heel down and your leg as straight as possible while in front of you. Repeat with your right leg.

The third exercise, stand positioned the same as the second exercise, hips and shoulder straight, now extend your left leg forward keeping your heel down and toes up as possible, with your left leg extended forward, rotate it left and right four times, then return your leg back to where it would be in your standing position, but do not stand, keeping your heel down, move your leg from under you and out to the left four times. Then extend your leg back behind you, keeping your heel down move your leg left and right four times. Repeat with your right leg.

Hopefully, these will help you as much as they have helped me.
I'm sorry in advance if it comes out confusing.
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    12-05-2012, 04:25 PM
  #3
Foal
Also forgot to add, while the second exercise is great for balance it also great for your lower back
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    12-05-2012, 06:18 PM
  #4
Yearling
I don't really know of any ways to make your leg longer...for strengthening you can do stirrupless trotting and stuff if you are comfortable with it.

I've never heard of "lifting" the horse in the way you describe. In H/J we sort of gently clutched the horse with our thighs and used our calves to encourage movement. In dressage you pretty much allow your legs to be limp towels (while maintaining proper seat) and don't touch the horse with them as much as possible...at least how I'm learning anyway.
     
    12-06-2012, 11:24 AM
  #5
Trained
A "very advanced" horse that doesn't stop and "lifting" the horse with your legs?? Two very strange dressage concepts, neither of which I've heard of.

If you want to get your leg long then take it off the horse and make it long. There is not really too much rocket science to it. If your heel is creeping up, it's because you're gripping with your leg. Take the leg off the horse, it's also helpful to lift the thigh off the horse and reposition the flesh out behind it, and put your heels down. You don't need shear strength to ride dressage, you need balance. Especially not calf strength for that matter.

I think it would be worth it for you to pick up "Centered Riding" by Sally Swift and maybe go audit a dressage clinic in your area. Good luck!
     
    12-06-2012, 12:02 PM
  #6
Weanling
Quote:
Originally Posted by ~*~anebel~*~    
A "very advanced" horse that doesn't stop and "lifting" the horse with your legs?? Two very strange dressage concepts, neither of which I've heard of.

If you want to get your leg long then take it off the horse and make it long. There is not really too much rocket science to it. If your heel is creeping up, it's because you're gripping with your leg. Take the leg off the horse, it's also helpful to lift the thigh off the horse and reposition the flesh out behind it, and put your heels down. You don't need shear strength to ride dressage, you need balance. Especially not calf strength for that matter.

I think it would be worth it for you to pick up "Centered Riding" by Sally Swift and maybe go audit a dressage clinic in your area. Good luck!
The advances horse is at my hunter jumper barn. He was abused (with overly strong bits) and being the flighty thoroughbred he is, you have to be gentle with you. By advanced I didn't mean he was advanced, I meant that you needed to be an experienced enough rider to be able to convey what you want with body language since you can't touch his mouth without him being fussy. I am sorry for the confusion.
I understand what you mean by loosening your leg so it can drop, but when you are riding a horse that needs an incredible amount of leg, how would I be able to ride loose because I am squeezing him up into the bridle.
I am kind of confused as to why you've never heard of wrapping your legs around a horse and squeezing them up and therefor pushing them into the bridle. Out of four trainers (one being a Rolex competitor, they've all trained in this style.
Thanks for the advice. I am replying on my phone so sorry for grammar errors.
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    12-06-2012, 12:07 PM
  #7
Trained
If the horse needs that much leg it was trained wrong. A dressage horse needs only a light amount of leg.
This is the dressage section.

You do not squeeze to the bridle, you ride to the bridle. If you constantly have all your leg on the horse it becomes like the girth and the horse ignores it.
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Corporal and waresbear like this.
     
    12-06-2012, 12:10 PM
  #8
Weanling
I honestly find your opinion fascinating. Literally all the trainers I've had say you squeeze up/into the bridle and if a horse is too slow they just add more leg... Interesting.
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    12-06-2012, 12:15 PM
  #9
Trained
You don't need a Dressage horse to help you learn to lengthen your leg. I ride with my stirrups one hole longer than my DD, who is the same height as me, and built the same (short-waisted, long-legged.) I sit the trot at every opportunity, and I taught myself to relax each stride (or bounce) without losing contact. My heels drop down with every stride, and I maintain my stirrups. Best learned on an experienced horse of ANY breed, that will help you to relax bc you know he/she won't bolt or buck or shy.
While you look for another prospect, search for a horse that you can TRUST and just work on sitting the trot.
Further, I see no reason (when you get your new horse) to tolerate a horse that ignores my leg. ANY horse that doesn't listen to your leg will stop listening completely if something frightens him, and THAT is dangerous. The explosion comes next, and I've have that happen to me, too.
ALWAYS impulsion forward, and obedience to your aids. My horses know that I ask for it with my calf, or demand it the 2nd time with my (Prince of Wales) spur. Please understand that this doesn't apply to new skills, but it DOES apply to learned material. I trained bombproof, babysitter horses this way, but they were also light.
     
    12-06-2012, 03:58 PM
  #10
Trained
Quote:
Originally Posted by goingnowhere1    
I honestly find your opinion fascinating. Literally all the trainers I've had say you squeeze up/into the bridle and if a horse is too slow they just add more leg... Interesting.
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That's why I'm suggesting you to buy a functional dressage equitation book ("Centered Riding" by Sally Swift) and go audit some dressage clinics with some big-ish names. Because all the trainers you've had are actually wrong.

An aid is only an aid for the instant it is applied. If you leave it on for longer, that's just nagging the horse, and bad riding.
     

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