Having Trouble Keeping Stirrups in Dressage - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 19 Old 06-03-2013, 10:45 AM Thread Starter
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Having Trouble Keeping Stirrups in Dressage

I've been doing dressage for a while now and have really been diving into it recently. A friend of mine who does dressage very well/ competitively has been helping me, and she doesn't understand this either.

I always have a very difficult time keeping the irons correctly placed on my foot in dressage. They either slip all the way back to my heel or slide completely off. They are regular weighted irons and I ride in a correctly fitted Passier Grand Gilbert Dressage Saddle. I have my stirrups at the correct length for dressage but I just don't understand why I can't keep them. It's gotten to be such a pain and annoyance that I either take the stirrups off altogether or ride in my jumping saddle! Which is definitely not the goal. What could be keeping me from holding them right? I know that riding without is good but I also should be able to ride with them.

Also, I come from a jumping background: I'm accustomed to extra short stirrups. I am thinking maybe it is that I am so used to jumping length stirrups. I notice that a lot when I do rising trot. In dressage, rising trot is a lot different than jumping, for me, even on the same horse.

Also the saddle is quite big for me, but that really shouldn't interfere this much? Just a possibility though. I also notice the knee rolls block my knee sometimes from helping me use my weight correctly; my legs feel extremely "free" and "weak" as the rest of my body is locked in (At least from what I know from jumping). But isn't that normal for a dressage saddle??? Also I normally use a 16in seat, and this saddle is a 17.5in. I'll try to get some pictures soon.

This is getting frustrating... :/

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post #2 of 19 Old 06-03-2013, 11:24 AM
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I have the same problem, and I think its because when I sit after posting, I tend to release all pressure, so the stirrup can wiggle. What I did after I got tired of it was move each stirrup up one hole. It made me a lot more aware of the irons, and I actually went a whole ride without losing one! I figure after a few rides I'll let them out again since I'm more aware of them, which was the problem.

Just put more weight in your feet, keep your weight centered, and it's okay if you need to shorten them, just make sure you remember to lengthen them.
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post #3 of 19 Old 06-03-2013, 12:01 PM
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you likely have the stirrup leathers too long. Many people think that to have a "long leg" you need to have the stirrups so long that you end up with your toe pointed downward. As a beginner to dressage, you should have them so that the angle behind your knee is about 95 degrees, just a tiny bit more open than a right angle. Get it? you can still have you leg back, UNDER you with a bend in your knee. this requires a more open hip angle.

That is one thing. The other is that if you are gripping with your knee or calf, then you are more likely to loose your stirrup.

would you be interested in posting a video of yourself riding?
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post #4 of 19 Old 06-04-2013, 03:36 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you guys! I'm going to try shortening them, I think that will really help. I was just always told to have a really long stirrup! They are extremely long... Especially from switching from jumping to dressage. I can try to get a video tonight :)

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post #5 of 19 Old 06-04-2013, 11:15 PM
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I would guess that your stirrups are too long for the time being. With experience and work you seat will improve and your leg will lengthen. Lost stirrups will happen- it still happens to me, but I have noticed that it happens more frequently when I'm in an incorrect position. Start by lengthening your stirrups a couple of holes from your jumping position, and get used to that length. If you are used to short stirrups it will be a process of lengthening your stirrups every once in awhile as your leg lengthens. It's not something that can necessarily be done in one sitting!

Also, how much too big is your saddle? I'm not one to bash you if your saddle does not fit absolutely perfectly in the seat, but a properly fitted saddle needs to suit both horse and rider! But no, I do not necessarily think that your issues are derived from the seat size of yoru saddle.
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post #6 of 19 Old 06-05-2013, 09:58 AM
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Having your leg go from a jumping position to riding dressage is a big difference. You have to train your leg to stretch down. As mentioned, raise your stirrups to a point where you feel comfortable and think "stretch down the back of my leg through my heel" when riding. You will also need to work on securing your seat, disengaging your hips, and really keeping your butt in the saddle to allow your legs to stretch down properly.

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post #7 of 19 Old 06-09-2013, 06:59 PM
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I have this problem too and agree with the advice given, but just wanted to add when you are thinking of stretching the back of your leg and heel down also think of stretching the front of your thigh and opening your hips. That was what I was told by my instructor and it works great! :)
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post #8 of 19 Old 06-11-2013, 03:17 PM
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Your stirrups may well be too long, but the main cause may be your lack of a strong core and thus your legs and they way they drape the horse and how you use them.

In H/J Land, all the angles of the body are more extreme - hip, knee, ankle. The legs must support your body over fences, therefore your base of support must be solidly stable in order to easily adjust your seat and upper body. This of necessity creates a shorter, stiffer, more angulated leg with the classic heels down-toes slightly out leg position.

In dressage, the goal is to have a strong and supple core (aka a good seat) with a softly draped leg (think wet linguini) whose muscles are long and supple--exact opposite of hunt seat. You must work on opening your hip angles to allow the active and passive use of those inner thigh muscles and inner calf muscles. A visual of a correct dressage leg should show the kneecaps pointed straight ahead versus East and West, and toes should do the same.

Try this exercise when you first mount, and take frequent breaks to do it at halt and walk, even trot! At halt drop stirrups. Take your leg completely off the horse and raise and swing it towards the rear of the horse. Then allow your leg to drop softly to the horse's side.

Now with your hand, grab your quadriceps muscle-the long muscle running down the back of your thigh- and pull it AWAY from the saddle-think of grabbing your inner thigh. Allow the soft adjusted leg to fall softly against the saddle.You'll find that this has rotated your kneecaps to face forward-toes also.

Concentrate on keeping this tension-free leg (you'll feel it in your hip area) where it lays while repeating the exercise with your other leg. As you do this, keep rolling your ankles in circles, to keep your ankle and lower leg muscles tension-free.

If you have the H/J ankle cock, try working your ankles exactly the opposite of what is necessary for H/J. Think bow-legged; stretch the outer ankle muscles and bring toes in versus stretching inner ankle muscles and cocking toes out. Picture touching your horse's side with the inside of your foot, including your Big Toe Another visual is to imagine 10 pound bags of sand hanging from your ankles-to keep that long leg.

It always starts with your hips-get them looser by doing the exercises. Moving down the leg, roll the thigh to position your knees facing forward. Then roll your ankles to loosen and picture touching your horse's body with your big toe.

This is all contingent on you working to strengthen and stabilize your core, which is "the core" of a good dressage seat. Lunge lessons will help all of this immensely...but that's a whole 'nuther subject

GOOD LUCK! I hope this helps!
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post #9 of 19 Old 06-11-2013, 03:25 PM
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Excellent post, weezilla!
I want to add that riding frequently without stirrups cures so many riding faults. Also, posting without stirrups improves your balance and your seat.
I ride with my stirrups one hole longer than anybody I know with the same leg length, and I've worked at it mostly without stirrups, always, of course, on a horse that I trust.

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post #10 of 19 Old 06-11-2013, 04:29 PM
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I know I should ride without stirrups, but I will admit to being a wussy about that. Too skeered to fall off!
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