Toes in or out?

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Toes in or out?

This is a discussion on Toes in or out? within the Dressage forums, part of the English Riding category
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    01-23-2013, 07:34 PM
Toes in or out?

I rode in a USEA ICP clinic earlier this week. All I heard was "toes out" for all three lessons I was a demo rider in. I know toes out is a more acceptable position (textbook wise) than my position, but my trainer is really into body mechanics, so toes in makes sense to me. When I think about it, toes in is a much more secure position with more leg contact on the horse. Toes out takes your inner thigh, knee and inner calf off the horse. It is also a bracing position that will cause more concussion in my joints as well as the horse's (the energy won't flow in a full circle). I have more flexibility in my joints with toes in as well as being more relaxed. I posted a picture showing my leg position. Please excuse the saddle. It was the first and last time I've ridden it it as it was way too small for both of us. Also, this was several months ago and I have now lowered my stirrups to get my heel down and a longer calf. (I'm an eventer, but this was a dressage question and I train with a dressage instructor, so I thought this category would be most helpful) So opinions on position of the toe/ankle/foot?

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    01-23-2013, 07:45 PM
In a Dressage saddle, your toes shoulder be pointing forwards, or VERY slightly outwards. You don't want your knees and thighs gripping against the saddle, but you also don't want them flapping around doing nothing. This is why the toes pointing forwards in considered the correct position. It gives the best flow of weight down the back of the leg into the heel, allows the rider to have much more feel through their seat as there is no bracing of the leg, the rider can give a clear leg aid with the lower leg, and can control a spur. If the toe is pointed out, the rider should not wear spurs as this will engage the spur continuously.

Are you sure the clinician wanted toes to be sticking out just 'because', or was it in context with an exercise or a bad habit they were working with?
    01-23-2013, 08:30 PM
I asked my trainer who was watching the people who were getting certified, teach me. She said that they were learning from a book and since they were eventers just teaching a dressage lesson, that toes out was more acceptable. And that they were learning the textbook perfect way. I don't think they wanted me to look like a duck, but they wanted my toes out and to relax my ankle. To me this makes no sense because if my toes are out then my ankle is not able to relax... I don't know- every one has their own style and opinions so I thought I'd just ask and see what others thought.

They were also completely against an indrect rein or using the reins like you would with the start of the pirouette where the whole upper body almost pushes the shoulders around. My mare loves to pop her outside shoulder and the indirect rein has been really helpful in getting her to stop. We are slowly being able to transition from the indirect rein to just leg aids though.

They didn't know my horse or where we started or her habits and quirks, so I can't expect them to teach exactly the same way my trainer does. I was just shocked hearing "toes out". About 4 years ago I transitioned from hunters to eventing and boy was the position different. I spent several months turning my toes in so I was just surprised hearing toes out from eventers.
    01-23-2013, 08:40 PM
Toes out would be more acceptable if they were teaching you in a jumping saddle as it can assist with balance in 2 point.
But Dressage, no. If they're eventers, I wonder if they're focussed on their jumping and Dressage is just 'that boring first part'.

So, regarding rein use - were they wanting you to pull the horse around with the inside rein? Because that's a great way to put too much bend in the neck, drop the outside shoulder and spin the haunches out to the side. Basically useless.
I'd take their instruction with a truck load of salt.
    01-23-2013, 08:48 PM
Untill a couple months ago, I was that eventer who just skipped the boring dressage, but I've really been getting into it now with body mechanics and it turned out to be fun :) They were trying to get me to use my outside leg to turn around the circle, which in theory should work. My mare- either because she's stubborn or still learning- doesn't respond as much as she should to the outside leg, so I use a little indirect rein on the outside to help sometimes. They weren't too happy with that. Nothing with horses is ever black or white- there will always be an exception or "only sometimes". They were teaching very definitively and if they had been working with me and my mare for a while, I have the feeling that they'd be a little more flexible in their methods. The only thing I'm taking away from this experience is more flexible ankles and a longer, lower frame for my mare (at least whlie she's learning). Everything else can be forgotten :)
    01-23-2013, 09:16 PM
Agreeing with kayty.

I would be interested in what body of knowledge they are using to teach from (Denny's book/Cavalry Manual/complilation). Where is about common sense/teaching for purpose?

Let's talk about general alignment, and then what happens when the feet torque. First there is ear/shoulder/hip/heel in alignment and upper arm as part of trunk. With the longer leg (riding on the flat)and having the foot more parallel, heel lowered, it is then possible to open the hip more and have elasticity in all three joints; and that means the entire leg will 'adheed' better to the horse, making sitting easier. Over fences, the rider is more in a 'light seat' (slightly ifv) because the horse is moving at speed, the center of gravity is further forward. To allow this, the stirrups are shorter, there is a sort of tripod created by the leg to allow the rider to be in two point/balance position, the thigh/calf is more secure with a little less of the spine of the boot being on the horse. But, it is not turning the toes out per se, but allowing more security in the leg (NOT pinching). The rider should still 'feather' into the heel but never pushed them forward to do so. To find the 'right place' in proper two point, just have the rider put the lower leg too far back (they will fall forward), and then too far forward (they will fall back), then find the middle point.

As far as where the leg is: the inside leg is closer to the girth (sometimes pulsing actively) and the outside is stretched back and down from hip to heel (passively...NOT actively).

Are the five rein effects really not being taught??? I wonder why not? Is the suggestion 'just' a direct/opening/leading rein? Or is it a direct rein of opposition? Without an indirect rein influence the horse cannot really ever be ridden inside leg to outside rein. And it is an indirect rein which allows for a quick land/turn.

Longer/lower/chewing the reins from the hand/aka stretching is a test of the connection from leg to hand.
    01-23-2013, 09:29 PM
From what I heard of their lectures they were learning a little bit of George Morris a little bit of the German Training Scale, some from a german show jumper and dressage rider (can't remember his name) and reading excerpts from a book written by a guy from the Spanish Riding School. I have the print out of their power point in my locker at the barn and I'll get it tomorrow when I go. Seems like a big mix of ideas to me...

I'm just starting to really get into dressage, and I didn't even know that "a half halt towards the belly button" was called an indirect rein untill this clinic. I'm not sure what you mean by a direct rein of opposition. From what I understood, they were saying that an indirect rein was doing the job of the outside leg, but not properly engaging the hind while doing so. I'm really working on stretching with my mare (who likes to impersonate a giraffe sometimes) so we can get a better topline.
    01-23-2013, 09:38 PM
Certain a (bilateral) hh is not a backwards action, the horse meets the hand (or it is perhaps raised momentarily). (And there are bilateral/diagonal and lateral hh). Sounds like sort of a mishmash. And, no an indirect rein does not take the place of the outside leg. Hopefully the srs guy is Podhajsky (or Kottas).

The rein effects (that were part of the cavalry written by one of GM's teachers), part of pony club, and traditional flat training of a greenie: Glenshee Equestrian Centre: The Five Rein Aids: Introduction
Kayty likes this.
    01-23-2013, 09:48 PM
That is just what I heard from the snippets of their lectures before the teaching began. At the barn, we agreed not to host this clinic again because a lot of what they were teaching just did not make sense. And thanks for the link :) My mare tends to act offened by the whip sometimes (although that's getting better). Also whenever something is scary or new or distracting, she puts her head up. Usually its just for a few steps, but sometimes she gets really tense. She is only 4, so we really want to develop her muscle. She can be connected and be nice in a shorter frame, but she has an awesome trot with tons of suspension that you can really see in a longer frame. Also, it's nice to push her beyond what she would normally do to really get her thinking and focused.
    01-23-2013, 09:51 PM
(Sounds like a good idea from what was said....LOL) If the horse tends to hollow/lifts to high, then use a proper hh (a little higher), this will do two things: encourage her to chew and to then seek the hand rather than withdraw.

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