Developing a steady leg

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Developing a steady leg

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    08-17-2012, 07:07 PM
Developing a steady leg

Anyone have tips on developing a steadier leg? I got videos done at a show recently and was appalled at how much my legs were bouncing around It's worst during the posting trot- I caught myself getting up on my toes in the stirrups a number of times. Even my non-horsey husband asked if I was doing it right

I know part of it was my show boots/half chaps- they need to be broken in more, which makes it hard to flex my ankles- but I know the main reason is me.

I plan on working on posting trot without stirrups, but know there must be some more exercises out there.

Also, how much contact should you have with the lower leg? Am I correct in thinking that my leg should hang naturally against the horse's side when I'm not actively cuing?

I ride dressage, but figured I'd post this in the English section since I don't think it's a necessarily dressage-specific problem!
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    08-17-2012, 10:06 PM
I think the answer is different depending on whether it's for dressage or jumping. To get myself out of the habit of posting off my stirrups for dressage and using my thighs more, I learned to post without stirrups. To strengthen my lower leg for a quieter leg, I hike my stirrups up as high as they go and ride around like that. Very painful, but very useful.
    08-17-2012, 10:34 PM
Generally a bouncing lower leg is due to a gripping knee/thigh. This puts you in a precarious position - if your horse bucks you're already over the dash and it won't take much to put you on the ground.

I have found so far, that the most effective method of combating this is to practice standing in your stirrups. You physically cannot grip with your knee and thigh, and if your heels come up you'll wobble all over the place - thus dropping them down quick smart!
Start with riding in short stirrups, up in 2 point with your fists just in front of the horse's wither. You should be able to stay in this position, at walk, trot and canter. It hurts like buggery if you're not used to it, but I assure you that your position and stability in the saddle will improve out of sight.
When you have developed the muscle to hold this position, start dropping your stirrups down a few holes at a time, and bring your upper body upright. This will engage a whole new set of muscles and once again, will hurt like buggery and you'll probably keep tipping forward. It won't take long for your to learn exactly where to place your lower leg, to prevent you from tipping forward or backwards. Another bonus is that you'll be working your core - essential if you want to be a dressage rider.
Again, you should be able to hold this position, with a perfect ear-shoulder-hip-heel line, in walk, trot and canter.

By the time you have dropped your stirrups back to normal, and can get your backside into the saddle, you'll probably want to lower your stirrups a couple of holes again. Your lower leg will be so much more stable, you'll be clued into the importance of using your core to balance, not your legs, and you won't be gripping with your thigh and knee.
    08-18-2012, 04:08 AM
It has been a long time since I've done much riding in two point... It sounds like I may need to acquire some shorter stirrup leathers to really do this right, as mine are nearly as short as they go already; I think I have two holes left. (Short legs...)

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