Errrgghh...swinging lower leg - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 7 Old 07-03-2012, 03:11 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: Northern Ontario
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Angry Errrgghh...swinging lower leg

I'm getting so frustrated with my lower leg & heel. I've never had an issue with this until I purchased my ottb mare. She's got such a petite frame and small barrel, so I feel like that might have something to do with it. I'm always struggling to keep my lower leg still and my heels down, it's almost distracting because I think about it so much. I find I struggle the most at the trot, posting especially.

Now, I don't have this problem on my paint cross mare. She's a little on the hefty side, and I can w/t/c in hunt seat balanced solely on my lower leg and core muscles. On my ottb, I feel very unbalanced and tip quite a bit.

I just poked more holes in my stirrup leathers to see if a shorter stirrup will help, but it decided to downpour all day so I haven't had a chance to try it out.

I'd really appreciate some advice on how to correct this, or some exercises to strengthen my lower leg and improve my balance.
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post #2 of 7 Old 07-03-2012, 03:16 PM
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: The Bluegrass State
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*Warning, this is going to be long ... was on the other thread :p*

First off, don't uses your stirrups as crutches. You should be able to drop both stirrups and still have a solid leg. So don't shorten them if your trainer says you don't need to. It's never, ever, ever a stirrup problem ;)

Well, lower leg is pretty hard to get still. But when you do get there, I must admit, it helps you heaps in all levels - flat classes, jumping classes ... you just overall get a much more neat and good picture. It is a sought after goal, though, though I do have some suggestions.
Heels down, toes up, really just comes with practice. Practice, practice, practice. Practice without your horse, even - sitting on the couch, playing on HF - keep your heels down. Working in the office - keep your heels down.
Standing in line - see if you can stand on your heels. Just practice, and you'll get there :) You won't even have to think about it, eventually.

Okay - as for lower leg. First off, you need to get your horse used to you gripping with your lower leg, (NOT knee! More on that later!) because that will not only make him more broke, but be your only way to really still that leg. So, during rides, 'hug' him with your leg. Don't have any intention to speed him up. Just hold your leg against his side. If he gets mad, and tries to speed up *at all* stop and back him. Stop, back three steps, then make him stand for 10 seconds. Never take your leg off. Then cue him to move off. There should be a diffirence. If you don't feel the diffirence in holding and squeezing your leg, you are holding too tight.

One that is taken care of, make sure you are moving with your horse well. The fact that you were stiff before might make this more of a challenge for you, but it will feel so much better once you get the hang of it. Rock your hips with the motion of your pony, just like you were on a rocking horse. When walking, try feeling which leg he reaches forward with without looking down. Just think to yourself, "left, right, left, right." This will require you to move with your hips, or you won't feel it.

If you are moving fluently with your horse, and holding with your legs, it's time to up the antee. Working out. Go to the gym, and do all the leg excersizes, taking breaks in between, doing something to work your core/abs. Both of these things will REALLY help your posture! For example, do the leg lifts, then do sit ups. Then do a different leg excersize, then a diff. Core excersize. This is called super setting, and is the fastest way to build muscle.
When you can't make it to the gym, excersize at home! Every gym-less night, do 100 sit-ups and 100 leg-lifts. You will be well on your way to perfection!

Remember, horseback riding is a sport. It takes conditioning, and it takes work. I'm sure you've figured that out by now ;)
Best of luck! :)

~ When I Die, Remember Me By My Horses ~
* Because They Are Responsible *
.: For Letting Me Live :. (c) xJumperx

Last edited by xJumperx; 07-03-2012 at 03:20 PM.
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post #3 of 7 Old 07-03-2012, 09:36 PM
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Missouri
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Do your entire warmup and cool down in 2 point. Get depth in your legs by stretching them down and stay balanced over your horse. hold the reins in one hand and put the other on your side. Switch hands.

You can't rely on the saddle of the reins for balance, so do some core exercises at home and you'll be surprised how that affects your legs even.

Instead of thinking heels down, think "I'm going to stretch my leg down and just rest my toe on the stirrup bar"

You post from your thighs because the horse's momentum at the trot pushed you up, and then gravity brings you back down.

Being on the lungeline and having a coach lunge you at the trot is beneficial. So is riding without stirrups but be careful with that.

"Strength is the ability to use a muscle without tension"
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post #4 of 7 Old 07-04-2012, 07:19 AM
Join Date: May 2012
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do you have any pictures or videos? they can be most helpful in diagnosing problems such as this so people can see what is defitinetly going on!!
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post #5 of 7 Old 07-04-2012, 08:59 PM
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Location: Connecticut
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Yeah, TB's aren't the best for wrapping your legs around them. I actually had more success with longer stirrup instead of less since it gave me more leg "surface area" to contact my horse's sides. I only have one horse, so I actually switched to a bulkier saddle to give me more to hang onto.

As for strengthening the leg, hike your stirrups up as far as they will go and ride around like that for awhile, W/T/C and half seat all of them as well. Your thighs will burn like crazy, but it gives you a good solid leg very quickly.

You just have to see your don't have to like it.
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post #6 of 7 Old 07-06-2012, 05:31 PM
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Jacksonville, FL
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I have had the same issue! The second I ask for the trot, boom, my leg swings forward. One of the exercises my trainer has me do is this: get your position correct in your saddle, heels down, leg back. At the walk, stand and balance. If your leg is too far forward, you can't do it. If your shoulders are too far forward, you can't do it. Leg back. shoulders back, belly pooched out a bit. Now, once you are balanced and can ride at the walk that way - feel your leg - if your weight is in your heel, you will notice that most of your weight is off your feet and you are actually holding with your calf. Not only does this help with your leg, but it helps with balance too.

Now sit - don't move anything except sitting in your saddle. Everything else stays the same. Ask for the trot and swing your hips, squeeze with the leg on the down.

Repeat as necessary.
justashowmom is offline  
post #7 of 7 Old 07-07-2012, 11:22 PM
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Pennsylvania
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1) lengthen stirrups to hit right at your ankle bone or very slightly below
2) stand in stirrups without supporting on your horse
3) look down at your lower leg (this is the correct positioning of your lower leg)
4l sit down and focus on keeping your lower leg in the "correct" position
5) continue riding as usual focusing on your lower leg placement and your legs won't swing as much
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