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This is a discussion on Heels!!!!! within the English Riding forums, part of the Riding Horses category
  • Exercises to deepen heels hrose
  • Horse heels

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    10-03-2009, 02:41 PM

I think this is the most frequently asked question and I have asked it time and time again, but have YET to find the answer that works for me: HOW DO I GET MY HEELS TO STAY DOWN while I'm riding?!?!?!

My instructor constantly told me that I look as if I'm doing swan lake on my tippy toes My calves are quite flexible and stretchy, it's just the moment that I mount and have to start applying aids the all the power goes into the aids instead of keeping my heels down.

Any advice please?
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    10-03-2009, 03:44 PM
Green Broke
No-Sturrips work always helps let your leg go down and around. Or you could shorten your sturrips some, which almost forces you to get your heels down so that your leg will remain stable.
    10-03-2009, 04:14 PM
Green Broke
Ride with no stirrups! It will FORCE you to keep your heels down, or you will fall off! I wouldn't shorten up your stirrups, that will only make you brace against them, and make you unstable/unbalanced.

My old trainer, when I rode english made kids cry if they didnt keep there heels down. That's how much she yelled at them for it. So its pretty much drilled into my head that if I don't keep my heels down I will get yelled at.
    10-03-2009, 04:31 PM
I find the biggest thing is relaxing your knee and thinking of wrapping your leg right around the horse and trying to make your heels touch under there belly.
Obviously make sure your stirrups are the right lenght as if they are too long you will be reaching for them, they should rest on your ankle bone when your leg is hanging down out of the stirrup in a relaxed position.
    10-04-2009, 05:19 AM
Thanks everyone...I should think the no-stirrup work will be effective since it's the most painful suggestion lol! Will give it a try and let you know
    10-04-2009, 07:11 AM
Heels Up or Down

Read the last 2 articles in "Training the horse the classical way" in Horse Training.
You'll see that a key factor is the way you sit in the saddle and the positioning of your legs.

Another factor is the tightness of your calf & ankle muscles - maybe you need to do some stretching exercises.

Another factor says that when you are in a stressed scenario you automatically press down on the balls of your feet instead of the heels. You have got to change the automatic reaction in your subconcious brain.

But is is for the instructor to explain all this - not me over the internet. Ask her why you are having a problem - make her earn her lesson fee!

Barry G
    10-04-2009, 11:00 AM
To be the oddball out, I don't think riding without stirrups is going to help... at all.

What got ME to get my heels down? I started jumping. If I didn't make it over the jump with my heels down, my landing was a mess, I ended up on her neck in the best case scenario, the ground in the worst. The horse I learned to jump on was really not a good teacher, she ran out on jumps, she refused them and then would over jump something fierce. But I tell you what, she taught me that my heels NEEDED to be down otherwise I just wouldn't be balanced enough to stay on for the ride. =]

Try trot poles or cavalettis in your two point. Let your horse go on a loose rein and focus on getting your heels down. Once you get it, you get it, and it'll never be a problem again, but just so you know, I don't think there's a rider in the world who didn't start out having trouble keeping their heels down. =]
    10-04-2009, 02:25 PM

I wrote a posting in English Riding asking Why Heels up or Down. It has provoked a number of responses.
The idea came to mind after seeing your original post.

After far too many years of riding I still have to push my heels down but now maybe I have an excuse not to bother - see MIEVENTERS post

Maybe some of the other responses might be of interest to you
    10-05-2009, 06:24 PM
Do you have stairs? Put the ball of your foot on the corner of the step and let you heal sink down stretching your calf... do this for like 15 seconds on each foot like 3-5 times and increase the time you hold it there for and how many times you do it ...
    10-05-2009, 08:31 PM
Think everytime your horse takes a step heels down heels down heels down. Keep your mind on it at first and then it will come naturaly

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