Heels down

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Heels down

This is a discussion on Heels down within the English Riding forums, part of the Riding Horses category
  • Cant keep heels down at a canter
  • Can't keep heels down when Jumping

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    10-15-2009, 04:36 PM
Heels down

How in the world do people do it? I can't for the life of me keep my heels down, especially at the canter and it gets worse when you add a ground pole or jump to the mix. What can I do to help this? Any exercises I can do on the horse or at home to help me? Please don't tell me to "breathe and relax into your heels" If it were that easy then I would have a problem would I? There has to be something I can do to help.
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    10-15-2009, 04:58 PM
I stretch my feet up every chance I get. I stand around at work a lot so whenever I have nothing to do, I will put my foot up against a wall (toes pointing up) and lean onto it. Or just put my heel on the ground, toes up... and keep it like that for a bit. Also, doing calf stretches... or sitting on the ground and grabbing your feet and pulling them toward yourself (if you're not flexible enough to grab them.. get some rope or a towel or something and use that to pull them back. )

If you stretch out the muscles you use to get them in that weird position.. that may help.
    10-15-2009, 05:22 PM
^ Exactly! I don't think I can think of any others! That's what I did to learn how to put my heels down. Sometimes practising standing straight up in the saddle and holding it like that can teach you to steady your lower body and keep it that way. (this would hel with jumping.)
    10-15-2009, 06:06 PM
The only way I managed to do this when I was learning to ride was to trot and eventually canter around in the jockey/ jumping position. Bum completly out of the saddle, you will get used to it pretty soon as otherwise you will land on the floor
    10-15-2009, 06:22 PM
Lunge Lessons help. I had a similar problem in the saddle when I first started riding. Once they took away my saddle (For years!) I got a great seat...I wish I still had it. I started sinking my weight down into my heels because it helped me balance better. I was getting thrown forward during downward tranistions and found that if I let my weight sink through my leg and heel and let my heels "drag through the arena dirt" I stopped plopping off the side.

As far as stretches at home, I balance on stairs. I will stand on the stair with the ball of my foot on the ledge, and then squat. I have to stay balanced over my leg to not go tipping backward and forward. There are a few other exercises my instructor has had me do (More for elasticity than dropping my heel) but they are way too weird for me to try and explain on the internet. (Or other than showing you)
    10-15-2009, 06:34 PM
2 things:

1. Do you have stairs? If so put the ball of your foot on the corner of the stair and let your heal stretch down - count to 15 and switch to the other foot. Slowly increase your time of holding it.

2. Two point for LONG amounts of time .. like 3-4 times around the WHOLE ARENA :)
    10-15-2009, 06:54 PM
Thanks guys! I'll try all of those. Any other suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
    10-15-2009, 07:09 PM
Everyone else has offered good advice (: sorry this is a little harsh but, I don't think it's safe to be cantering or jumping or anything of the sort if you can't keep your heels down. .
    10-15-2009, 11:15 PM
^ Agreed.
    10-15-2009, 11:25 PM
Originally Posted by IheartPheobe    
everyone else has offered good advice (: sorry this is a little harsh but, I don't think it's safe to be cantering or jumping or anything of the sort if you can't keep your heels down. .
As per another thread about "why heels down?", except for training and "form" the heels down doesn't actually *do* anything otherwise we'd never be able to ride without stirrups and we do. The heels down simply encourages and helps to enforce a proper seat in the first place which is what is important. When I bareback, I haven't the first clue where my heels are, but I'll bet they aren't down.

For lesson purposes, you may be right, but in actual practice, I don't agree.

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