Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: southern Arizona
I'm a beginner myself, so take this with a bucket of sand...
Your toes should be as far forward as you can have them with a relaxed leg. It is OK to practice moving them more forward in hopes of stretching muscles, but a relaxed leg is more important that toes forward.
If your toes are more than 45 deg out, you probably have a leg position problem, and maybe a saddle fit problem. Try this: sitting in a chair, put your leg forward, foot forward & heel down. As you move your heel back under your hip, if your legs are like mine, either your heel will come up or your toes will go out.
I'd rather have toes out than toes down. Maybe with time, my legs will get more flexible and I'll have more options, but that is it for me right now.
Now, the stirrup leather should hang straight down. If it doesn't, you are fighting gravity. So if your saddle fits to put your heel under your hip, and if your legs are like mine, you will need to turn your toes out. I prefer a saddle that puts my heel under my belt buckle in a mild chair seat, which is enough that I can keep my heel down and use the side of my calf with toes about 30 deg out.
Also, it may be my imagination, but I feel like a long stirrup leather gives me more flexibility than a short one. Stand with your leg straight and toes up. Bring your foot up towards your hip. If you are like me, the higher your foot comes up, the more your heel comes up - unless you turn your toe out some.
I suggest working with someone to find the best combination of long leg / forward leg / toe out / heel down that fits your body, and allows a relaxed leg with the side of your calf available for cueing your horse.