Stirrups bouncing around while posting - The Horse Forum

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post #1 of 7 Old 07-28-2012, 01:29 AM Thread Starter
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Stirrups bouncing around while posting

After no riding all school year, I am getting as much horse time as possible this summer. I have only been riding for about a month now since I took a summer class in June.

I take hunt seat lessons (taking formal lessons for the first time in several years), and I also trail ride with a lady who does endurance.

My major problem during lessons is leg position. My hips and ankles are not flexible, so I tended to adopt the classic chair seat. Some stretching and a detail-oriented instructor seems to have corrected this problem. At my last lesson a bit of two point at the trot got my leg into the right place and I had no problems with my legs or stirrups after that.

However, when I trail ride I ride in a dressage-type Wintec with longer stirrups. I have a bad ankle that starts killing me after an hour or so in stirrups of any length, so shortening the stirrups more isn't an option. We go on very long rides, sometimes three hours plus.

My issue is that when I ride with longer stirrups, I have a terrible time keeping my stirrups at a posting trot. I feel like I can't keep my heel down far enough to put weight in my feet. After a while I just sort of stop using my stirrups much at all, and they swing around between my heel and toe. Although I don't usually lose them completely, I feel like I could drop them both and wouldn't feel much of a difference. It doens't make me feel unbalanced but it's annoying and I can feel that my leg is moving around too much, and I start coming down a bit hard on his back.

Part of the problem is that the horse I ride is Big and fast (was a 4th level dressage horse in his previous career...now likes to race down the trail ). Also I'm still not in super good shape, having only been riding for a month after a year off, so my legs get somewhat fatigued on our long rides. The stirrups tend to get progressively worse throughout the rides. But are there any thoughts on something specific that might be causing the issue? Is there something I can work on or do I just have to keep riding and it will resolve itself as I get in better shape? I've considered just trotting him in a half seat to keep my weight in the stirrups, but I'm not in good enough shape to hold that for the amount of trotting we do sometimes. Let me know if you have any thoughts...
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post #2 of 7 Old 07-28-2012, 07:52 AM
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I want to say that you aren't ready to have your stirrups at "dressage" length. Work toward it - ride at a length you feel comfortable with, and let them down bit by bit as you get more accustomed to the length. It sounds like you are gripping too much with your knees and/or thighs, causing your feet to come up.

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post #3 of 7 Old 07-28-2012, 08:14 AM
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Have you consideted jointed stirrups, as opposed to regular hard irons?

I have hip, knee, and ankle issues due to a few spectacular riding wrecks over the years, plus just regular aging woes.

Before I bought jointed, I could only ride for about an hour due to the pain from using hard irons. Now that I have jointed, I can ride for hours with little problems.

I tried the different stirrup lengths too, but nothing really helped until I went to jointed stirrups.

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post #4 of 7 Old 07-28-2012, 06:37 PM Thread Starter
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Chiilaa, I don't ride at dressage length, they're as short as I can put them without making my knees and ankles very uncomfortable, somewhere in between hunt seat and dressage length. Next time I ride I'll have to pay more attention to whether I'm gripping...if I am it would be a problem unique to when I ride with longer stirrups because my instructor would notice if I did it in a lesson.

Speed racer, thanks for the suggestion. I'm using her tack when I ride, but I'll definitely look into jointed stirrups if/when I get my own tack

Last edited by flyonby; 07-28-2012 at 06:42 PM.
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post #5 of 7 Old 07-28-2012, 06:50 PM
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You can always buy an inexpensive pair now, and ask your instructor if you can use them during your lessons. It takes all of 30 seconds to change out irons.

I'd not advise buying an expensive set, since you won't know until you try them if they work for you.

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post #6 of 7 Old 07-28-2012, 06:59 PM
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To me it sounds like you are bracing in your ankle, possibly pinching with your knees as well.

My ankles only hurt (I have issues haha) when I find myself pressing too hard into the stirrup or bracing in my ankle when I'm trying to engage my calf muscles.

Your legs need to be able to hang, so there could be some pinching in your knees preventing you from letting those legs just "be"

Without pictures I really can't give you anything more specific :/
But have you tried riding in another saddle? Sometimes a combination of the tree + stirrup length + stirrups can be disasterous. What I mean is I used to ride in an Aussie, and a Wintec all purpose, and a jump saddle. And they all affected my body in different ways. Aussie put me in a chair, Wintec had my legs too far back, and the jump saddle HURT to ride in. My knees and my ankles.

Another thing I just thought of is make sure your riding boots SUPPORT your ankle accordingly. Maybe your feet need inserts so the angle of your ankle is more comfortable.

Who knows.. try a few things and see what helps.
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post #7 of 7 Old 07-28-2012, 07:28 PM Thread Starter
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To clarify, one of my ankles hurts when it is flexed for too long (riding, driving a car, whatever) due to an old injury. It does not bother me much during lessons but it does when I go for long trail rides, which is why I wanted my stirrups as long as possible. I always ride in half chaps so plenty of support. The "good" ankle rarely bothers me.

I feel comfortable in the saddle I trail ride in, the only problem I have is with not being able to keep my stirrups properly while posting, which is why I assumed it was a problem with me not the tack. I will try to see if I am pinching my knees next time I ride since this has been suggested by several people.
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