The stirrups... a foot rest or something to dig into? - Page 2

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The stirrups... a foot rest or something to dig into?

This is a discussion on The stirrups... a foot rest or something to dig into? within the English Riding forums, part of the Riding Horses category

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    08-21-2011, 09:32 PM
I'm can easily walk without stirrups and I know I don't put much pressure on the stirrups at the walk.
But at the trot, I always use my stirrups to push into to post. And that's probably wrong.
I was talking to this one girl at the barn months ago who is on the equestrian team at her college. She said one of their warm up exercises is posting and doing the 2 point without stirrups.
I'm sure I'm relying on the stirrups more than I should. I'm going to ask for more work without them. I think that is the only way to not rely on using them and using my legs more.
I know there are a lot of purist riders who believe that a good rider should be able to hop on a horse and ride sans tack and that it's the tack that ends up contributing to injuries. I definitely see what they mean. I know I need to use my body against the horse's body to ride but as mentioned, easier said then done! Lol
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    08-21-2011, 10:17 PM
Originally Posted by Heelsdown    
But at the trot, I always use my stirrups to push into to post. And that's probably wrong.
Not really. It just depends on how much you are pushing off your stirrups/feet. Posting is sort of a pelvic thrust motion, more forward/down rather than up/down. I *think* I use some of the muscle on the top of my thigh, but I'm not sure. That doesn't mean grip with the knee, though.

It is not incorrect to use your stirrups when posting. Riding without stirrups is irrelevant. Sure, it strengthens the leg but just because you can post without stirrups doesn't make it incorrect to use the stirrups when you have them.

A good way to think about it is posting from your heel.
    08-21-2011, 11:23 PM
I brace my stirrups so hard. I don't realize I'm doing it until my wonky right knee starts aching out of nowhere. I'll drop my stirrups for a minute or so to let my knee completely relax, then put them back and be fine for a few minutes..annnd then slowly start bracing again.

I'm getting better about it, I think, because I'm trotting more. If I brace my stirrups, I bounce all over. But I'm working on it.
    08-21-2011, 11:40 PM
When I ride (western or dressage) I think of my stirrups somewhat like my reins; I can have a firm contact or a light contact and I should be able to change seamlessly from one to the other as needed. So, if I am walking, I only "feel" my stirrups. Someitmes , just for fun, I'll kind of "pet " them with the ball of my foot, reposition my foot and experiement with differen angles and feels. It's kind of a dialogue with the stirrup. Even while trotting along and posting, I should be able to make some minor repositioning of my stirrjup without losing it.

I do put weight down into my heel, but it doesn't stop at the stirrup; it goes THROUH the stirrup. The stirrup helps me to keep the front of my foot up and the rear (heel) more down but I think of the whole leg as going downward and backward with my heel linked to the horse's hind feet (mentally linked).

If one puts pressure into the stirrup so much and at such a forward angle that you counter the natural line that the stirrup leather or fender would take if it was freely hanging, then you are bracing. Other than jumping, I think that sort of bracing is not good. Even jumping maybe not good. JUmpers?
    08-21-2011, 11:53 PM
I have so much support from my legs that I lose my stirrups at the canter. Its not that my heels aren't down. My legs actually rise at the canter to go with the horse's motion. To keep them I have to "brace" a little by sinking my weight a tad bit deeper into my heels.
But I do put weight in my stirrups, absolutely. I can only ride for so long without stirrups!
    08-22-2011, 01:47 AM
I can't wait for my next lesson now.

I wasn't understanding how I could sink my weight into my heels and yet not dig into the stirrups using them for balance. But I think I get it now.
Of course what works in my head doesn't always go so well in the saddle.

I know that the faster I'm going, I've often had one foot end up shoved into the stirrup which scares the crap out of me. If I fall, I don't want to be hanging by one foot. So I'm thinking somehow my weight is shifting from my heels into the ball of my foot. I have to keep my weight into my heels only.

It will be nice when I've been doing this long enough I don't have to think it and I can just have my muscle memory take over.
    08-22-2011, 02:07 AM
I can relate to that. I used to lose my right stirrup at the canter all the time. I still do from time to time, but it means I am gripping up with the calf and that is not a good thing. Just gotta keep thinking, "down the weight, up the eyes"
    08-22-2011, 08:34 PM
Oh me too! And now my body is doing this new thing where my upper body is in line but my hips shift. So on a circle or something my outside leg gets really loose at the canter and I lose the stirrup!

If its not one thing; its another :p
    08-22-2011, 09:54 PM
As far as I can tell, the answer depends on who you ask. I've made the mistake of taking dressage clinics from too many different people. I've heard the entire spectrum of foot rest to sinking all of my weight into them. It's very confusing. I kind of stopped listening to anyone and just try to put enough weight into them to where I feel secure in terms of anchoring myself into the saddle and light enough to not use them to post off of. I find I use more weight for jumping and less for dressage. I stopped worrying about what's right and going more with what works for me.
    08-22-2011, 11:16 PM
Well, having just watched a schooling show yesterday, too many of the riders (training and first level mostly in this case) have their stirrups too long. They have no weight in their stirrup and end up "fishing" for them with toe down and heel up. They then post really poorly, lever off the knee and being unable to drop their knee because it's pinched, and losing the alignment.

Look at the pictures of classical riders. There is a good bend in the knee, not a straight line.

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