Stronger leg, while keeping heels down?
   

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Stronger leg, while keeping heels down?

This is a discussion on Stronger leg, while keeping heels down? within the English Riding forums, part of the Riding Horses category
  • Tips to keep my heels down while riding
  • Can't keep heels down when rising trot

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  • 2 Post By tinyliny
  • 1 Post By ThursdayNext
  • 1 Post By Catdog88
  • 1 Post By hflmusicislife

 
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    08-23-2012, 12:26 PM
  #1
Weanling
Stronger leg, while keeping heels down?

Lately I've been riding more horses that require a lot of leg to get (and keep) them going, and I've been really struggling. It's made me realize I don't use nearly enough leg on any horse, even the quicker ones... I find as soon as I try to put leg on, my heels pop up. As soon as I put my heels down, my leg comes off the horse's side. I have a tendancy of locking my ankles (I'm working on it, but it's a tough habit to break) and can keep leg on if my ankle is stiff and inflexible, but I can't maintain the correct position and squeeze.

Does anyone have suggestions on things I can work on to help me keep more leg on while still keeping my heels down? I've been trying to do extra no-stirrup work lately but both my horses are pretty green so they're not always the most cooperative as they still try to run from leg pressure instead of balancing themselves and moving correctly off it. Hopefully that all makes sense! Thanks.
     
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    08-23-2012, 12:44 PM
  #2
Foal
I'm still pretty new to riding regularly, but my trainer focused a lot on leg before he ever let me progress to cantering. We did a lot of riding the trot in two-point/jump position and also two-ups, two-downs (holding yourself up for two beats of the trot, then sitting two beats). What a leg workout that was!

I had the same problem as you with locking my ankles, but riding around in two-point eventually trained my muscles to let my weight sink down into my heels and then when I'd go back to the rising trot I tried to let my legs remain in that same balanced position I'd held in the two-point. The goal of course while in two-point being not to lean too heavily on the neck or grab mane for balance. My legs also had a tendency to creep forward when I put leg on too and I had to break that habit as well. Some of the horses I've ridden also need more leg to keep their trots moving forward properly, but with all the leg exercises I'm able to give a little squeeze on each beat of the trot where I'm sitting without my heels popping up.

I hope this helps a little! Good luck! :)
     
    08-23-2012, 12:44 PM
  #3
Green Broke
Frog position! Think riding like a jockey with your stirrups in the highest hole.

Post differently an an exercise. Instead of the typical up-down, try up-stay up-down or different combinations.

Both of these will really build your legs up.

PS if it doesn't hurt, you're doing it wrong :)
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    09-01-2012, 01:22 PM
  #4
Foal
You could try these Reflex Sturrips. They're a little bit wider than other stirrups, shock absorbing, and really light weight so it's easier to keep you heel down and in the stirrup while riding.
Reflex Stirrups | Horse Tack & Riding Apparel
     
    09-01-2012, 01:35 PM
  #5
Super Moderator
Isn't part of this working toward making the horse more forward in the first place? So that you arne't required to "leg" him every stride? I would HATE to have to do that. Wouldn't it be best to give the horse a very firm crop reminder that he isn't doing his job and you aren't going to do it for him?
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    09-01-2012, 02:11 PM
  #6
Weanling
Quote:
Originally Posted by tinyliny    
isn't part of this working toward making the horse more forward in the first place? So that you arne't required to "leg" him every stride? I would HATE to have to do that. Wouldn't it be best to give the horse a very firm crop reminder that he isn't doing his job and you aren't going to do it for him?
Very true! I also can't possibly keep my heels down unless my horse lets me.
     
    09-04-2012, 08:45 PM
  #7
Weanling
Quote:
Originally Posted by tinyliny    
isn't part of this working toward making the horse more forward in the first place? So that you arne't required to "leg" him every stride? I would HATE to have to do that. Wouldn't it be best to give the horse a very firm crop reminder that he isn't doing his job and you aren't going to do it for him?
Yes, however my horses are much quicker paced and require a lot less leg. The issues aren't so much with my own horses, but the horses I take lessons on and ride for other people. I can use a crop in a lesson (provided my trainer gives me one) but since I'm not the only rider it's hard to try to correct the slowness long-term. I'm also on an IEA team this year, and from what my friends have said about previous years' horses, they can be SLOW and take lots of leg. Again, you can't just fix those horses for your ride and you most likely won't have a crop or spurs. The issue is mostly with me anyway, as I've even had trouble with fairly easy horses, hence why I want to fix myself; most of the time it isn't the horse's fault, it's my own. But were that not the case, I'd absolutely agree with you! I don't think anyone should need that much leg as it's certainly a pain, but I can only fix those problems in my horses.

I'll definitely look into different stirrups. I was just thinking the other day I should get new ones because I haven't felt very supported by mine lately...

Thanks to everyone else who reccomended exercises! I've been doing a good amount of no stirrup work with one of my mares lately at the walk/trot (i'm "retraining" her, as she has some pretty major issues that we're working on correcting...) and I've noticed my leg is much stronger on my leased horse now. Thanks again!
     
    09-04-2012, 08:53 PM
  #8
Yearling
Your leg is coming off when you push your heels down because you are getting tight in your hips and/or knees to do that, probably. Some things my trainer tells people to help with this are:
* don't push your heels down, pick your toes up
* lift your pinkie toe like a dainty lady would lift her little finger when taking a sip of tea
* think of your weight as pouring down your body and into your heels, not forcing its way down your body and into your heels.

I would also recommend doing a lot of quad stretches and hip-flexor stretches . That will make sure you're not just simply "tight" there.

In general, what you will want to do is to pay very close attention to your body whenever you take some action, and see where that is causing you to make changes in other places.

For example, you push your heels down, and voila, you notice that your butt muscles just tightened up.

Or you squeeze the reins for a half-halt, and realize that you've just tightened up all the way down your back.

Or you lay a leg on, and realize that you've just leaned forward and lifted your hands up.

This kind of thing seems to be incredibly common, and I know I have to deal with it in my own riding all the time.
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    09-04-2012, 11:04 PM
  #9
Foal
Great advice! Love the one with the pinky toes! Thank you!
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    09-05-2012, 06:40 AM
  #10
Weanling
Thursday- great advice, thanks so much! I'll try those stretches and see if I notice anything like you mentioned. By the way, I love your avatar picture ;)

Thanks again.
ThursdayNext likes this.
     

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