Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Eventing Country
• Horses: 0
Maybe I can help you out, hopefully.
It is not necessarily correct to have heels down or heels up. It is about what aids you, as the rider, to beable to have a solid and secure, supple leg.
Solid meaning, under you during flat work, at the girth during jumping. Secure meaning where your leg needs to be, but functional. Supple meaning, not stiff, while being able to do it's job with the task at hand.
While yes when we jump our heels are supposed to anchor us into our tack. Why? Because the majority of the riders out there do not train their seats.
Lets start at the beginning. Studdy the Spanish Riding School Masters in Vienna. When a rider has been chosen to be a part of their phenominal riding academy, the rider is put on a horse, with a lunge line, with no reins what-so-ever.
Why? Because they are taught to use their seat first. Our seats are the most important factor to riding. Not out legs, not our heels, definitely not our hands.
These riders are stuck on the lunge for a whole year before they are even given their reins.
Studdy their videos on youtube. The majority ride with long leathers and yes, heels are even with their toes or higher. Why? Because they are impecably well balanced, because they have phenominally trained seats.
The longer the leather in highly educated riders, the better balanced they are - because they use their seats first and foremost. Their seats are their heart to functional, balanced form.
Now - lets go back to the norm. Because the majority of us are not taught properly nor educatedly, and are permitted to to things on our horses before we should be - we are not as educated in our seats as we should be. Lets admit it, the majority of us ride hands first and have no clue how to even use our seats nor are taught that our seats are the most important factor to riding.
So - we aren't as well balanced. We are not as secure in our tack as those who are taught properly. So we have to resort to other parts of our body to secure us and solidify us in our tack....aka...our heels.
So the question isn't should our heels be up or should our heels be down - the question really is, "How can we solidify our seats to obtain a more balanced and secure form when we ride?"
A) I have seen riders with solid legs at the girth over fences, with their heels even with their toes. I wouldn't complain because they are solid and sunk in their tack, they aren't going to budge. Their seats are low to their saddle, their seats are centered over their tack, their legs are glued to that girth and they are over their horses center of gravity, without impeding their horses movement and job.
B) But, there are MANY out there who have no solidity in their lower leg over fences. They pinch their knees instead to obtain that security in their tack, their seats are lurched way out of their tack, crotch over pommel and lower leg so far behind them - they are going to do a face plant into their horses necks, or the dirt.
Which rider would I stress to resort in relying on their lower leg and heels? Which rider would I stress how important it is to rely on their lower leg and heels? Rider B, naturally.
Because they do not have the security in their seat, the balance to solidify themselves in their tack, so they must learn to re-establish their leg placement to aid them in that ultimate goal - secure, balanced seats.
That is why we hear George Morris stress over and over and over again, stirrupless work - so that we turn to our seats to secure us, not our knees, not our legs.
Flat work - really, it isn't our heels that anchor us, it is our seat.
So - it isn't incorrect to have heels up, it isn't incorrect to have heels down.........what it ultimately is - is how balanced and solid is the riders seat?
IF they do not have the seat, they MUST have their lower leg, and their heels - to aid in anchoring them.
If they have a solid leg and a solid, balanced seat - who cares if their heels are up.