WHY HEELS DOWN and not UP? - Page 3 - The Horse Forum
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post #21 of 88 Old 10-06-2009, 10:40 PM
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Originally Posted by jamesqf View Post
Well, no. The person who invented stirrups (if I'm remembering my history correctly) did it so that he could stand in them and use both hands to shoot arrows at pursuing foes. The possibility of a foot getting stuck probably wasn't foremost in his mind

But from what I've read and been told, it does happen, so you wear a particular kind of boot to make it less likely, perhaps learn to ride with your heels down, and so on, when it seems pretty easy to design a stirrup that a foot couldn't possibly get caught in. Which makes me wonder if there's a reason I don't know about, and the best way to find that out is to ask.
There are attachments you can put on stirrups that will stop your foot from sliding through, I think they're called toe stoppers. There are also a TON of safety stirrups that you "can't" get stuck in, because the rubber band will pop or it's shaped a certain way.

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post #22 of 88 Old 10-07-2009, 03:57 AM Thread Starter
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Saddles were invented before roman times and initially in some societies they did not have stirrups. Stirrups gave the rider the ability to wield a sword better and to hold a spear/lance. Drawings of those stirrups sometimes show a simple L shaped bracket which does not encircle the foot.
Stirrups also made it easier for an armoured man to mount.
Stirrups + high pommels and high cantels made it more possible for the knight to resist the shock of colliding with another similarly armed knight.
A high pommel,high cantel saddle is still used in rural Spain

There is no shortage of English "safety" stirrups, perhaps the easiest being the type which have a thick elastic band on the outside edge. I have also seen safety stirrups in trekking centres which are designed with a hood to prevent the foot going thru and becoming wedged.

However so long as the stirrup width is at least an inch wider that the boot at its broadest point, then the foot should not get wedged. The rider should wear boots which have as far as possible a flat sole.

Upon mounting a new horse fitted in tack which the rider is unfamliar with, then he should check that he can "kick" the stirrup iron off easily.

In the arena as has been said, the stirrup is there to keep the foot in place but out on a fast hack - some riders prefer to push the foot/boot home into the stirrup to make sure that they do not lose the stirrup on uneven terrain.

I have no idea what western riders do, but the actual design of a universal broad wooden stirrup iron covered in leather makes it less likely for the foot/boot to be caught up except perhaps when they wear boots with high heels-but I have no experience in the matter.

I have fallen off many times but as yet my foot has never been caught up. Don't ask why. Perhaps I was too concerned about hitting the ground at the time.

Barry G

Last edited by xxBarry Godden; 10-07-2009 at 03:59 AM.
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post #23 of 88 Old 10-07-2009, 12:09 PM
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Barry have you looked into the english stirrups that are raised in the front?
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post #24 of 88 Old 10-07-2009, 01:11 PM
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THANK YOU! Especially to Barry and MIE -- this has been the most interesting thread and I have learned a TON! I have wondered the same thing, and even asked before, but never got a satisfactory answer! Now, my next several riding sessions will be spent stirrupless. I now know how to really improve my seat, rather than just follow directions that may or may not be helpful just because "that's the way it is done."
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post #25 of 88 Old 10-07-2009, 02:18 PM Thread Starter
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A man called St Fort Paillard wrote a book "Understanding Equitation". He takes a chapter to explain the exact meaning of each word like "calmness" "straightness" "lightness" "impulsion" - as used in equitation.
In the arena, the teacher can talk, using such words and the pupil, sitting on the horse, may think he/she has understood. Sadly too often the pupil has not.

I am a problem to teach - everytime I don't think I have understood I ask the tutor to restate what he/she has said.
Then if I don't think what he/she said makes sense, I ask again usually with a sentence starting with "but".
Needless to say some tutors don't come back but it is important for the pupil to know and even more important to understand correctly.

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post #26 of 88 Old 10-07-2009, 02:33 PM Thread Starter
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The link you sent leads to the pedigree of a QH.

Nothing about stirrups??

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post #27 of 88 Old 10-07-2009, 03:21 PM
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Your heels should always be down because that is your anchor. Your weight should be sunken down in your heels with your ankles relaxed. So if a horse stops fast or refuses a jump, you won't go flying over his head. It also helps so your feet don't slip through the stirrups, in which case you could be dragged.

If your hamstrings are tight, stretch your legs on the edge of the stairs. It sounds like you need to stretch more.

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What a man can be, he must be.
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post #28 of 88 Old 10-09-2009, 10:45 PM
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I used to take aikido. Our sensei showed us how the position of your extremities controls the direction of the force in your body. Aikido is about controlling momentum, and he used to tell us to point where we wanted to go (or more precisely, where we wanted our opponent to land ) Japanese archers point their index finger at the target. You would think that would be bad because it lessens your grip on the bow, but actually it is more effective.

It's the same with keeping your heels down when riding. If your toes are pointed down, your momentum will also be oriented downward and the rest of your body will tend to follow, causing you to lean forward. Looking down when riding is bad for the same reason, not just because it means you can't see where you're going. I've noticed in pictures that the people who look down over jumps are also the ones who end up sprawled all over their horse's necks.
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post #29 of 88 Old 10-09-2009, 11:41 PM
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Your heels should always be down because that is your anchor. Your weight should be sunken down in your heels with your ankles relaxed. So if a horse stops fast or refuses a jump, you won't go flying over his head. It also helps so your feet don't slip through the stirrups, in which case you could be dragged.
Security in your saddle is not obtained by deep heels. It is obtained by a deep, balanced, secure seat.

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post #30 of 88 Old 10-10-2009, 01:15 AM
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MI Eventer has some great points.

I was in lessons for a year and was constantly told "keep your heals down!", keeping my heals as far "down" as she wanted caused problems with future horses. I then had a very kind, smart horse woman take me aside and work with me on my seat, NOT ON MY HEALS, she dropped my stirrups way down so that I barely had them (because we were in a public riding ring not a private one or else she would have taken them totally) it taught me to rely on my butt and upper thighs to keep in the the proper position and over his center of gravity.

I thank her for that immensely now because I have a high strung TB who constantly tests me, its my seat that keeps me on his back and NOT my heals, my heals are still down, yes, because it was POUNDED into my head that they had to be, but they are no longer as far down as they used to be.

If you have a solid seat there is no reason to deal with forcing your heals down.

16 year old TWH Mare named Ginger
3 year old APHA Paint Gelding named Fox.
RIP Evie (Clydesdale) 7.29.09 & Magic (OTTB) 2.23.10
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