How do I keep my heels down and keep the stirrups on the balls of my feet? - The Horse Forum
 
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post #1 of 9 Old 09-03-2011, 04:05 AM Thread Starter
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How do I keep my heels down and keep the stirrups on the balls of my feet?

Hi, I have been having the problem of keeping my heels down when I ride and keeping the stirrup at the balls of my feet. Whenever I'm posting, and I'm doing a good job of keeping my heels down, the stirrup will slide down my foot so that it's at my heel. I've tried kids stirrups, but they're too small, since I have slightly wide feet. Any advice? If it makes a difference, I do dressage.
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post #2 of 9 Old 09-03-2011, 08:31 AM
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If your feet are sliding through your stirrups you either a) have your heels up which you say you don't so I'm going to assume it's the OTHER problem.

Not enough weight in the stirrups.

Either way it is beneficial to shorten your stirrups just a hole or two, and do a LOT of standing in the stirrups, at walk first until you get more of a feel for it and then at trot and canter.

I did a huge amount of standing at walk and trot on my old pony and I no longer have trouble with slipping stirrups, whereas before then, I lost them ALL THE TIME.

It also helps that I have a saddle that DEMANDS length and stretch through the leg. Saddles are either helpful or completely unhelpful in my experience and the trick is knowing which is which.
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post #3 of 9 Old 09-03-2011, 09:07 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blue eyed pony View Post
If your feet are sliding through your stirrups you either a) have your heels up which you say you don't so I'm going to assume it's the OTHER problem.

Not enough weight in the stirrups.

Either way it is beneficial to shorten your stirrups just a hole or two, and do a LOT of standing in the stirrups, at walk first until you get more of a feel for it and then at trot and canter.

I did a huge amount of standing at walk and trot on my old pony and I no longer have trouble with slipping stirrups, whereas before then, I lost them ALL THE TIME.

It also helps that I have a saddle that DEMANDS length and stretch through the leg. Saddles are either helpful or completely unhelpful in my experience and the trick is knowing which is which.
Thanks! I'll definitely try that tomorrow when I ride at my new barn! So even if the stirrups are down to the length of my arm, I should still shorten them? Thanks again!
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post #4 of 9 Old 09-03-2011, 09:21 AM
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Mine are actually longer than the length of my arm but I've been riding in my dressage saddle for about 10 months now so I'm very used to having very long stirrups. Plus I have very long legs!

A better/more accurate guesstimate of where your stirrup length should be is to mount up, kick your feet out of the stirrups and let them hang. With your legs totally relaxed and hanging, your stirrups should be touching the top of your foot. It'll vary depending on the saddle - my flatwork length in my dressage saddle is massively longer than my flatwork length in my allpurpose saddle, by about 4 or 5 holes!

The reason the 'in the saddle' method is better/more reliable is that everyone's proportions are different, and every saddle sits you naturally in a different way according to how it is built and how you are built.

The standing thing should fix both the potential reasons for your stirrups sliding, just make sure your stirrups are the correct length for you in the saddle. And sometimes you'll find that as you get better/more comfortable in the saddle your leg will hang farther and farther and you'll be able to ride longer and longer. That's what happened with me. I really feel it if Mum's been riding in my saddle, because her legs are shorter than mine - and the stirrup length is only one hole different for her and me!
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post #5 of 9 Old 09-03-2011, 11:44 AM
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Another way to get correct stirrup length is to kick feet out of stirrups and the bottom of the stirrup should be even with that tender bone on the inside of your ankle.

Heels are down because the weight is carried more in the thighs and legs than on the butt, so the heels must drop and the stirrup won't move!

When I was a kid learning to ride I had a series of screamer instructors. I can remember being yelled at to get my weight on my thighs and legs so my heels would drop and off my butt n a most 'indelicate' manner. Even at a tender age (not into double digits yet) I found the screaming and the language fairly amusing...

The best way to think of this is to go to the bottom step of a set of stairs. Stand on the stairs so only the ball of your foot is on the step and your heel is hanging out in thin air.. and gradually drop your heel stretchingyour calf muscle. This is, BTW, a good exercise to do as part of your non riding exercise program. Be sure to be at the BOTTOM step and do hang on to the railing on each side!

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post #6 of 9 Old 09-03-2011, 06:40 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blue eyed pony View Post
Mine are actually longer than the length of my arm but I've been riding in my dressage saddle for about 10 months now so I'm very used to having very long stirrups. Plus I have very long legs!

A better/more accurate guesstimate of where your stirrup length should be is to mount up, kick your feet out of the stirrups and let them hang. With your legs totally relaxed and hanging, your stirrups should be touching the top of your foot. It'll vary depending on the saddle - my flatwork length in my dressage saddle is massively longer than my flatwork length in my allpurpose saddle, by about 4 or 5 holes!

The reason the 'in the saddle' method is better/more reliable is that everyone's proportions are different, and every saddle sits you naturally in a different way according to how it is built and how you are built.

The standing thing should fix both the potential reasons for your stirrups sliding, just make sure your stirrups are the correct length for you in the saddle. And sometimes you'll find that as you get better/more comfortable in the saddle your leg will hang farther and farther and you'll be able to ride longer and longer. That's what happened with me. I really feel it if Mum's been riding in my saddle, because her legs are shorter than mine - and the stirrup length is only one hole different for her and me!
Thanks! I'm leaving for the barn in a couple hours, so I'll make sure I'll do that!
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post #7 of 9 Old 09-03-2011, 06:46 PM
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I didn't read all the responses but from what you are describing, I would say you are lifting the ball of your foot up instead of pushing your heal down. What you can do is practice at home by standing on the edge of the stair and forcing your heals down rather then lifting your foot up. Hope that helps.

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post #8 of 9 Old 09-03-2011, 07:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by farmpony84 View Post
What you can do is practice at home by standing on the edge of the stair and forcing your heals down rather then lifting your foot up. Hope that helps.
That worked wonders for helping me keep my heals down! I always thought I was keeping them down but it wasn't until I started practicing that stretching exercise on the stairs that I was really able to keep them down. You will really feel the pull when you first start to do it!
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post #9 of 9 Old 09-03-2011, 07:09 PM
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Feet coming out of stirrups is often the result of grabbing with your knees. That blocks the rider from really sinking into the lower leg. As the tight knee gets bounced, the knee will creep up the saddle raising the weight even more out of the stirrup. Eventually, the foot is so high it slips right out of the stirrup.

Shaking that knee loose will allow the lower leg to wrap around the barrel of the horse and will let the rider's weight sink into the stirrup.
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