Major trouble with my heels?
   

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Major trouble with my heels?

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    07-29-2012, 08:56 AM
  #1
Foal
Major trouble with my heels?

Hey, so I've been riding for a couple of years now, and I have the same on-going problems!

No matter how hard I try, I cannot get my heels to stay down! I'm fine at the walk, but as soon as I kick the horse on, change transitions, post in the trot, my whole foot slips through the stirrup.

My boots are pretty old, so I was wondering whether that might add too it?

Are there any off-horse exercises I can do to strengthen the muscels needed?

I must admit, I have been getting better. But I'm still not satisfied.

Heres one picture from about 7 months ago: (I know, it makes me want to cry even looking at it. I'm not sure where the picture is coming up, but its the one with the chestnut)

And the other picture is from a few weeks ago. This was one of the only times my heel was down

P.s: I'm not dirty, I've worn that shirt twice. I just happened to get pictures at those lessons haha. And I know my positions not the greatest in either photos, so sorry.
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    07-29-2012, 10:18 AM
  #2
Foal
1st photo, as you stated your foot has slipped back. Something you need to be more aware of when it happens and learn how to fix it without stopping and tugging at the iron with your hand. Lift your foot slightly out of the stirrup and then place it back the ball of your foot.
2nd photo you have no inside calf on the horse, your leg needs to try and imitate your 1st photo more. It may look like your in a transition downwards? So you stuck your legs out and have picked up a defensive position with your seat.

What to do to help fix it:
1. No stirrups! Yaaaay! But no stirrups does not mean willy nilly my feet do what they want. Drop the stirrups and then heels down toe up!


I'm bareback, but look, toes up-heels down.

2. Practice dropping and picking up your stirrups. Drop your stirrups, but keep your leg up so if the stirrup flung just right it would slip back under your foot. Keeping your heels down at the same time. Then pick them up and focus on sinking your weight down into them-with your leg still back in the correct position.

I would also like to prescribe to you being lunged and going without hands and without stirrups. It helped me wonders. I went from...


That ^^ to this, in one year.

     
    07-29-2012, 10:23 AM
  #3
Trained
Your feet are too deep into the stirrup. Only the ball of your foot should be on the stirrup. Move your foot back and see if that helps. That might also help with your general position, as overall your feet are too far ahead of your hips, IMO. Take that second part with a grain of salt though as I am faaaarr from a technical rider.

It's hard to tell from those pics, but it looks like maybe your saddle is too small for you.
     
    07-29-2012, 11:16 AM
  #4
Trained
Just a few comments. Don't know if any will be relevant...

1 - Unlike a lot of folks, I see nothing wrong with riding with the foot mostly thru the stirrup. I asked the question on this thread not long after I joined HF, but most of what I wrote then still applies.

Question on stirrup position: ball of foot or mid-foot (home)

2 - I am very slowly building more flexibility - slowly as in 4 years and still with a long way to go. However, when your heel is under your hip, it is harder to lower your heel. When it is under my hip, slightly lower than level is the most my heel will go down even if I try to force it while sitting still.

Some people consider it very important to have the heel under the hip. I don't, so I find moving my feet slightly forward (or better still, riding in a saddle that puts my feet somewhat forward) makes it much easier for my heels to go down.

3 - If you are nervous about losing your stirrup, then you will tend to put your feet further into them & make heels down harder. Our Appy is pretty level headed and I find myself riding with my stirrup at the ball of my foot. My mare still sometimes does the sideways jump or sudden reverse, and I unconsciously put my feet much further into the stirrups with her.

4 - Shorter stirrups make it harder to lower the heel. If I'm standing, I can raise my toes no problem. If I bend my leg, then the backward tilt of my lower leg uses up all the flexibility my ankle has to offer. Sitting folded up in a chair as I type, if I put my heel under my hip, my heel WILL come off the floor.

5 - If my boots have a leather sole, they tend to slip more in the stirrup & I tend to stuff my feet further in. Rubber soles on rubber pads makes it easier. I once tried leather soles on stirrups without pads, and it was slick as snot on a doorknob. I spent the ride with my feet jammed thru the stirrups.

If none of this helps, ignore it & someone else will offer better advice. I find riding involves a lot of trade-offs. Trying to force my body into the "correct" position is a lot like forcing a horse into the "correct frame" - it makes things worse. I started riding at 50. And I'm a guy. I'm not a 14 year old girl who can twist her body like a soggy spaghetti noodle. Just like a dressage horse doesn't get there in a year, my body needs time as well.

As regards conditioning my body, I honestly have more luck just riding than trying to do stretches or exercises. It is kind of like throwing a ball. Exercises can make your arm stronger, but there is no substitute for just doing a LOT of throwing. Also, a 2 hour ride does more to improve me than 4 rides of 30 minutes each. On a longer ride, gravity and the horse wear my body out, and I stop subconsciously using my muscles to resist the horse. After 30 minutes, I still look tight. If I get off then, I don't make much progress. After 2 hours, I ride MUCH better.

In weightlifting, it is the final repetitions that give the most progress. In teaching my horse to ride trails, I notice it is the second hour that gives her the most progress. And so it is with my riding form.
     
    07-29-2012, 02:08 PM
  #5
Green Broke
I too think the saddle is too small for you. That alone doesn't help, but you need the balls of your feet on the irons, not the whole foot shoved in.

When you are mounted, you should be able to stand in stirrups and fit fist under your crotch.

It may be that your balance is not good too, and the foot shoving makes you feel more secure, which in turn could be caused by this saddle.

You can also stand on a step, with ball of foot on riser and lower yourself up and down, extending your heels as far down as you can, which will help you legs greatly.

But saddle fit is at bottom of this, I think.
     
    07-29-2012, 02:16 PM
  #6
Weanling
It would be helpful if we could see a few photos of you with your heels incorrect, that way we might be able to diagnose other balance/seat issues that might be contributing :)
     
    07-29-2012, 02:19 PM
  #7
Started
I'm not an English rider but when I first started riding, an old coach told me to put phonebooks on the ground (if you're sitting on the couch, doing dishes, on the comouter, whatever) and put your toes up on the phonebooks and put your heels on the ground. She told me that it would help me with keeping my heels down.

I haven't tried it in forever...I think I'm going to go do it now actually...
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    07-29-2012, 04:57 PM
  #8
Foal
Quote:
Originally Posted by bsms    
Just a few comments. Don't know if any will be relevant...

1 - Unlike a lot of folks, I see nothing wrong with riding with the foot mostly thru the stirrup. I asked the question on this thread not long after I joined HF, but most of what I wrote then still applies.

Question on stirrup position: ball of foot or mid-foot (home)
Not that I clicked the link to read what has been said, I just want to put in my 2cents here and now...

I feel as if this is a safety issue. In an english saddle to have your feet shoved into the irons is just as bad as riding in tennis shoes with an inexperienced rider. Lose your balance, lose one stirrup, get twisted in the other direction and hey looky there your foot is still in the stirrup as your on the ground. I've seen a rider fall down as she was dismounting because her foot was still in the stirrup and her horse took a step forward. Her foot was stuck in the stirrup.
Western on the other hand, which I assume is what Mr. Bsms is riding in (correct me if I am wrong) is a totally different stirrup. The bars are much wider and allow you to have more foot inside of the stirrup.
     
    07-29-2012, 05:25 PM
  #9
Trained
Quote:
Originally Posted by MidsummerFable    
Not that I clicked the link to read what has been said, I just want to put in my 2cents here and now...

I feel as if this is a safety issue. In an english saddle to have your feet shoved into the irons is just as bad as riding in tennis shoes with an inexperienced rider...
If you HAD read the thread, you would find I disagree with you - and so do some experienced riders.

First of all, the 'home' position was common thru around 1950, and the main reason for switching was to allow the ankle to flex more. It was shock absorption that drove the change, not safety.

Second, many riders continue to use the home position. Steeplechase, cutting, polo etc often use it. Bronco busting does - which says a lot about the 'dangers' of getting hung up.

"Lose your balance, lose one stirrup, get twisted in the other direction and hey looky there your foot is still in the stirrup as your on the ground."

Nope. Not if the stirrup fits. In a proper fitting ENGLISH stirrup, your foot cannot go all the way in (past the heel), but your foot will also come out with pressure.

This is important because when the horse hits the fan, your foot position in the stirrup can and often will change dramatically. When a horse starts bucking, spinning, leaping and twirling, the position of the rider's foot in the stirrup isn't always going to remain ball of the foot.

Like a lot of other riding instruction, the 'foot will get caught in the stirrup' thing gets repeated without any examination. If you are wearing sneakers, then someone with a small foot can run it all the way thru the stirrup. If you are riding with decent boots & a stirrup that fits, you cannot. If you don't know, then check the combination on the ground. If anything, western stirrups make it EASIER to put a foot thru the stirrups. Maybe that is why cowboy boots normally have a pretty good heel on them.

I am an unorthodox rider, but I am not a careless or unthinking one. There are advantages and disadvantages to the two basic stirrup positions.

Please read the link I provided before assuming I'm saying something dangerous. 90% of my riding is an an Aussie-style saddle, BTW. I've tried the shaped stirrups as an extra safety measure and really like them - can't feel the difference while riding, but my foot comes out easier on dismounts. Haven't been thrown in one (yet), so that ops check is incomplete:



Picture pulled off the Internet:



Another Internet picture:



An American (I think) cutting cattle:

     
    07-29-2012, 08:13 PM
  #10
Foal
I thought I should also add that in the second picture I was posting, so that's why it looks like I'm covering the saddle :P
     

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