Question on stirrup position: ball of foot or mid-foot (home) - Page 3
 
 

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

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  • Accident de jockey
  • Proper foot placement in the stirrup

 
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    01-03-2011, 10:30 PM
  #21
Trained
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gizmo    
Yeah, sometimes it doesn't even have to go through it. It can just get stuck in it. When you fall off and get it stuck and turned its positions so its going to stay there. See how this guys foot is halfway in it? Not all the way through. That can still happen to you.
You bring up a worthwhile point. I'll need to think about it.

That probably isn't all that far different than how I looked when I came off Mia (except I was surrounded by rocks and cactus), but as she moved away at high speed, my foot pulled thru. If the pressure is sideways, then the sole of the boot can hold on momentarily - but the pull is from the top of the stirrup. If the stirrup is too small, then the top could hold on. If the stirrup is too big, then the foot can slide through. If the stirrup fits, then the foot can neither slide thru nor catch the toe. I wear a size 8 US, and the top can and did smack my toes and jerked my foot as it pulled off.

Just looking at it, I suspect that fellow's foot came out pretty quick like - as soon as his foot flexes forward, there will be nothing there to hold the foot in.

If your foot is touching at the ball of the foot and the heel down, then it is more likely to come out...both for good and ill. The trails where I live in AZ are full of rocks and cactus. My first time thrown, I hit about 18" from a bunch of large, jagged rocks. When I asked experienced riders in the area, they all said to stay on if possible unless cars were involved.

But your point is valid, and deserves thought.
     
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    01-03-2011, 10:54 PM
  #22
Green Broke
IMO/E, the best way to stay in the saddle is to be in the correct position. Form fits function. Sure, "correct" position will differ among disciplines simply b/c they have different purposes, but for me as someone who jumps, I am most safe, effective, and secure when my lower leg is underneath me. If you throw your lower leg forward it will tip your upper body back, which may help you to be more secure if in that precarious situation you want to lean forward or let your seat out of the saddle (both very common). Unfortunately, this isn't the safest position for all circumstances. So I prefer to strengthen my core muscles, train my lower leg to stay in the correct stable position so my upper body can stay balanced, and train my instinct to balance my body instead of getting into a defensive position. This includes keeping my stirrup on the ball of my foot. NOT because I'm afraid of my foot going through the stirrup, but because I can't get my heel down with my stirrup back that far.

A quote from George Morris's Hunt Seat Equitation about the subject: "I ask my pupils when mounted to place the ball of the foot (not the toe, as this undermines security giving the foot too little stirrup support) in the middle of the stirrup and push the heel down and in, just behind the girth. The greater leverage afforded by this foot placement permits more depression of the heel; the heel is then more flexible and acts as a more sensitive aid, as opposed to riding with feet "home" in the stirrups. "Home" is the term used to describe placement of the rider's food all the way into the stirrup as far the heel of the boot."

In plain english, putting the stirrup on the ball of your foot lets your heel come down more, which is the most secure and effective. Every so often GM will comment on an eventer in his PH jumping clinic that rides with their stirrup at home. He acknowledges that at high speeds across rough terrain it is popular, but he prefers them to place it on the ball of their foot.
     
    01-03-2011, 10:56 PM
  #23
Green Broke
OP, just to add about the toes out comment... you actually don't want to force your toes forward. This is a common misconception! (probably b/c so many trainers say, 'toes forward!') What's important is to have the inside of your calf have contact with your horse's side. According to your personal leg structure, as long as your inside calf is touching, your toes can be angled out as much as 45 degrees. In fact, forcing your toes forward can actually roll your feet in, where you're actually supposed to have more weight on the big toe part of your foot. (i'm speaking for hunters, jumpers, eq, eventers, and the like) Agreed, it's much more comfortable to allow your ankles to be relaxed then to force them in an unnatural position!
     
    01-04-2011, 12:03 AM
  #24
Trained
For me it's not so much about speed, but manouvering. I turn at a gallop - I have lost stirrups before and nearly come off. Cutting a cow or turning in a mounted games race are very different than flat racing.

In mounted games I have to hang off the side of my horse and get things off the ground at a gallop. And yep, I've come off a lot! I think if my foot could come free in those extreme situations I'm pretty ok. (in an English saddle by the way).
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    01-04-2011, 12:08 AM
  #25
Trained
Regarding the chair position: If your seat and stirrups are in a line, then your 3 points of support are in a line perpendicular to the horse's spine. If you want to free up the horse's motion for maximum performance, that is good - and that is, I suspect, why it is right for dressage and jumping.

However, if your support is perpendicular to the horse's back, then sudden changes in the horse's velocity will have greater impact on your balance. If your horse suddenly stops, then you don't have anything to keep your weight above your points of support. Thus the cavalry recommended a chair position for the average rider and average horse, particularly covering rough terrain. IIRC, Dick Francis (of mystery writing fame, who was a famous steeplechase jockey before) recommended a mild chair position for steeplechase, and most western sports follow suit. Western and Australian saddles tend to force you into that position, although a western saddle does it in part to help with the impact when you rope - something most western riders never do. Sudden stops and sudden bursts of speed are easier to control with 3 points of support.

After sprawling a time or two on my horse's neck while riding an English saddle off property, I read the cavalry manual and figured it made sense. I freely confess I don't have enough experience to KNOW, and that this is just me trying to understand WHY various styles of riding exist.

On property, riding an English saddle, keeping my heels in line with my hips and shoulders feels right. I'm pretty certain it would help the horse max perform in athletic events - if I was a much better rider! I also ride then with my stirrup on the ball of my foot and TRY to have my heels down. My feet don't stick as far out as they used to, but still are about 45 deg out - anything straighter turns my legs into solid wood, and I'm convinced a relaxed leg is more important than toes ahead.

With an Australian or western saddle, off property, I've moved my feet a bit forward and am experimenting with my stirrup at mid-foot. If it works for campdrafting, cutting, steeplechase & polo, and if Julie Goodnight does it when riding spooky horses (Question answered by Julie--where to put your foot. . . . | Facebook), then maybe it is something to add to my bag of tricks. If one is more concerned with the bad things that happen when you lose your stirrup than you are about getting free, then it makes sense. I also am a bit skeptical that it REALLY helps get the foot free better than the home position...but I don't have the experience to judge that well.

I spent most of my adult life in the US Air Force. Flying manuals distinguish between procedures and techniques. Procedures are things you MUST do, or risk death or serious damage to the jet. Techniques are things that may work well for you in some situations, but not others. They are options that you can use or not use as you gain experience.

The riding I did as a teen seemed to be all procedure, no technique. And that may be best, when starting. Returning to riding after a 25 year break, and doing it daily instead of a dozen times each year, I'm trying to learn WHY we do things, so I can tell what things are procedures and which ones are techniques - and I thank all the posters on this thread for giving me a lot to think about.
     
    01-09-2011, 12:34 PM
  #26
Weanling
As a purely functional rider who has ridden spooky Arabs for years: I've tried many styles of riding to see what works. A problem with the chair seat you may not have experienced yet is that a quick bolt on a fast horse will cause you to lose your balance backwards and flip off. As for the toes out/in: I have learned it is most comfortable to keep my knee, ankle and toes aligned so they all point the same direction. The angle will differ depending on if a person has thin or thick thighs, how flexible the hip is, etc.
After years of working on my "seat," no matter how much I tried to learn to balance my horses would catch me off guard sometimes. I learned that the only way to stay with a horse 99% of the time is to keep your weight down in your stirrups and lower legs. This requires your lower leg to touch your horse. I used to lose my stirrups or feel insecure trotting in deep sand or cantering up twisting, narrow trails that required frequent lead changes. I learned to shorten my stirrups to where I could take my weight mostly off the saddle and learned to two-point by flexing my ankles, knees and waist and getting my weight in the stirrups. To do this your heels have to be down slightly and your stirrups on the balls of your feet or slightly behind. If your horse stops suddenly you will not be thrown forward as long as a good portion of your weight is down in the stirrups. You will naturally press weight forward into the stirrups which prevents your lower leg from swinging back and keeps your body from pivoting forward.
A person who sits down hard in the saddle is like a person sitting on a chair. If you move the chair suddenly their balance is disrupted. A person lightly sitting in the saddle and keeping weight and balance in the stirrups is like a person standing on the ground. It is much harder to push them off balance. If you can learn to two-point at all gaits so it is natural and easy to do indefinitely, your horse can bolt, spin, spook or buck and you will balance on your feet by instinct before your mind has time to react. I have found myself turned around 180 degrees and running the other way on my horse before I had time to react. When I used to try to balance on my butt in the saddle I would find myself sitting on the ground instead.
     
    01-09-2011, 12:51 PM
  #27
Weanling
I have seen people have their foot go through a stirrup when they were riding in a shoe with no heel. If they had fallen off at that moment they would have been dragged and/or would probably have broken their leg. I think the most important factor for not getting a foot stuck is not where your foot sits in the stirrup but whether your stirrup is large enough for your boot and whether your boot has a heel. People who wear fat boots and stick them in small stirrups where there is no space for the stirrup to fall off easily are asking for trouble in my opinion. By the way I have fallen off horses at least 30 or 40 times and have never had an issue with my boot catching in the stirrup. But I always ride with a heel. I've had more issues with stirrups falling off the safety bars when a horse rears, jumps or goes up a steep hill. Or by getting hit in the head with stirrups as I'm falling off.
     
    01-10-2011, 06:43 AM
  #28
Trained
Quote:
Originally Posted by gottatrot    
As a purely functional rider who has ridden spooky Arabs for years: I've tried many styles of riding to see what works. A problem with the chair seat you may not have experienced yet is that a quick bolt on a fast horse will cause you to lose your balance backwards and flip off...

...no matter how much I tried to learn to balance my horses would catch me off guard sometimes. I learned that the only way to stay with a horse 99% of the time is to keep your weight down in your stirrups and lower legs. This requires your lower leg to touch your horse. I used to lose my stirrups or feel insecure trotting in deep sand or cantering up twisting, narrow trails that required frequent lead changes. I learned to shorten my stirrups to where I could take my weight mostly off the saddle...

... I think the most important factor for not getting a foot stuck is not where your foot sits in the stirrup but whether your stirrup is large enough for your boot and whether your boot has a heel...
Your experience mostly mirrors mine. While I don't want to ride full time in a two point, I do need to have the option of shifting to one very quickly, and to get my weight concentrated low very quickly. If my legs are already draped down around the horse vertically, that is tough to do. A shorter stirrup gives me that, but must be compensated for with either moving my feet forward some (I'm talking inches - a chair position, not a 'riding my Harley' position) or by bending my leg more so my heel can be directly beneath me. If I do the second, then the limited flexibility possible in MY ankles forces my heel up level or higher than my toes - and having my toes pointed down is a lot riskier, I think, than having my feet 'home' in the stirrup.

By moving my feet a few inches forward in the stirrup, I can keep my leg bent some AND my heels down.

I think the best 'safety stirrup' is a stirrup that fits your foot. It should be big enough to allow a pivot to force the foot free, but small enough that your heel cannot go through. My foot isn't very long, so I can do that with a 4.75" english stirrup and almost no heel. If my foot was longer, I'd need a deeper or wider stirrup, with a more pronounced heel to prevent my foot from going through. I have seen a western stirrup that was so deep (tall) that my normal Roper riding shoe could slide through, and even my Red Wing boots left me nervous - so I refused to use the saddle.

I have not had a problem with being forced too far back by a spooked horse in most of my saddles. The cantles are all high enough to pull my hips along regardless, at least to date. My English jump saddle is flat enough that I could see getting dumped if my horse jumps forward. Since my bones aren't getting any younger, and my horses reserve the right to leap in fear when birds flush out underneath them, I won't use that saddle off property.

Also, if my horse is tensing up, I tilt forward a bit just in case. With a forward tilt, I think I could stay on even with the jump saddle, but I'm not willing to accept the risk off property. My last fall was 2 years ago this month, and my hip still hurts at times - and I landed on SMALL rocks that time. The ones in the desert of southern Arizona could easily shatter my back...so on the trail, it's a deep saddle for me!
     
    01-10-2011, 09:05 AM
  #29
Showing
Quote:
Originally Posted by bsms    
Also, if my horse is tensing up, I tilt forward a bit just in case. With a forward tilt, I think I could stay on even with the jump saddle, but I'm not willing to accept the risk off property.
Actually if the horse bucks that's not a good idea at all - a good chance you'll eat some dirt.

Upnover brought a great point, it's not so much about "toe straight", but how you wrap legs around the horse.
     
    01-10-2011, 11:30 AM
  #30
Trained
My horses are not buckers by nature. The Appy will buck, but only if he thinks you are mad at him and likely to punish him - a left-over from 6 months on a ranch where someone spurred holes in his sides. If you don't act mad, then he is like the mare - he'll jump forward if frightened, then either turn around to look or go 50 yards and turn around to look.

The jump saddle is designed to help the horse clear a jump, not the rider to stay on. At my low experience/competence level, it is like a fine leather bareback pad. You couldn't pay me to ride in it thru the desert :



     

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