Leg on Girth or Behind Girth? Who is right? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 15 Old 08-26-2013, 08:34 PM Thread Starter
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Leg on Girth or Behind Girth? Who is right?

I have two english riding instructors. One says that "home position" of your leg is always at the girth, because that's where saddle manufacturers put the stirrups. My second riding instructor, a seasoned dressage pro says that "home position" is always behind he girth. Who is right?

It's more difficult to keep my leg behind the girth because I have to push the stirrup backwards; however when I look at many dressage riders, their lower leg is always way behind the girth.

Who is right? Any thoughts?
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post #2 of 15 Old 08-26-2013, 08:52 PM
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Now keep in mind that I am not an english rider but:

I always kind of thought that the "home" position was when your leg was directly under your hip, keeping the shoulder/hip/heel alignment.

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post #3 of 15 Old 08-26-2013, 08:56 PM
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I ride English and I was taught the same as what smrobs posted above. My legs do go back for certain cues but the "ideal" I think is being properly aligned.
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post #4 of 15 Old 08-26-2013, 08:59 PM
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My leg goes behind the girth. See these images:





If my leg were at the girth I would have a very thick layer of leather between the horse and me and that's not very effective at all.
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post #5 of 15 Old 08-26-2013, 10:03 PM
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if my leg were at the girth, I would be in a chair seat. my heel and ankle are behind it, at least I try to have them there.
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post #6 of 15 Old 08-26-2013, 10:18 PM
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Ball of the foot near the girth, but heel and ankle behind so that you have access to the horse's side for effective cues.
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post #7 of 15 Old 08-26-2013, 11:13 PM
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I think the US Cavalry was right. Stirrup strap should hang straight down. With my saddles (including English), ball of foot in the stirrup, that puts the heel in a vertical line with my belt buckle - like the dressage rider shown above, or this one:



I will sometimes ride with my heels further forward, for my own reasons:



However, in my experience, it makes cueing your horse a challenge. My calf is either on or barely behind the girth, and it just means more pressure is needed for her to feel me. I normally will bring my heels back a few inches to cue when I'm riding that way.

I'm not an instructor, but a saddle is designed to have your rump in the deepest part and the stirrup straps or fender handing straight down. That results in gravity being your friend instead of your foe. In most saddles, that should put your calf & heel just behind the girth. With my Aussie-style saddle, it normally puts my leg here:



I ride with both, but if I could only choose one, it would be calf/heel a little behind the girth, with the stirrup strap hanging vertical.

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post #8 of 15 Old 08-27-2013, 01:48 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks y'all. I guess the old "shoulder, hip, heel" alignment principle still holds true but depending on a person's body type, the horse's built, the type of saddle, and stirrup length, the rider's leg position may not always be in the ideal position.
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post #9 of 15 Old 08-27-2013, 01:53 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bsms View Post
I think the US Cavalry was right. Stirrup strap should hang straight down. With my saddles (including English), ball of foot in the stirrup, that puts the heel in a vertical line with my belt buckle - like the dressage rider shown above, or this one:

I will sometimes ride with my heels further forward, for my own reasons:

However, in my experience, it makes cueing your horse a challenge. My calf is either on or barely behind the girth, and it just means more pressure is needed for her to feel me. I normally will bring my heels back a few inches to cue when I'm riding that way.

I'm not an instructor, but a saddle is designed to have your rump in the deepest part and the stirrup straps or fender handing straight down. That results in gravity being your friend instead of your foe. In most saddles, that should put your calf & heel just behind the girth. With my Aussie-style saddle, it normally puts my leg here:


I ride with both, but if I could only choose one, it would be calf/heel a little behind the girth, with the stirrup strap hanging vertical.
Thanks BSMS...so that's where the differing opinions come from...it's the classical European dressage seat versus the US Cavalry dressage seat.
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post #10 of 15 Old 08-27-2013, 02:20 PM
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It's not that simple bc different saddles girth in different places. Typically, English saddles girth up about 4 fingers width behind the elbow.
You find your home position when you drop your stirrups and hang your leg. At this point it is lined up shoulder, hip, heel. You are supposed to have your leg lined up like this WITH your stirrups, but I can't tell that unless I see a picture of you mounted.
Where you lined up leg touches is where you cue for:
-forward,
-backing,
-walk to trot
-push forward into bit for the halt and the half halt
When you cue for the canter you use your outside leg beHIND the girth.
When you cue for a sidepass you hold the haunches with your leg behind the girth.
When you hold the shoulders from popping out your use the leg in FRONT of the girth.
If you horse has a long back you need to use your leg further back than just behind the girth.
NOTE: These cues are meaningless on a green horse. They only function on a finished horse.

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