12-29-2011, 12:23 PM
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You really need to work on stabilizing your lower leg. Very important. With a solidified lower leg, you will beable to stay balanced.
Firstly, you have to stop thinking about "heels down" and start thinking "Weight in heels". It isn't about shoving your heels down, that will get you no where - as you clearly stated, you lose your lower leg regardless. You have to re-distribute your body from head to toe first, before you see a change.
Starting with the first puzzle piece, you have to ensure that your feet are in your irons correctly. The base of the iron should be at the balls of your toes, then place the outter bar at the tip of your pinky toe, and the inner bar at the ball of your big toe. So the iron is at an angle. This way, you will allow your ankles to soften and flex and act like hinges.
The next puzzle piece is to ensure that your leathers are at the correct length. I cannot remember the exact knee angle you should have....I believe it is around a 40 to a 45 degree angle...correct me if I am wrong...this way, you can use your irons accordingly, so that when you are going over the fence, you aren't reaching for your toes and are allowing your heels and ankles to do their job.
Another puzzle piece is to allow your heels to do their job, which is anchor you. This is the key factor here, as I stated, it is about weight in heels. Allow your bodies weight to naturally flow from your head, down into your seat, and from there, down into your heels. You must allow that weight flow to occur, by opening your knees. Don't block that flow, allow it to occur. The moment you block, you destroy that flow and you prevent your heels from anchoring you into your tack.
Now that a picture is starting to form, the next puzzle piece to add, is proper calf placement on your horses side. You have to find your sweet spot. You don't want to use the inside of your calf, nor do you want to use the back of your calf, you want to find that in-between spot.
As George Morris says, you are wrapped around your horse, not just ontop. Proper foot placement in iron, correct leather length, open up your knees, allow heels to absorb bodies weight, proper calf placement on horses side, and wrap your lower leg around your horses girth.
Now, you have a correctly working lower leg - it's up to you to solidify it and strengthen it. TONS of Two Point Work, getting your seat slightly out of your tack, staying off of your horses back correctly - muscle memory. Staying balanced over your feet.
You can jump anything, if you have a solid lower leg.