Riding western, using leg cues, how to build up calf muscles?
I am an older re-beginner. I have found that I am obviously going to have to build up my calf muscles, because by the end of my hour lesson, I have no strength left in my calves! :?
Any ideas on exercises to build up those muscles when not riding?
Toe lifts. Stand on the bottom step of a stair with just the ball of your foot-toes on and go on your tippy toes, then down, tippy toes and down, etc.
Squats on your tippy toes
Up and down stairs
Cycling with your heels down
Squeezing an exercise ball with your knees and keeping your heels stretched down.
The secret though is that riding isn't about strength (I have the weakest calves in existence) but about how attentive your horse is to your signals. So no worries about getting super strong legs.. you'll do great riding if you just keep at it :) Remember to drink lots of water!
Take your feet out of the stirrups and ride like that.
Or ride bareback.
What I do is before my lesson I warm up bareback. I get Selena out of the pasture,t ake off her blanket, and do about fifteen or twenty minutes of bareback only before I put the saddle on and then go to my lesson. At first you may only be able to walk, but eventually you'll get comfortable enough to trot, then lope, then maybe even run a barrel pattern (I never never EVER thought I would be able to run the barrels bareback, but now I can and I can do it pretty comfortably)
May I ask how old are you? If you are older by my calculations, then you might not be as comfortable with riding stirrup less or bareback, something Sorrelhorse might not think of, since she is young and spry (aren't you SH?).
It is good advice but if that's not in the cards for you, then consider somethig else.
First of all, I think you might be tightening muscles that you shouldn't be , because one should not be tired in the calf muscles by the end of an hour lesson. What are you doing that is making them tired? I mean, you should be riding from your seat primarily, (certainly at the walk and sitting trot, or canter) . If you are posting the trot, it's possible that your calf muscle might get tired, especially if you are not used to riding.
But for the most part, that muscle should not be used all that much. For getting the hrose to move you do not want to be "squeezing" so much as you want to be "plumping". I mean , think of the hrose like a pillow that you plump with your ankles. Don't squeeaze , you kind of flutter your lower leg against the hrose..
If that doesnt' get some action, then you need to carry a whip or take the long tail ends of the reins if there are long ends, and give the hrose a good swat. First ask nicely, then bob with you ankles, then swat with the whip or long rein ends.
If your calves are tired, you are doing too much work down below. Sit down in the saddle on your seatbones, relax , let the weight go down into you heels (don't force it) and plump that pillow of a hrose to get him to go!
My girl told me to squinch up my butt cheeks when climbing stairs, and I took a pair of old boots and taped 2x4 blocks to the balls of the feet.
I walked stairs in those contraptions for a month, about 30 mins a day.
I now hate stairs, but have calves and buns of titanium!
I don't know , you just strike me as spry. Spryer than me, that's for sure.
Blocks on your feet ? up and down stairs? Sounds like a recipe for broken bones from falling down stairs. (which happens to be one of the most common ways people break bones)
LOL, Tiny, I'll get a video of me trying to get on a horse taller than 13.3hh and then we'll see if you think I'm spry.....:rofl: :rofl: It really is pathetic.... I never mastered vertical...:lol:
Last time I mounted from the ground, I couldn't even get on an Icelandic. It's mounting blocks for me. I can barely get on 17hh Zulu from a tall mounting block.
It's like a California Sea Lion trying to get on.
or maybe a three toed sloth.
All the other 16 year old girls can just hop right on any horse...No problems....I hide behind my truck at shows and ungracefully haul myself on from my tail gate. :lol: [I'm going to be the most pathetic old person ever. Seriously :rofl:]
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