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-   -   lower leg/ heels problems. everyones opinion welcomed please comment! :) (http://www.horseforum.com/english-riding/lower-leg-heels-problems-everyones-opinion-129336/)

Fudgelove 07-02-2012 04:52 PM

lower leg/ heels problems. everyones opinion welcomed please comment! :)
 
Hey guys! So i have been riding for about 3 years and to give you a little background i started with a saddleseat trainer for 1 year and she tried to teach me hunt seat and well it didnt work well. But she was HUGE on EQ so i had an overall amazing position. Moving to my new trainer who does eventing and hunters she saw i was SUPER stiff and my horse knew nothing dressage wise and was crooked and all over the place from never being taught. So first i had to loosen up so she told me to "throw away" my eq for a while to work on Fudge. Of course i never rode sloppy just never as stiff and as focussed on eq as i was with him. So now hes pretty much fixed but ive noticed how much ive slipped. Here i go now into my problem. My lower leg jiggles too much for my liking and swings a tiny bit when i canter and i have trouble keeping my heels down as much as i would like and my toes need turned in a bit. My position is perfect in 2 point but my lower leg when im not is all over the place. If i grip a little more with it my horse just gets mad and when i loosen he slows. So thats my delema. Please give me all of your tips and tricks!! :) -Morgan<3

xJumperx 07-02-2012 05:10 PM

Well, lower leg is pretty hard to get still. But when you do get there, I must admit, it helps you heaps in all levels - flat classes, jumping classes ... you just overall get a much more neat and good picture. It is a sought after goal, though, though I do have some suggestions.
Heels down, toes up, really just comes with practice. Practice, practice, practice. Practice without your horse, even - sitting on the couch, playing on HF - keep your heels down. Working in the office - keep your heels down.
Standing in line - see if you can stand on your heels. Just practice, and you'll get there :) You won't even have to think about it, eventually.

Okay - as for lower leg. First off, you need to get your horse used to you gripping with your lower leg, (NOT knee! More on that later!) because that will not only make him more broke, but be your only way to really still that leg. So, during rides, 'hug' him with your leg. Don't have any intention to speed him up. Just hold your leg against his side. If he gets mad, and tries to speed up *at all* stop and back him. Stop, back three steps, then make him stand for 10 seconds. Never take your leg off. Then cue him to move off. There should be a diffirence. If you don't feel the diffirence in holding and squeezing your leg, you are holding too tight.

One that is taken care of, make sure you are moving with your horse well. The fact that you were stiff before might make this more of a challenge for you, but it will feel so much better once you get the hang of it. Rock your hips with the motion of your pony, just like you were on a rocking horse. When walking, try feeling which leg he reaches forward with without looking down. Just think to yourself, "left, right, left, right." This will require you to move with your hips, or you won't feel it.

If you are moving fluently with your horse, and holding with your legs, it's time to up the antee. Working out. Go to the gym, and do all the leg excersizes, taking breaks in between, doing something to work your core/abs. Both of these things will REALLY help your posture! For example, do the leg lifts, then do sit ups. Then do a different leg excersize, then a diff. core excersize. This is called super setting, and is the fastest way to build muscle.
When you can't make it to the gym, excersize at home! Every gym-less night, do 100 sit-ups and 100 leg-lifts. You will be well on your way to perfection!

Remember, horseback riding is a sport. It takes conditioning, and it takes work. I'm sure you've figured that out by now ;)
I've been riding for 8 years, but only started working out within the past 3. I already had all the other bases (heels down, relaxed in the saddle, holding with my legs) but still had a little twitchy leg. After 3 years of working out, I came to this result - and it's still not perfect -

EDIT: Holy cow, that ended up long!! Hope you got some good stuff outta there xD Ignore the intro of the video, with his name and such. I posted the same video for critique a while back. Anything you see now is much appreciated, as always :)

Fudgelove 07-02-2012 05:29 PM

Thanks! I'll be sure to try it all! Im making a big list so please everyone comment! :)

emeraldstar642 07-03-2012 03:26 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by xJumperx (Post 1577639)
Okay - as for lower leg. First off, you need to get your horse used to you gripping with your lower leg, (NOT knee! More on that later!) because that will not only make him more broke, but be your only way to really still that leg. So, during rides, 'hug' him with your leg. Don't have any intention to speed him up. Just hold your leg against his side. If he gets mad, and tries to speed up *at all* stop and back him. Stop, back three steps, then make him stand for 10 seconds. Never take your leg off. Then cue him to move off. There should be a diffirence. If you don't feel the diffirence in holding and squeezing your leg, you are holding too tight.

... I must disagree with this. Gripping with with your legs restricts your horse and makes it uncomfortable for him. Teaching him to get used to it will not make your horse 'more broke' because generally horses are not supposed to be ridden that way. It simply is not correct. Leg contact is supposed to be very light yet steady. When you ask him to move forwards, it should only have to be a gentle nudge. Imagine someone wrapping a tight belt around your stomach and whenever you needed to go faster they would crank it even tighter. You get no breaks, no rewards (as in, releasing pressure/breaks), and the tight belt is only gone once the ride is over. You can see how that would make a horse sour and irritable... and it wouldn't be his fault.

Also gripping is not the only way to get a steady lower leg. It is perfectly possible to have light contact and a still lower leg; it just takes time and practice. And if you constantly ride with a gripping leg, it teaches your horse to become numb to leg cues. On the other hand. having a light and steady leg teaches your horse to become alert and responsive to your aids. Which would you rather have? A quick fix that is uncomfortable for your horse or hard work to get to effective results?


OP, what I would suggest is doing a lot of riding exercises. The muscle will come with time and practice. Make sure you do not grip with your knees. I had the problem of an unsteady for quite a while as well. I fixed it through constant riding and lots or practice, and thanks to all that hard work I am now able to keep light contact and a steady leg. Do tons of no stirrups work, trotting exercises (like posting up for 2 beats and down for one), and standing up in the saddle while moving to drop all the weight down into your heels but not leaning on the neck. For the last one, if you trust your horse enough, you can knot your reins and put your arms out to the sides like airplanes (although I wouldn't suggest doing this at anything more than a walk or trot). Practice makes perfect. There's no real shortcut here, you just need to keep working at it. Good luck! :D

xJumperx 07-03-2012 03:58 PM

Quote:

Leg contact is supposed to be very light yet steady.
This is what I meant :) Sorry if my word choice confused you - I do mean a light, constant feel with your leg on the horse. The reason I threw it in there was I was not sure if the OP was holding her leg off the horse intentionally, in order to keep him from being upset. I shouldn't have used gripping, but I just meant simply relax your legs, and have them to his sides. By the way the OP put it, I had a feeling she was holding them off. So we are talking about the same thing, just using diffirent words ;)
Quote:

The muscle will come with time and practice. Make sure you do not grip with your knees.
I also agree with this ...
Quote:

What would you rather have? A quick fix that is uncomfortable for your horse or hard work that will get results?
Excuse me, but my horse is not dead sided, uncomfortable, sour, OR irratable. I think you only say this because you think I am squeezing too tight, which will cause this, but I am not. So don't make those accusations about my horse. I think I would know if I was holding too tightly and making him uncomfortable. And as you can tell from my post, I have worked /very/ hard to get where I am at.

Quote:

...knot your reins and put your arms out to the sides like airplanes (although I wouldn't suggest doing this at anything more than a walk or trot). Practice makes perfect. There's no real shortcut here, you just need to keep working at it.
Love this suggestion!! And the fact about no shortcuts :p lol, if there were shortcuts in the horse world, everyone would do it, right ;) And if you can, I would jump with airplane arms too - excellent for getting that solid base, without relying on the horse's neck.

4everiding 07-03-2012 05:28 PM

I know this sounds weird, but at the halt stand in your stirrups without balancing on your horse at all. Look down at your lower leg, that's where it should be. If you focus on lower leg position your legs won't swing nearly as much. I used to have the same problem, but as soon as I lengthened my stirrups and focused on my lower leg placement, my legs stopped swinging.
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tinyliny 07-03-2012 05:44 PM

do you think you could post a video, so we could see YOU ride and not discuss things based solely on principle, but based on what YOU are doing?

emeraldstar642 07-03-2012 08:07 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by xJumperx (Post 1579190)
This is what I meant :) Sorry if my word choice confused you - I do mean a light, constant feel with your leg on the horse. The reason I threw it in there was I was not sure if the OP was holding her leg off the horse intentionally, in order to keep him from being upset. I shouldn't have used gripping, but I just meant simply relax your legs, and have them to his sides. By the way the OP put it, I had a feeling she was holding them off. So we are talking about the same thing, just using diffirent words ;)



Excuse me, but my horse is not dead sided, uncomfortable, sour, OR irratable. I think you only say this because you think I am squeezing too tight, which will cause this, but I am not. So don't make those accusations about my horse. I think I would know if I was holding too tightly and making him uncomfortable. And as you can tell from my post, I have worked /very/ hard to get where I am at.

Ohhhh, that makes much more sense. :-) And I wasn't accusing your horse of being dead sided, uncomfortable, sour, or irritable. I simply meant those could be the long-term eventual results of a horse being ridden in such away. Just so that's cleared up. :-P

xJumperx 07-04-2012 07:33 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by emeraldstar642 (Post 1579520)
Ohhhh, that makes much more sense. :-) And I wasn't accusing your horse of being dead sided, uncomfortable, sour, or irritable. I simply meant those could be the long-term eventual results of a horse being ridden in such away. Just so that's cleared up. :-P

Aha, okay :) Sorry, it was MY turn to misunderstand! Glad we could come to a consensus. Just got a little defensive over my pony :oops: It's kind of natural ... But happy trails! ;)

rascalboy 07-04-2012 01:12 PM

I'm going to tell you something that might shock you: most of use don't like hunter's positions.
There, I said it. :)
EQ is really just where the rider sits 'pretty'. It doesn't actually mean you're in an effectivve position. It's actually ok for your legs to 'jiggle'. I'm not sure if you've noticed, but your horse's back and belly actually swing when he walks. (Watch him from the ground though, since a lot of hunter's horses are too stiff and actually don't swing through the back at all). If you are moving with the horse, then you're actually resisting the movement.
And guess what? You don't need heels down and toes out. Dressage people cringe when they see that. You understand that when the heels are down, it tightens the leg. Add that with "toes out", and you really have a problem. You put constant pressure on the horse's sides, essentially deadening them. Sitting in that position makes the horse stiff because you are unable to allow the back to swing. You also stiffen your knee and lock the hip, further impairing your ability to follow the horse's movement.
I would suggest something crazy: let your legs loosen, follow the movement, make your heels level with your toes, and turn your toes IN by rolling your foot so your weight is on your outside toes, not your big toe (this creates a level foot). You don't actually need heels down to keep your stirrup in place. The weight of your foot alone keeps the stirrup in place. You can even jump like that. Crazy right?
And moving onto your two-point... Most EQ two-points really suck for real riding. A lot of hunters haul those heels down, latch onto the horse with their legs so they don't fall off when they plant their hands on the mane and lounge on their horse's neck while posing prettily.
If you watch high level eventers or jumpers, you'll notice that their leg positions and posture look nothing like a lot of hunter's positions. That's because hunter positions don't really work for big jumps.
You actually have to move with the horse. You do not lean forward until the horse's legs are off the ground and you are 'popped' out of the saddle. Otherwise you're ahead of the horse. You should be balanced. If the horse disappeared from under you, you ought to be able to land on your feet. Most people wouldn't be able to do that.
Anywho, if you're really concerned with learning to work with your horse, go get a decent dressage trainer. If you really don't care and like how your horse is working now, then I'd say you're in good shape.


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