Keeping heels down
I've been in lessons for over half a year, I consistently have trouble keeping my heels down. My riding instructor tied my stirrup irons to my girth so i couldnt move my feet, and of course it was very uncomfortable, and we did jumping that lesson and i nearly fell as it knocked off my balance. Id like to try to improve as much as I can so i dont have to go through that again, We are working on my jumping form, and i am doing better, but my last lesson I also had trouble balancing and came close to falling more than once, even though my stirrups were not tied. any advice?
Do lots of two-point (or jumping position...) Put all your weight in your heals and really stretch that muscle. My trainer always says to pretend your toes are lazer beams shooting at the horses ears... Try it, It works and its easy to think about. :P
Have you tried working on strengthening and becoming more flexible at the ankle out of the saddle? Some good exercises out of the saddle... stand on the edge of a step, just your toes on and your heel hanging off, slowly rise up and down letting your heel go as low as you can comfortably hold it for a few seconds and then up on your tippy toes. Over time gradually increase the time you hold it and how many times you go up and down. Lunges are good for stretching your calves out and good for your balance and ankle strength the longer you hold it. I know there are more, maybe google it :)
I would try some non-stirrup work. :) It really helps- stretch your leg down while opening your calf, & pretend you are reaching for the ground (that's what my trainer always tells me). :D It really works!
do lots of work standing tall in your stirrups and no stirrup work.... even if its just at a walk, stand tall in your stirrups for as long as you can then go no stirrups, try a nice slow sitting trot at first. you will get it and any exercises as suggested will help a ton
I totally agree with all of the above suggestions. Like lovemyponies said, stand up in your stirrups and stretch your heels down as far as they can go. Then sit back down slowly, without moving your heel. That is exactly where your leg position needs to be.
Oh, and remember to keep your toes pointing forward too. :wink:
Stand on the bottom step of any set of stairs, and as if your feet were in the stirrups, stretch your heels downward towards the floor. Hold it there for about five seconds, then stand on your toes - Heels facing upward - for about two seconds and repeat this process. This breaks in tall boots excellently and will also give you a stronger, more secure heel that will almost always stay down.
Hope I helped. :-)
No stirrup work will help a lot if you as long as you don't slack off and let your leg slide into an incorrect position.
On a side note - tieing your stirrups to your girth is dangerous as you can't move your leg if you need it (rear, buck, etc).
Try d'angles stirrup pads.
Jump For Joy
It worked well for me. And improved my balance over jumps 100 fold the first time I used them. You'll feel the stretch to. It hurts a little at first but you get used to it real quick.
They sorta work like training wheels (or training heels, lol). After riding with them for a while you can go back to flat pads and still ride just as well.
You can even use them at shows. Or at least I can. I've only gone to schooling and C rated shows. You might want to consult the rule book for A and B shows.
Try doing some work without stirrups. You might also want to go into your 2 point position for a while to get the feel of your heels down. My instructor would always tell me after I got out of my 2 point position to keep the same stretch in my heel that I felt while I was in my 2 point position. This worked well for me.
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