Does anyone have any suggestions on how to keep one's toes in (like I mean parallel to the horse)? I'm always finding mine creeping out, especially at the canter; no matter how hard I try, they won't stay straight. Any ideas? Thanks!
Since you posted this in hunter/equitation and not dressage, I'll answer from that view point: It is not necessary for your toes to point straight, because it would be hard to use your leg correctly and you would loose the ability to keep yours ankles flexible. If your toes are parallel to the horse, it would draw your calf away from your horse. With your ankle flexed, toes should be pointed out about 20 - 30 degrees (and some will say up to 45 degrees).
When I started riding over 30 years ago toes were to point forward, which is how I still ride today out of habit. I tend to roll on my little toe a bit. I have noticed that many young riders do ride with their toes slightly out. I think if you have a strong, steady leg & seat, you can point your toes either way and still have good contact with your leg.
This is absolutely correct. What's important for a solid jumping leg is not where your toes are, it's where your calf/heel are. You want the inside of your calf touching the horse, not the back digging your heels in as so many people have the habit of doing. If you ride with your toes turned out so that your heel is digging into your horse 1) you aren't as secure as you could be and 2) you're going to be constantly driving your horse to go forward which will either make your horse run or become dead to the aids. I hear a lot of trainers say 'toes forward" and I don't htink they necessarily mean they have to be parallel. I think often they're trying to get a rider's heel out of their horse's side and/or to get them to ride off the inside of their calf.
I rode off the back of my calf for years and it's a terrible habit to fix! It took me a long time. :) but I'm glad that i took the time and energy to work on it because, despite feeling pretty secure before, I could tell that my body was so much more secure after fixing it. I did A LOT at the half seat/2pt. I did some without stirrups too but I found that since I was so used to gripping off the back of my calf it almost made it worse when my leg got tired. So the half seat was the best exercise for me. And I had my friend constantly tell me to fix my leg every time she saw me riding wrong. Just like any habit it just takes a complete retraining of your muscles. It will feel "wrong" or odd at first. THat's where you want to make sure you have good eyes on the ground to tell you when you're doing it right/wrong. And after a while your muscles will be used to be in the correct spot. Good luck!
Oh, and just to add.. make sure that when you're thinking "toes forward" that you do it by rolling the middle of your calf in, not by your ankles. If you twist your ankle under and put your weight on the outside of your feet to get your "toes forward" your ankles will not be happy with you!
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