Tips to keep feet "planted" in the stirrups? [Beginner Rider]
During my last lesson, I'm not sure why but I kept having issues with keeping my feet planted in my stirrups. My feet weren't slipping out of the stirrups but instead further in them. Falling off a horse doesn't scare me (too much...if it happens I'm sure it'll freak me out xD) but if I fall and my foot gets stuck I'm not going to be a happy camper. Occasionally in other lessons I'd have a little slip up here and there but not as bad as what was happening yesterday. Now yesterday I felt really off because I kept slipping up around the corners of the arena...to the point where I was SO focused on my feet that I kept forgetting to steer. Of course every time I slipped up in the stirrups, I pulled my mount to a halt and readjusted. I'm just trying to figure out if:
a.) I had an "off" day because normally I don't have issues (or very few) concerning slipping up like that.
b.) My stirrups are too short (I've had a few people comment that my stirrups should go up a couple notches).
c.) I'm just still a beginner that has a ton to learn.
Picture to see where my stirrups are-
Now my instructor always has me keep my stirrups down to that length so part of me thinks that where my stirrups are shouldn't be the issue and it's caused by rider fault.
Also, when my feet slip up are when:
a.) I have to "kick" my stubborn mount to have her go
b.) corners during the canter (like when I have to keep her pressed up to the canter)
c.) (yesterday was the FIRST time this slip up happened) I slipped up during the few strides between jumps. As in, I hopped over a cross rail and had a few strides between the next jump and my feet slipped up.
Again, I'm sure this is rider error--so I'm looking for some advice to fix this. I will be talking about this with my instructor this upcoming Tuesday so I can address it as soon as possible but in the meanwhile, I figured I'd at least get some advice so I can have an idea of what I need to do.
Two things would be my guesses. One, you're stirrups are too long. And second, you are "grabbing" or squeezing your heels to the horse to stay on, instead of using your thighs.
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C) beginner with lots to learn-- final answer.
If you got to think about stirrups more than the lesson- its the stirrups-- you should be able to stand and only fit 4 fingers (make your hand flat- thumb up) between your crotch and saddle area- if theres more room than that- the stirrups too long.
All you need to remember is keep the grips on the balls of your feet- heels pointed down (not to where it hurts your calves) enough to keep the stirrups from going anywhere and where your comfortable riding.
If that aint the problem id check the irons for the grips at the bottom (rubber piece) that can cause the irons to slip around.
A not so uncommon problem..I had the same issue and still do on occasion :). Check your leather length...the bottom of the iron should be even with your ankle bone. Keeping heels down prevents that forward slip. If your heels are up your foot goes forward..at the same time if your heels are up you are most likely going to be leaning forward from your entire upper body and your legs are following..think of a teeter totter.
You want to be sitting almost vertical and think of your legs as pins squeezing toothpaste out of the tube. Use your calves and let your weight sink into your heels. The iron should be even with the girth if that gives a better picture of your leg...there should also be a straight line (hard to see when mounted) from your hip down to your heel.
In the pic it looks like you are resting your hands on the horse's neck in the post..that could also be an issue (it is anyway but for now we are looking at heels) as you are probably pushing yourself up with your hands which doesn't help you maintain contact with your calf. You want your hands up off the horse's neck and use your calf to work the post.
Try this (On a quiet horse :) )..put the reins in one and put the other one behind your back..then post. This tends to put people in the proper position just out of sheer requirement. Once you have balance like that, go back to using both hands and try to duplicate the feeling. This is a good exercise over ground poles as well and also includes holding your arms out to the sides as you post and do ground poles. In other words, your hands need to be independent of your legs.
Also, it looks to me like you balance a LOT on your reins, and lean forwards quite a bit because of it in most of your photos. Those two things cause your legs to tip back, your toes to go forwards, and your foot to slip into the stirrup irons. Try using your core and thighs more to post at the trot, and to move with your horse at the canter. Have you had any stirrupless lunge line lessons yet?
I feel you are pinching with your knee which is why you are having issues keeping weight down your leg into your stirrups.
I found that when learning I would tense and hold myself with my legs wrapped around the horse, which brang my legs up a bit more, and therefore I lost my stirrup - I needed to keep myself wrapped around the horse BUT lengthen and stretch my leg around not 'cling and hang on for dear life'. Also by doing this I was bringing my heels up, another thing I had to work on by lengthening my leg and stretching it down and around the horse, I found it helped me keep my heels down.
I'll post a picture of me which is a few months old to show you what I mean. Hope this helps, sorry if it is confusing.
It takes a while to practise and get it to show up but eventually it comes as easily as rise trot (something which is usually very hard for beginners but becomes second nature - I work at a riding school as Team Manager so see alot of beginners, as well as having riding lessons myself)
Sorry read your post wrong, thought you were reffering to loosing your stirrups caused by not enough leg extension on your behalf.
When weight is not getting down the leg, then stirrups will move out of their -ball of foot- position.
I'll say it isn't because your stirrups are too long, since I keep mine to where I can only get a finger (maybe 2 tops) between my crotch and the saddle. I don't jump, so I don't have the need to get as far out:
Some things to think about - or maybe ask your instructor about -
1 - What are your stirrups/boots made of? I need rubber on at least one of them. Leather sole boots on rubber pad, or rubber soled boots on bare metal.
2 - Where exactly is your foot in the stirrup? If my foot is a little too far back, then I'll subconsciously point my toe to 'hold them' on my foot. Changing the position of the stirrup by as little as a half inch, or angling it differently, can stop me from doing this.
3 - Watch pinching with the knee. I often need to make a conscious, thought-out effort to spread my knees. As the years go by, it is becoming less of a problem for me, but pinching with my knees was a HUGE problem when I started. As a variation, I am also capable of pinching with my thighs, pushing me up out of the saddle slightly and making me point my toes to 'catch' my stirrups.
4 - Bracing with the leg will cause bouncing, and bouncing tends to make you point your toes to keep the stirrups.
Those are some of the problems I've had over the last 5 years. I'm sure there are others. Good luck, and talk to your instructor!
Edit to add 5: If my balance gets too forward, I'll also point my toes.
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