Heels down, toes pointed in...Is it really that important??
I had this new instructor a while ago, and she was sort of naggiing me to point my toes inwards. But see, I'm kind of short, and I can't exactly point my toes in and keep my heels down at the same time. And keeping my toes pointed in also makes my leg slide back when I jump. So is it really that importent to point my toes in?
It's definitely important in an equitation class and for your all-around riding. It makes it easier to just use your calf for aids and not your heel every time, especially if you wear spurs. Being short shouldn't make that big of a difference. I used to point my toes out like wings until I purposely rode pigeon-toed. It was really hard and it hurt at first, but now it comes naturally. You just have to work at it.
It's not so much toes in and calf on the horses side. If your toes are pointed out, you are most likely using the back of your leg and heels to squeeze in stead of having a stable leg and squeezing with the inside of your calf
Alright. I guess I've got some work to do! :)
And thanks for the quick reply!
If your toes do not want to seem to point in - you can exaggerate the cue and actually grab the back of your thigh with your hand and roll your whole leg onto the horse. The purpose is when your leg relaxes, it should be in the correct position.
Broadly speaking when riding English your stirrups are used
mostly to keep the feet still - as against with Western where they are used to support part of the weight of the rider. Partly the heel is kept down and the toe up so as to help avoid losing the stirrup iron.
The idea of keeping the foot parallel with the body of the horse is to roll the thigh muscle, and to a lesser extent the calf muscle, round to the correct position against the horse.
As your skills and muscles develop the thigh muscle becomes more and more important when giving the horse an aid -eg just a squeeze will instruct the horse to move on.
English riding is all about the muscles in the area of the pelvis - which is why Pilates exercises are so useful.
Your instructor should be able to place your leg in the correct position around the saddle and in the stirrups, which then you will have to learn to adopt at all times
It all comes good with practice but it is very important that you start from the correct position of the leg in the stirrup
with you sitting upright on the three seat bones - hence the need for the instructor - you can't see from where you are sitting if your leg position is correct or if your leg moves when you are trotting.
If you are having difficulty keeping the heels down ie that you have to force them down, then first check the length of your stirrups leathers maybe they are too long?
Also perhaps your hamstring or calf muscles may need lossening up - again do Pilates stretching exercies
Getting the leg and seat position right is the key to the sitting trot.
it took me 3 years to get my leg position right and keep my toes in. I found it really hard but now it just comes naturally and i also now realise how important it is. Getting your legs and seat position right really helps!
One way that helped me was to imagine i was trying to touch my toes together underneath the horse. This kept my legs wrapped around the horse, my toes in and my heels down. If you find you dont have the flexiability to keep your heels down, stand on the bottom step of your stairs and just let your heels drop. Over time your muscles will stretch and it will get easier. Also, lift your heels and then let them drop to strengthen your ankle.
I'm not sure what you mean by "toes in". Your toes should be facing the direction you are going, as in pointed strait, not turned in towards the horse. And don't think of it as "heels down", think of it as, putting weight into your heels. A mistake alot of people make is to pull there toes up in order to get their heels down. Make sure you are pushing your heels down with your weight, not lifting your toes up. I'm not sure if that makes sence the way I wrote it, but it's in your distribution of your weight...
Maybe she keeps saying toes in because your toes are going outward (like to the right on your right, to the left on your left?)- it is important, though. :) I'm sure you'll get the hang of it, just keep practicing!
Some people greatly over exaggerate the toes in thing. If you have a good base in your heels down contact with the calf and proper pelvis angle your toes will follow suit. I remember when I first started riding people wanted this really false toes in to the point of hurting my ankles look in equitation classes. My new trainer (although I just do jumpers so its kind of function over look) says preserve your ankles and don't stress on over exaggeration.
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