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dreamrideredc 01-15-2011 09:22 PM

Trouble keeping calves on?
 
Hi everyone,

I'm a fairly tall rider, 5'7 or so, and my horse is 15.2. I have trouble keeping my lower calf on, and I'm wondering if it's because my legs are so long...? They reach to about the bottom of my horse's belly, maybe a little above, and since a horse's belly is round, it narrows towards the bottom. Since my legs are so long I'm wondering if I can't keep them on because the belly gets slimmer...gosh I'm having a really hard time explaining this, am I making any sense? :-|

Well if you understood that, do you think thats possible or do you think it's just because my legs are weak? Maybe I need muscle memory? I don't really think it is the first one because I always thought that long legs were a good trait for riding because you could wrap them around more and support your horse. But it wouldn't be the first time I was wrong!

Not that I can really do anything about it if it's the first cause, just curious :wink:

Hope you can give me some advice based off of my poor description, if I need to try and make it clearer let me know!

Thank you! :-)

beau159 01-15-2011 11:44 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by dreamrideredc (Post 891282)
Hi everyone,

I'm a fairly tall rider, 5'7 or so, and my horse is 15.2. I have trouble keeping my lower calf on, and I'm wondering if it's because my legs are so long...? They reach to about the bottom of my horse's belly, maybe a little above, and since a horse's belly is round, it narrows towards the bottom. Since my legs are so long I'm wondering if I can't keep them on because the belly gets slimmer...gosh I'm having a really hard time explaining this, am I making any sense? :-|

Well if you understood that, do you think thats possible or do you think it's just because my legs are weak? Maybe I need muscle memory? I don't really think it is the first one because I always thought that long legs were a good trait for riding because you could wrap them around more and support your horse. But it wouldn't be the first time I was wrong!

Not that I can really do anything about it if it's the first cause, just curious :wink:

Hope you can give me some advice based off of my poor description, if I need to try and make it clearer let me know!

Thank you! :-)

I understand what you are trying to say.

But you don't actually WANT to keep your calves "on" your horse all the time. Your calves should only be making detectable contact when you are cueing your horse to do something.

When's the last time you rode bareback? What happens when you constantly try to keep your calves on all the time (and "wrap" your legs around them like you stated)? Well, what happens is that is does NOT work very well at all!!! Your calves and feet are kind of the balance points for your body. You should be maintaining constant contact with your thighs, because that's what holds yourself on!

As far as you being too tall for your horse, I don't think that is the issue unless you have really really long legs for your body build, then it *might* be. I am between 5'6" and 5'7" and I have no trouble with my calves when I ride my mother's horse who is 15.2 hands.

On the other hand, if you are taller for your horse like that, it really shouldn't make a difference. Look at professional barrel racer and world champion Sherry Cervi and her horse Stingray. Sherry is over 6 feet fall and Stingray is only 14.2 hands. And barrel racing at that level very much so requires leg cues to keep your horse off the barrels or tighten up the backside -- that's legs, not reins.

You just have to learn to adapt to your horse and do what you need to do to make them understand your cues and their meaning.

The other thing to consider is your WHOLE body posture -- not just your calves. Are you keeping your heels down? Are you sitting straight up when you ride? Are you in good alignment with heels, hips, and ear? Your body works together to cue your horse, so if one part is "out" there might be something else "out" too.

Do you have any pictures or videos of you riding, so we can maybe see what is really going on?

Can you describe specific instances when you feel you cannot keep your calves on?

dreamrideredc 01-16-2011 09:45 AM

Thank you so much for your reply! I didn't think the problem was that either, and I wouldn't really consider myself too tall for him, just long legged :wink:

Anyway, I don't have any trouble really except at the trot. He is extremely smooth so it's not like his movement is bouncing me around. I looked at a pic the other day of when we were going over trot poles and my leg was snug and in picture perfect position (in 2-pt). I do have a right ankle problem (unknown about what it is) that prevents me from keeping a good left leg (will be getting it checked out soon). Oh, and weird as it is, one day I'll get on and my legs are wonderfully snug, and the next day their like noodles...:-| That sorta has led me to believe that I need to strengthen them. And we are working on TONS of body posture in lessons, so that could help too.

Thanks again!! :-)

dreamrideredc 01-16-2011 09:55 PM

Anyone else? Oh, and forgot to mention that I'm an English rider :wink:

wren 01-17-2011 08:21 PM

My horse is 16h, and I'm 5'8ish. i was also having lots of trouble keeping my calf on when i wanted it there. It was affecting our canter and jumping some. My trainer and i finally figured out it wasn't the length of my leg, but the barrel of my horse! he's taller, but very slim in the barrel. I'm still trying to work through it.
Not really any advice, just wanted to let you know you are not alone.

dreamrideredc 01-17-2011 09:54 PM

Yeah that makes sense too! My horse is slim, so maybe that could be it :wink: Oh well, I'm sure working on muscle memory and strengthening my legs will help a lot! When I hacked today I noticed if I held my leg in the right postition I didn't really notice it...so maybe it's a combo of both?

dreamrideredc 01-19-2011 06:22 PM

I looked at a pick and it looks like the deal is that his belly slims out/narrows towards the bottom more than some horses, and because I have longer legs it's hard to grip. I really only have trouble with the bottom half of my calf becuase my upper calf and leg is on well. Because I obviously cannot change the way he is built what would you recommend doing to help? Do you think I just need to learn muscle memory? When I'm walking or in two point and am centered (where I'm supposed to be always :wink:) I don't have a problem. Come to think of it I don't have a problem at the canter either...So jumping and posting trot is when I have the problem. Both are the parts of riding I have the most trouble with concerning my postion. So is it a matter of just improving my overall position? Learning muscle memory? Or is it just something I'll have to work around? Thanks!! :-)

beau159 01-19-2011 06:26 PM

How often are you riding a week?

How often do you have lessons? How long each time?

How long HAVE you been riding?

How long have you been riding THIS horse?

(Asking these to answer your muscle memory questions.)

dreamrideredc 01-19-2011 06:42 PM

About three times a week.

One lesson a week, an hour long.

About seven years.

Four years almost five.

BUT, I'm taller now, so I'm wondering if I need to learn the muscle memory for my new height...my trainer has been working on strengthening my leg and stabilizing it with me. And yes, she is the one that brought up his belly so she is aware of this :wink:

beau159 01-19-2011 06:59 PM

Well you don't instantly grow a few inches in a couple days or anything, so I don't think recent growth would be the issue if you are always riding on a regular basis. Because your muscle memory should change slowly as you grow slowly.

But.... you have muscle memory ONLY for what you actually do. So, if you always ride with bad posture, you will have muscle memory for bad posture (not saying you do; just an example). And you will have to make consious decisions and observation to change the muscles to have new memory.

Have you always had this problem with this horse the past 4-5 years? If so, that's what is in your muscle memory. And you'll have to work to change it.

Are you bobbling around before/after the jump and when you are trotting (like you are having trouble keeping your balance)?

Or is it simply a matter that you can't cue your horse with your calves and/or are accidentally cueing your horse b/c your calves aren't stable?

Either way, I am thinking it is just going to take time to change this "bad habit" (as we technically could call it that). And you may never feel like you perfectly have perfect calf-contact because his anatomy is different from every other horse (because every horse is different) so no horse is going to "feel" the same with calf contact.

Does that make sense?


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