HOW do I keep from gripping with my knees??
So I've started riding again, as some of you may know, and I've pretty much figured out that I haven't been riding correctly. I've always gotten sore right on my upper inner thigh, and my lower leg has always been criticized for slipping back when I jump. I'm pretty sure this is because I grip with my knees when I ride (or is it some other reason?). I may be entering a show on the 7th, so I'd like to start fixing this ASAP! Are there any exercises or tips for avoiding this? Plus it would be really nice not to be so sore there, I can barely walk the day after! :-|
Think about stretching up and open with your whole body. Even if your just sitting in a chair knees shoulder width apart if you leaning forward closing your hip angle your knees naturally want to come in, if you open your hip and shoulders it will be much easier for you to have your knees open as well.
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first get rid of your stirrups, then let your legs hang straight down, sit deep in your saddle until your pelvic area, lower back are "engaged" (you should be feeling your core). then drop your heels down. Get comfortable at the walk in this position once you have mastered the walk try the sitting then posting trot (yes w/o stirrups lol) DONT point your toes out. Use your back to guide your horse vs your knees.
Remember, too, that it takes time for the rider's body to change (yes, it does; ligaments & all) to accommodate a correct rider position. It takes years, perhaps, for that process to approach completion.
I went riding tonight again to try and work on this, and had a friend come with me to help me out. She said that I SHOULD be pointing my toes out a little more, so was she wrong? I was having trouble keeping my mare cantering around the corner so she had me go in my two point, keep a firm contact with my lower leg, point my toes kind of out and heels down, and then she cantered around the ring just fine after that.
I should definitely start working without stirrups, that's probably the best way to start getting in shape and breaking my habit of perching on the stirrup irons :?
As George Morris says "You are not ontop of your horse, you are wrapped around your horse"
You have to rethink your position while on your horse and you have to understand where your solidity comes from, when in your saddle.
First and foremost, your heels are very important in the whole grand scheme of things - they must beable to be your anchors. When we allow our heels to anchor us in our tack, we find that base of security, we find that solidity and we find that the rest of our body can be functional as well.
So, in order for our heels to be our anchors, you must allow our bodies natural weight flow, occur. That weight must beable to flow from our heads, down into our seat, and down into our heels. The moment we grip or pinch with our knees - we block that weight flow from occuring, so we loose that base of security in our lower leg.
So back to what GM says - start imagining yourself as being wrapped around your horse. Open up your knee's, get them off your tack, and allow that weight to flow down into your heels naturally, then wrap yourself around your horses girth.
Make sure your legs are under you, you are balanced over your feet. Open your knees and allow that weight to flow from head, into heels. Don't block it from occuring. Allow your heels to do their job :)
I disagree with your friend's advice to turn out your toes; just let them be to whatever turnout degree they naturally fall in, because then your leg is relaxed, as MIE discussed.
Just an imagery thing to think about - Hayley Beresford was doing clinics in Australia recently, and a Grand Prix dressage rider had the problem of gripping with the upper thighs. Hayley suggested she think about sitting on a Harley Davidson motorbike, knees and hips open, sitting back on your seat bones and allowing the power to drive up in front of you.
It worked for one of my students, so give it a go ;)
When I first got back into riding I had the same problem. I would grip with my knees so bad I would have little bruises on the inside of my knees. What I did was bring my stirrups up a hole and a half. It took awhile to get used to, but it help me feel more secure in the saddle. I've been back into riding for a year now, and my legs are a lot stronger I still have to have the thought in my head to hold on with my calf. It is a lot easier to hold on with my calf now, then it was a year ago. But I can sometimes feel my legs come off especially when I'm jumping.
I will admit, I rarely practiced without stirrups, but you should most definitely do no stirrup work, it will make you muscles stronger, faster. Also a lot of 2-point work helps.
Thank you so much for all the advice! This thread has REALLY helped me. I like the idea of letting it 'flow' all the way down and 'wrapping' myself around her girth. I'll also have to keep the thought my head for a while until it becomes unconscious, but that'll be a while. Unfortunately, I ride a crotch rocket motorcycle (which you grip with your knees), so the Harley thing doesn't work as well for me. :lol:
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