why keep heels down?
I just started taking hunt seat lessons this spring, and I know that I am supposed to keep my heels down, but I am not sure why. I know this is Point One that gets drilled into any new English rider's head, and I am sure there are really good reasons for it...but I have no idea what they are.
Insights from you more experienced folk?
If you heal is down, you have less of chance falling off. It helps keeps your leg in the correct place on the horse.
If your toes are the ones pointed down your upper body will be pulled forward and down as well, understandably if you're pulled forward you are not in the correct position and you are also off balance.
That's a general explination but it's the main reason I know of.
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This is actaully a super hard question! I've never really thought about it before but I'll give it a go :)
When you're riding you want a straight line from shoulder, to hip, to heel. This creates a low centre of balance. This gives you maximum security in the saddle thus creating better chances of staying on if things go bad. If your heels are up, usually you are gripping with your knees. This means you are not secure in the saddle (especaily over fences this is noticable). To compensate for the lack of security in your leg, your shoulders/upper body come forward to try to balance yourself.
Basically, it not only looks nice, but also makes you a more secure, therefore more effective rider. :)
I'd give a couple of reasons:
1 - It makes the foot less likely to slip thru the stirrup.
2 -Toes down means you are grasping for the stirrup, and it is tough to do that with a relaxed leg. FWIW, I tend to think of heels down as toes up, because toes up help me keep a relaxed leg.
Heels down is not a hard and fast rule. Some people's ankles just don't have much give. If getting the heel down creates tension in your leg, then it may not be worth it. And I don't do jumping, so it may all be different if you jump.
Its very important to keep heels down, especially in huntseat because if your weight isn't in your heels you begin to be more forward, sometimes so forward you fall onto your horses neck or worse, on the ground.
I haven't ridden hunt seat in ages, but even as a western rider the same basic principles apply. The best explanation I've heard was as a kid. Your heels are your anchor. A solid anchor steadies the boat and can keep it in place even in choppy water. It's a silly reference but it made sense at 5 and still makes sense at 30. :)
Thanks, everyone! This makes a lot of sense - especially about the balance.
My instructor did also say to think about it as pressing the top (not the tip) of my toe up against the top of my boot. That actually helped me a lot, because my calves are definitely pretty tight!
Im going to try posting again, my last one had alot of symbols.
If your heels are not down you get to be to forward since your weight is not in your heels. you may end up falling on to your horses neck or onto the ground.
Stand on your toes and have someone push you and see what happens....
Then stand and push your heals toward the ground and have someone push you and see what happens ;)
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