lessons: dressage vs. "plain English" - Page 8 - The Horse Forum
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post #71 of 113 Old 09-15-2013, 01:44 PM
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Your toe does not CONTROL your thigh. You toe is an INDICATOR of your thigh, although an imprecise one. And while toes front may be right for dressage, it apparently is NOT right for many other styles of riding. That is because your thighs affect your seat, but your toes do not. When my left & right thigh are in the same position, my left & right feet are not. My left always points out 15-20 deg more than my right. And that is true standing in the shower or out jogging on our trails - and I've got 55 years of experience doing that (40+ for jogging)!

Most beginners told to point their toes forward do so by stiffening and twisting their lower leg, while doing nothing with their thighs. You don't collect a horse by its head, and you don't improve your seat with your toes.

But you can improve your seat by changing your toes I have done exactly that. Toes are connected to seat so of course changing one changes the other.
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post #72 of 113 Old 09-15-2013, 02:50 PM
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Clava has already said what I wanted too
I can only add that every part of our body hinges onto another part and when you change the position on just one thing it will have a knock on effect on everything else and make those parts either work better or reduce the effect they have.
Its something that you see mostly though when you want to do something more than sit (or stick on) a horse and trail ride.
You cant expect to get results and ease of a new position overnight and for older riders it may never be possible if they have joint problems such as arthritis
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post #73 of 113 Old 09-15-2013, 04:36 PM
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Moving your toe will affect your ankle. Your ankle can affect your calf. Your toe will not affect your thigh, but your thigh will affect your toe because it is 'upstream'. So your toe can indicate how your thigh is resting against the horse, but turning your toe will not turn your thigh. If you disagree, rotate your toe while keeping your thigh still against your horse. It is easy.

Turning your toe straight ahead will tend to cost you contact because it will pull the ankle out. That is probably a good thing for dressage. It apparently is not a good thing for jumping, and for a secure forward seat. In many western saddles, it simply would not matter because the saddle will prevent constant contact between calf and horse.

I realize I'm writing as an old guy who took up riding late. That isn't all bad. Unlike many young teens who learn, I wanted to know the reason WHY for everything. And something that I like about the Cavalry manual and someone like VS Littauer is that they explain exactly WHY doing something helps for their activity, rather than claim it is the only way to ride.

The guy who wrote the final Cavalry manual was generally considered one of the finest horseman the US Cavalry ever produced. So when someone says you must have your toes forward to sit well on a horse...I'm not the only one throwing the BS flag. And the instructors who tell their students to get their toes forward, without understanding what it may cost the student, do no favors to their horses or students.

I think it was our fellow poster Foxhunter who told me I should reach behind me, grab the rear of my thigh and twist my thigh to get it twisted as far to the front as I could, particularly near the beginning of a ride. THAT is good advice. But I guarantee you that I, like many other students, can twist my toes forward without it having ANY effect on my thigh.

Again - anyone who disagrees can go sit on a horse and practice rotating their toes without moving their thigh. If my aging, jogging-stiffened legs can do it, anyone can. "Toes forward" is like "headset" - it focuses on the irrelevant while ignoring the critical.

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post #74 of 113 Old 09-16-2013, 09:42 AM
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Sorry bsms - but there is no way that I can move my toe direction either standing, sitting on a horse or sitting on a chair without it altering the position of my thigh. If I turn my toe more forwards when I'm riding it puts the part of my thigh (and the whole leg in general) where I have most strength closer to the horse - you must have very flexible ankles!!!
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post #75 of 113 Old 09-16-2013, 09:59 AM
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Movi "Toes forward" is like "headset" - it focuses on the irrelevant while ignoring the critical.
Seat position is critical, absolutely critical to the finer points of riding, not to stickability or comfort or to a jumper, but it does make a huge difference.

Turn your toes forward and your knee turns in to which in turn affects the position of the long muscle down your thigh (my RI would tell me which they are, but not something I remember). If I rode with my toes outward I would not be able to use my seat correctly and nor would my heel be light and able to give the aids I require of it.

Toe, heel, leg and thigh position all affect the seat which is our largest contact with a horse and how we can communicate in minute detail. Horses are supremely sensitive and can certainly feel the difference even if it makes no difference to you.
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post #76 of 113 Old 09-16-2013, 10:53 AM
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Dang! Whoever thought a 55 year old guy would have unheard of flexibility! Guess I'll go thru the rest of the day feeling like a young gymnast instead of an old fat fart.

For the OP: Sit on your horse and see if you can move your toes around without moving your thigh. You don't even need the horse. Sit in front of your computer and move your toes +/- 20 deg and see if your thigh twists with it.

However, if this is true: "Turn your toes forward and your knee turns in", then you can guess why I think toes forward can lead to gripping with the knee, which is normally a fault. That is one of the reasons given by Littauer & the Cavalry manual to leave your toes out some amount - because if you keep your ankles loose, then turning the toe in will eventually press your knee in while pulling your ankle & calf away.

Also for the OP: if you want to know how to ride endurance, then ask endurance riders and/or go to some endurance events and see how they ride.

7 Characteristics of a Great Endurance Horse September 2011 | Perseverance Endurance Horses

"If I rode with my toes outward I would not be able to use my seat correctly and nor would my heel be light and able to give the aids I require of it."

Odd, isn't it. Many great riders have managed to use their seat correctly while having their toes out 15-45 deg. Now, is their heel "light"? Probably not, since a forward seat puts weight into the heel. Is their heel ready to give cues in a way that would be effective in a dressage competition? Maybe not. So should a dressage rider put their toes out 20-30 degrees? Probably not. But if cowboys and jumpers stay on horses with their toes pointing out, then it is hard to avoid the conclusion that it has nothing to do with the security of your seat.

Dressage is a subset of riding. It values covering the smallest distance with the most effort to the horse. Like ballet, it isn't about efficiency. And like ballet, it isn't wrong - unless you are running a race. So if the OP wants to move into endurance racing, she would probably be better off thinking about how to cover ground efficiently rather than spectacularly.

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post #77 of 113 Old 09-16-2013, 12:04 PM
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I could cope - and frequently do find my toes at anything up to 30 degrees depending on how much drive I'm having to give the horse I'm riding. I wouldn't feel good at 45 degrees
A lot depends on how you are trained to start off - I took this pic of Beezie Madden at the weekend and she tends to mostly have a forward toe. She and the men who came first and second had similar styles.
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post #78 of 113 Old 09-16-2013, 12:27 PM
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Originally Posted by bsms View Post

Dressage is a subset of riding. It values covering the smallest distance with the most effort to the horse. Like ballet, it isn't about efficiency. And like ballet, it isn't wrong - unless you are running a race. So if the OP wants to move into endurance racing, she would probably be better off thinking about how to cover ground efficiently rather than spectacularly.

I'm not talking just about dressage, I'm talking about general riding and I ride the same out hacking or schooling. Turning your knee in is not about gripping with it (and my RI refers to a snug hug with the knees, gripping is only a fault if it impacts upon the lower leg and the use of the seat), but turning your toe out lessens the whole effectiveness of the thigh muscles for general riding. We will have to agree to disagree because if you have never been shown the difference and felt the difference I don't think you'll see / feel what I'm getting at.
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post #79 of 113 Old 09-16-2013, 12:28 PM
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I'm not trying to convince anyone to ride with their toes out 45 deg. If you don't need to, then don't. My guess is that on a really wide horse, my feet would be driven out by my inability to get my thighs wide enough, and I would end up riding on the back of my thighs just to get my legs around the horse. My horses are both slender, and I ride an Aussie or English saddle because it doesn't force my legs way out like our western saddle does. But I would never TRY to make my feet go out 45 degrees.

There are a lot of different approaches to riding. If I had a horse with aptitude for dressage, and if I also had an interest, then I would try to learn how to ride like a good dressage rider does. But my horse & I both lack patience, and we both like to go fast, and she acts happier when I ride her with a forward seat - so that is my goal. Unless we are on a trail, in which case she relaxes more if I have more weight in my seat and a further aft center of gravity. Since our trail rides are all about calming her down, that is how we ride the trail.

One of the joys of owning a horse is being able to adjust my riding for what both of us like to do. I have a lot of respect for a good dressage rider, and I enjoy watching them ride. I also like to watch videos of cutting horses, although I'll never work cattle and don't follow their style of riding. That is why it is important for instructors to explain WHY they want a student to do XYZ. Once you know the why, you can adjust if needed as your interests or abilities change.

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post #80 of 113 Old 09-16-2013, 12:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Clava View Post
...We will have to agree to disagree because if you have never been shown the difference and felt the difference I don't think you'll see / feel what I'm getting at.
As long as we can also agree that some great riders with impressive records also disagree with you. The US Cavalry disagreed with you, for goodness sakes. That ought to suggest a certain amount of flexibility in thought might be in order...

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