Tips on keeping lower leg tight? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 38 Old 09-21-2020, 08:20 PM Thread Starter
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Tips on keeping lower leg tight?

I’ve been having a lot of trouble keeping my lower leg tight. I move my leg back and forth. I know that no stirrups and maybe two point helps. My instructor recommended that I do 5-10 minutes of no stirrups at the trot and canter every time I ride which I’ve been doing. My problem is that my lower leg still moves back and forth when I’m doing no stirrups. Is this normal and will go away if I keep doing no stirrups? Is there any other exercises I can do that are better or is no stirrups the best way to deal with this? Thanks!
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post #2 of 38 Old 09-21-2020, 08:24 PM
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What worked for me was really sitting on my butt so I could feel each seat bone if I push down, shoulders back, heavy elbows, and let my legs relax. I figured that out from the no stirrups thing.
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post #3 of 38 Old 09-21-2020, 08:35 PM
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I've found that spending a minute or so in two-point, really thinking about getting my heels down, tends to help my lower legs stabilize.
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post #4 of 38 Old 09-21-2020, 08:44 PM
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Are your stirrups the right length? Is it only at the trot that you have this issue or at the canter as well?

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post #5 of 38 Old 09-21-2020, 08:55 PM
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When I ride without stirrups, my coach actually wants my lower leg LOOSE! Ha. Although not loose in a swing forward and back way, but just in a... not holding tension way.

When you do ride with stirrups, though, one thing that I find helps is to think of the weight sinking down into the front of my knees whenever I rise in rising trot. Keeps the energy going to the right place to keep everything more stable.
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post #6 of 38 Old 09-21-2020, 08:59 PM Thread Starter
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@waresbear thanks, now that I think about it I don’t really do those things so I’ll need to focus on them. @ACinATX I’ll give that a try and I’ll do it with no hands because I read that it’s better to stabilize the leg. @farmpony84 They are the right length and they definitely don’t need to be shorter but I’ll check to make sure next time. It’s pretty much only at the posting trot and once I’ve been riding for like 20 minutes it seems to get a little better. @SteadyOn so I guess we’re working on opposite things haha. So would it be more of a squeeze more in with my knees or more of my thighs? Or is it putting more weight in my knees? My knees are normally slightly outwards but not like sticking out.
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post #7 of 38 Old 09-21-2020, 09:04 PM
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I'm thinking maybe you are standing in your stirrups at the post. You might want to make sure your heel is aligned with your hip - It could be that your legs are too far forward so you are off balance (in a chair seat). That would make it hard to keep your legs steady if that is the case.

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post #8 of 38 Old 09-21-2020, 09:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Bettythepony View Post
@SteadyOn so I guess we’re working on opposite things haha. So would it be more of a squeeze more in with my knees or more of my thighs? Or is it putting more weight in my knees? My knees are normally slightly outwards but not like sticking out.
You don't have to squeeze in with your knees at all. Think about keeping them down and back, as much as you comfortably can without forcing them. And when you rise in rising trot, think of your knees pointing at the ground, almost like you're kneeling down to do some gardening or something. You don't really have to DO anything with them, their position doesn't really have to change, but thinking of your weight dropping down through your knees as you rise just seems to somehow keep things in a better place.
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post #9 of 38 Old 09-21-2020, 09:17 PM Thread Starter
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@farmpony84 you’re probably right I have been told my legs were too far forward, it’s kind of a habit because I used to (a year or so ago, not a problem anymore) move my legs too far back to get Betty to respond to them. @SteadyOn I see what you’re saying, I’ll have to give that a try too.

Last edited by Bettythepony; 09-21-2020 at 09:34 PM.
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post #10 of 38 Old 09-21-2020, 10:52 PM
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If your center of gravity is above your stirrups, they won't move. They cannot move forward or back if your center of gravity is above the stirrup. Two point is how you practice that. To be more precise: STANDING IN THE STIRRUPS. At a walk. At a trot. At a canter. In turns and in speed transitions.

Do NOT grip with the knees. Gripping with the knees creates a pivot point. Nor does a steady leg come from grip at all. It comes from being balanced over your stirrups.

This means you can do two point with a somewhat loose leg, letting the weight flow - uninterrupted by your knee and thigh - into your stirrups. When you post, you won't need to thrust your hips/body forward. You just UNFOLD your body because your body is always centered above your stirrups. The friction of your thighs and calves will be enough to hold you without requiring squeezing - IF your weight is centered above the stirrups.

Quote:
...The principles of the seat advocated herein remain the same for all types of riding. There are only minor variations in the length of the stirrup-straps, and in the resulting change in the forward inclination of the body. It will be found that the shorter the stirrup becomes, the more the body must be inclined to the front to remain in perfect balance, and thus minimize interference with the horse's efforts. ...

...In hacking, since the distances ridden are usually not great, and the time on the horse's back is short, the stirrups may be adjusted primarily to suit the rider's comfort. They should be fairly long. In breaking and training a young horse, there is a marked advantage in having the stirrups quite long, since the rider's legs are then well down around his mount, where they may be employed strongly as aids in teaching the lessons at hand, and also wrapped about him to provide security of seat in case the youngster bucks or violently plays up. No matter what the length of the stirrup is, the body is always inclined to the front; slightly with long stirrups, and progressively farther as the stirrups become shorter...

...it may be said that the seat to be described is an exceedingly simple and natural one. In fact, most children, as soon as they have gained a little confidence on a horse's back, assume the correct posture instinctively, Unfortunately, their natural tendencies are often ruined under the tutelage of the ignorant grooms and unqualified riding teachers abounding in this country...

Stirrups and Legs

...For hacking and normal training of the horse, when he is not to be schooled in jumping, the rule for the length of the stirrup straps is as follows: Being seated as described above, with the legs hanging down in a natural position by the horse's sides and the feet out of the stirrups, the treads of the stirrups should hang even with the center of the large bones on the inner sides of the ankle joints. This is a general rule...

...For the beginner, it is well to have the stirrups a little on the long side, rather than too short, as this permits, and almost forces the rider to work the thighs and knees well down around the horse, and thus overcome the usual instinctive tendency to raise the knees, which makes the seat unstable and weakens the grip of the knee and calves. It is the ability to grip with the calves of the legs, and to a much lesser extent with the knees and thighs, that provides the strength of seat through which a good rider stays with his horse when difficulties, such as shying, plunging, stumbling, bucking or jumping arise. No matter how much the stirrups are shortened, it must be understood that the stirrup-straps, when the seat is correct, always remain vertical, and that as a result of shorter stirrups, the knees, though raised, go very little farther to the front....as the stirrups are shortened, the seat and buttocks are necessarily pushed farther back on the cantle. This demands more forward inclination of the body from the hips...

- Harry Chamberlin, Riding & Schooling Horses
Quote:
Cavalry Manual Test:

How to Test Correctness of Rider's Position: If the rider is in balance as a result of his upper body's being properly inclined forward, he is able at the walk, trot or gallop, WITHOUT FIRST LEANING FARTHER FORWARD and without pulling on the reins, to stand in his stirrups with all his weight in his depressed heels.

In executing this exercise the seat is raised just clear of the saddle by stiffening the knees but keep them partly flexed. The upper body REMAINS inclined forward at the hips. At the trot on hand should touch the horse's neck LIGHTLY to assist in remaining in balance. At the walk or gallop [canter] the rider, if his seat is correct, should be able to stand in his stirrups without the aid of his hand. A rider, who can execute the above exercise at all gaits and without first changing inclination, is in balance and never "behind his horse". The majority of those NOT in this position partly maintain their balance by hanging on to the reins, thus unnecessarily punishing their horses' mouths as well as their backs."

Riders ask "How?" Horsemen ask "Why?"
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