Heels/Leg Position Over Fences - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 10 Old 07-24-2012, 01:03 PM Thread Starter
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Heels/Leg Position Over Fences

Does anybody here have any advice for improving heel or leg position over fences? My leg slips back and my heels slip up whenever I jump, and I get the whole idea of just putting more weight in your heels and less in my hands, but are there any specific exercises to help with it? I would really appreciate any ideas.
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post #2 of 10 Old 07-26-2012, 02:17 PM
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I'm not a riding instructor, but an exercise that could help is riding a grid without reins. Tie your reins in a knot so they don't hang loose and hold them below the knot as normal. One stride before the first jump in the grid, let go of your reins and get into two point. Try holding your hands out by your sides, on your hips, or on your head. This will stop you putting too much weight into your release. The only thing is, you need to make sure your horse is quiet enough to ride without reins.

Hope this helps!

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post #3 of 10 Old 07-27-2012, 08:55 AM
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it helps to get an idea into your head, but ultimately, lots of strength and work will do it. try your best to sit the fence, but push your legs forward. so that way the horse will push you out of the saddle and you won't resort to overjumping. also, make sure you're not pinching with your knee. that can be a big cause for your leg to slide back.

but for me, it helped to basically think... 'push your heels towards his nose and try to sit as you feel the take off.' you'll have to do it a lot, but eventually, you'll be gain some strength in your leg to hold the position.

also, a lot of core strengthening. have a friend throw you on a lunge line. no stirrups, no reins, etc. if you feel balanced enough, maybe even try some two point with no stirrups or reins. you want your body to be able to hold it's own over the fences, so gotta get those muscles strong!

hope that helped! :)
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post #4 of 10 Old 07-29-2012, 02:39 PM
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I have had the same issue. What has helped me is to roll my leg out. I tend to grip with my knees and so if I pivot my leg out a little at the knee, it make my legs not slip back as far. My leg still moves back but strengthening will help with the rest of this issue.

"Horses are the best medicine for the soul"

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post #5 of 10 Old 07-29-2012, 03:41 PM
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I do the same thing too! I concentrate on calf on, knee off, weight in heels. Otherwise I pinch with my knees terribly and it's not a strong position. Years ago when I had a green Standardbred, he pulled me off over his head all the time because he would stretch his head and neck all the way forward and all the way down, and my position was so weak I would just go straight over his head and fall off on landing.

I now fall off now and then if my current gelding refuses (now have an Anglo Arab) because I pinch with my knees. If he stops the momentum of my body is too much and I just tip off over his head. Gripping with your knees lowers the pivot point and raises your centre of gravity, and it makes you really unstable.

But, concentrating on calf on, knee off has the added effect of keeping my legs on and so my horse knows I'm with him and in contact and he knows I'm committed to my fences, so he jumps every time. If I get lax about it and let myself pinch, then the old habit of dropping him a few strides out comes back, and he refuses, or gets strong.

I'm going back to jumping a green horse in a few years when my TB is broken in and ready to start jumping, so I'm madly working on my own confidence and position on my educated horse in the mean time. I'm so lucky to have my old Anglo as well as my new TB.

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post #6 of 10 Old 07-29-2012, 04:00 PM
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The problem with the "calf on" principal is that you learn to ride on the back of your leg instead of the INSIDE of your leg. You will have your heels digging into the horse and your leg will lose a lot of its sensitivity.

I teach my student to keep their lower legs forward by taking their hands away from them in two point. At the halt, they will maintain their two point with their arms out like an airplane until they learn to move their lower leg forward to act as a counterbalance to their upper body weight. At all times their toes must be forward, not out.

Then, when they can maintain their two point at halt with no effort, they go to the walk on the longeline. When they can maintain their position without effort, they move to trot...then canter. This takes a LOT of strength and you will feel the back of your leg burn as it stretches. Then as someone said above, they will go through jump grids with their arms out until they come out of the grid.

This will build strength, teach you to balance without using your hands/crest release to prop yourself up, and teach you to ride on the INSIDE of your lower leg, not back of your leg.

Calf graspers are no better than knee graspers, IMO. For one thing, you will never be able to be trusted with spurs....something you will need sometime as you progress.
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post #7 of 10 Old 07-29-2012, 04:33 PM
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I didn't explain myself well there lol. I did mean lower leg, not calf. I ride with spurs on the flat, because my boy is too smart for his own good and will not move sideways off my leg if I don't have them on (he knows I don't have the strength to MAKE him and being half-Arab he has his "make me" moments)... I don't jump with them on though because I'm trying to break the habit of pinching with my knees and that habit makes my legs swing back now and then. Which he hates, with good reason.

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post #8 of 10 Old 07-29-2012, 07:54 PM Thread Starter
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This is what made me realize I needed to work on this. I can't see what is causing my leg to slide and everything except that I am putting way too much weight into my hands. If you guys see anything different, tell me, but thanks a lot for the advice already. Sailor is VERY quiet so the next time I get to ride him outside of my lesson I will definitely try some no hands.
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post #9 of 10 Old 07-29-2012, 07:55 PM Thread Starter
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post #10 of 10 Old 07-30-2012, 08:20 AM
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You're ahead of the movement :) Instead of moving ahead of your horse, if you concentrate on moving with him, that will help. I don't like saying "follow the movement" because it implies being slightly behind it. Moving WITH your horse is the goal :)

Edit; jumping ahead causes an unstable lower leg, and I do it too sometimes.

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bad heel , bad leg , jumping , jumping position , two point

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