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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My foot frequently slips from the stirrups when I kick the horse, especially while I'm kicking with one leg to get the horse's hind end to turn. I'm not sure what I should do. I'm letting my body weight sink down into my heels, yet I'm still having that issue. My stirrups are the correct length as well. I'm still having trouble kicking the horse while posting, I miss a beat and am on the wrong diagonal, or I slip and lose my balance completely. Does anybody have any tips for these?
 

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When you are posting, make sure you maintain your position directly over your horse's back. That is, keep your tail bone aligned with their spine. This will help ensure you distribute your weight evenly in the stirrups, which should help prevent your foot from slipping.

When you say kicking the horse, are you trying to transition into canter or just get a more forward trot?

If you are looking for a working trot, you shouldn't need to kick per se. Try leaning forward slightly, lifting your reins and moving your hips to encourage the horse.
 

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Lose the stirrups. Ride without them until you get your proper balance and core engaged. Brutal, but trust me, it works.
 

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She posts so nicely, in the video
I was told a long time back to think of using your ANKLE bone to 'kick', rather than your heel. And, to think of it as 'plumping a pillow' between your legs, with the 'knobble' of the inside ankle bone as the thing that kicks into the horse's side. Additionally, if a hrose requuires endless kicking just to make him him respond, it's time to tune him up with a crop/whip.

It gets easier and better over time, as your seat improves. Hang in there!
 

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You said that you have been riding for a long time. How long, exactly?

Because if you’ve been riding for ten years and you foot is still slipping out of the stirrups, there is something very wrong.

If you’ve been taking a few lessons a week for a year or two - completely normal. Advice given above is appropriate for the second scenario.

In the first scenario (ten years of experience) I would have no idea. The way your body is built most probably.
 

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A couple of tips:
  • If your horse has such a lack of impulsion/forward moving you have to really kick rather than give occasional squeezing, I'd consider going to some groundwork such as longing to encourage impulsion. Gentle spurs or a dressage whip may also help if you're not currently used them and if used correctly.
  • If you've solved the impulsion issue and still struggle - I agree to do a lot of posting trot without stirrups. You need to separate "posting" from pushing up with your legs at all - those should be independent movements. The post comes from your core and the slight upward/forward motion of the horse, not from your legs. That then leaves your legs independent for those cues.
 

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Elle, 1997 Oldenburg mare
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If you're losing your stirrups when you kick, you're probably shortening your leg when you do it. Your leg should lift out, not up. Here's a good video:


However... I definitely question why the need to constantly kick, instead of squeeze? I will kick sometimes if my horse is just really ignoring my leg, as a way to get her attention; but generally for impulsion in the trot, I give a squeeze on the "sit" portion of posting, for a few strides in a row, to kind of pump her up and get her moving. If she ignores that, I'll tap her once or twice with the whip and ask again. I rarely kick except in walk at the beginning of the ride to get her moving more, get her attention, and not have to nag at her.
 

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Quest is a 17.2hh chestnut OTTB gelding
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I was just thinking of asking this question!!
I'm gonna follow this thread because I have a similar issue (mainly when posting the trot). My legs in sitting trot is fine, but posting is atrocious imo. I've gotten way better at using my calf and not my heels to kick.
I do a lot of sitting trot without stirrups so my seat at the sitting trot, and my leg is actually very steady. I HATE posting without stirrups, but I should do it way more! I tend to grip with my knees when I do it so clearly I'm doing something wrong.

SteadyOn's video was great ! I've never heard that before.

I've found that doing yoga especially the warrior pose helps with opening up my hips, which translates to a better body position when riding. I also tend to lift my leg to use it, thereby losing my stirrups. I've gotten way better at it through consciously trying to use my calf. My position is not always that great at the beginning of a lesson, but gradually gets better by the end, when my leg relaxes and becomes more elongated. My stirrups usually slip down to my arch, but when my leg is softer and elongated I can hold them at the balls of my feet.


For the knowledgeable repliers :
When posting, what parts of your leg should be in contact with the horse?
 

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Yes, that second video is good. It's like the 'plumping the pillows' image. She (my teacher) said that one can use a 'flutter' of the ankle , too, as a softer signal.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Do you have picture, or even better, video of you riding? That would be the best way for us to see what could be happening.

This video might be helpful:
Don't currently have a video, but I may be able to ask someone to take one. The video was very useful, I appreciate it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
You said that you have been riding for a long time. How long, exactly?

Because if you’ve been riding for ten years and you foot is still slipping out of the stirrups, there is something very wrong.

If you’ve been taking a few lessons a week for a year or two - completely normal. Advice given above is appropriate for the second scenario.

In the first scenario (ten years of experience) I would have no idea. The way your body is built most probably.
I did not phrase the title very well. I've been riding for about three years. When I was learning to post, I did not have a very good instructor, I take lessons elsewhere now. We pretty much left off where I was with my previous instructor, and didn't go over the basics again. I have asked for her to reteach that to me, but I did not receive the help I need.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
When you are posting, make sure you maintain your position directly over your horse's back. That is, keep your tail bone aligned with their spine. This will help ensure you distribute your weight evenly in the stirrups, which should help prevent your foot from slipping.

When you say kicking the horse, are you trying to transition into canter or just get a more forward trot?

If you are looking for a working trot, you shouldn't need to kick per se. Try leaning forward slightly, lifting your reins and moving your hips to encourage the horse.
Trying to transition into a canter. Thank you for the tips on transitioning into a more forward trot.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
If you're losing your stirrups when you kick, you're probably shortening your leg when you do it. Your leg should lift out, not up. Here's a good video:


However... I definitely question why the need to constantly kick, instead of squeeze? I will kick sometimes if my horse is just really ignoring my leg, as a way to get her attention; but generally for impulsion in the trot, I give a squeeze on the "sit" portion of posting, for a few strides in a row, to kind of pump her up and get her moving. If she ignores that, I'll tap her once or twice with the whip and ask again. I rarely kick except in walk at the beginning of the ride to get her moving more, get her attention, and not have to nag at her.
This video is very helpful, thank you. Not great at phrasing things, when I say kick, I mean something in between a kick and squeeze. So not a full on kick but it isn't a very gentle squeeze either. To get him to trot, I need to start posting before we even start trotting to get the energy up. If he doesn't listen, I tap with the whip, and repeat.
 

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Elle, 1997 Oldenburg mare
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When posting, what parts of your leg should be in contact with the horse?
Everything from the knee down should be the same as when you're sitting. You hinge at the knee, and your abs need to be a big part of what pulls you up, to keep you stable. People tend to run into trouble in posting because they compensate for weak abs by hollowing their back and pushing their butt out, and tip forward into the post. Really only your thigh should be changing angles in any pronounced way. Lower leg stays the same, upper body stays almost the same. Knees, hips, and elbows all change their bend to open slightly on the rise, but not much else.
 

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If the knee doesn't move, then it isn't functioning as a hinge at all, but becomes a fixed point around which we pivot. We LOSE the very important hinge (opening/closing motion) of the knee, thereby losing a critical shock absorber. Posting ought to be grounded in the stirrups so our LEGS absorb shock - instead of our knees transferring the shock into the horse's back. When posting is a variation of "standing in the stirrups", we simply fold and unfold while keeping our center of gravity aligned with the stirrups. The alternative is a fixed knee that we pivot forward and up - and then back and DOWN. There is a reason why traditional posting creates the same peak pressures on a horse's back that sitting the trot does, while two point reduces those pressures by 20%.

If you jump out of a pickup, you flex at the knees to absorb shock. Shouldn't we as riders try to absorb the shock of our weight going up and down, instead of transferring it into the horse? And since we're then stable in the stirrups, it is easy to squeeze (plump?) without losing the stirrups.
 

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If the knee doesn't move, then it isn't functioning as a hinge at all, but becomes a fixed point around which we pivot. We LOSE the very important hinge (opening/closing motion) of the knee, thereby losing a critical shock absorber. Posting ought to be grounded in the stirrups so our LEGS absorb shock - instead of our knees transferring the shock into the horse's back. When posting is a variation of "standing in the stirrups", we simply fold and unfold while keeping our center of gravity aligned with the stirrups. The alternative is a fixed knee that we pivot forward and up - and then back and DOWN. There is a reason why traditional posting creates the same peak pressures on a horse's back that sitting the trot does, while two point reduces those pressures by 20%.

If you jump out of a pickup, you flex at the knees to absorb shock. Shouldn't we as riders try to absorb the shock of our weight going up and down, instead of transferring it into the horse? And since we're then stable in the stirrups, it is easy to squeeze (plump?) without losing the stirrups.
I'm not saying the knee doesn't bend to take some shock too, during the motion -- it definitely does! And there is some movement in the lower leg in posting, in that the heel deepens very slightly because the weight lifting out of the seat has to drop somewhere. But the lower leg shouldn't swing forward or backward or in or out, and definitely shouldn't shorten. The amount of "stillness" to it is, like all things in riding, only relative to how much anything else is moving. Nothing is ever really "still." Saying the lower leg should remain where it is is a shorthand way of saying that it doesn't move around, and shouldn't be the driving force behind posting. You don't drive the post from the stirrups -- you post from the knees, thighs, hips, and core. But yes, that is where some of the weight and shock goes.
 

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You shouldn't be having to pull yourself up while posting. Let the horse pop you up and then use your core/upper leg to catch and guide the motion to the "top" of the motion and softly back down.

If you are trying to get from a trot to a canter, sit for a few trot strides while asking for the transition. Then, you're already seated for the canter and it gives a clearer cue to the horse.
Personally, find that if I have to get pretty aggressive with my leg, sitting the trot to do so helps.

I dont ride English much anymore, but I don't think it matters what saddle you sit in.
 

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Trying to transition into a canter. Thank you for the tips on transitioning into a more forward trot.
I had the same happening until I realized that the problem wasn't my position but my horse not being forward enough. You can't really kick/force a horse into canter - it has to anticipate going into canter. Your foot touching behind the girth needs to be a permission ("Ok, now"), not a kiiiiiiCKKK. He most probably knows what you want, he is just ignoring you. Kicking harder doesn't work because next time you will need to kick even harder.

The way you achieve forward is a LOT of transitions at walk and trot or using a crop effectively or both. Get your horse forward and you will not even need your legs - I get my horse to canter by nudging my seat slightly. And don't mistake me for a good rider, I am a confident novice at best ("novice" sounds silly after 8 years of riding but it is what it i) - a forward horse makes everything look and feel great. If you are riding school horses it will be a bit more difficult because they get ridden by many people but horses do remember their riders, especially if they ride well or at least with zest.

In the mean time, you could ask from two point which (I feel) is much easier. Do it a few times, a few transitions trot/canter/trot in two point and then try sitting and asking. I am guessing your leg will remain steady if the horse just transitions without fussing.
 
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