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@bsms I don’t show so I don’t really need to be sophisticated but keeping my foot that far into the stirrups hurts my shins against the stirrup leathers. I always ride in tall boots so it isn’t for lack of safety equipment.

Maybe it works differently in a western saddle.

I must note that I keep my feet directly below me and that the leathers are perpendicular to the ground - they need to rub against my shins in that position unless I take my feet further out.

I think polo players wear shin guards? I could well be wrong about that. They probably just aren’t wimpy like me.
 

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One year of once a week lessons is NOTHING! seriously, that's 50 something rides! That is NOTHING. I'm sorry, but riding well takes many more rides than that. For the amount of time you've had, I think you are doing really well. You recovered your lost balance well, and while the circle back was small, it was balanced both you and the horse. And , yes, that horse is a unicorn! one doesn't alwaays get such a nice horse to learn on.

I truly think the saddle is part of the issue . I know that I can post well from dawn to dusk in some saddles, and am a total basket case in others. Posting in a jump style saddle is nigh impossible for me, and an AP (which is what I think that saddle is) is also no good for me. I can post fine in most western or dressage saddles, where the location of the stirrup bar just naturally places the stirrup more under your leg, rather than in front of it.

I agree with Farmpony in that focussing on one thing at a time is best.
Try the shorter stirrup and focus on your leg position. think of your HEEL as pointng at the horse's hind feet. In order for that to happen, you have to have the weight going down the outsidee/backside of your leg, past your knee ( as @bsms said) and down even PAST the stirrup, like an arrow toward that horse's hind hooves.

Just try that. later, if you like I will give you two great pointers for better hand/arm position.
 

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Murdoch Minute No. 90: Balance Point of the Foot | The Murdoch Method this explains it well. And while we say ball I suspect many have found this balance point and due to location still refer to it as the ball.


Murdoch Minute No. 90: Balance Point of the Foot
by Wendy Murdoch

Photo 1. The balance point of the foot is just behind the ball of the 2nd toe.Photo 1. The balance point of the foot is just behind the ball of the 2nd toe.
Do you lose your stirrups? Stiffen your ankles? Have trouble getting your heels down? Does your stirrup swing forward when you ride? Do you carry your stirrup on your toes? Perhaps your difficulty results from the interpretation of riding with the stirrup on the ball of your foot. A small but significant change in foot placement could make all the difference to your ankle function and comfort when riding.
Next time you ride, notice where you place your foot on the stirrup. Are only your toes resting on the tread? Do you press down with the ball of your foot? Are you worried about getting caught in the stirrup and therefore have very little of your foot through? If so, consider getting safety stirrups so that you place your foot correctly on the tread for good ankle function. If your foot is not far enough through the stirrup you are on the ball of the foot instead of the balance point.
The correct position is with your foot resting with the “balance point of the foot” (George Morris) or “bubbling spring” (Sally Swift) on the stirrup. This location is just behind the ball of the 2nd toe. When riding with the balance point you will be able to lengthen your toes allowing them to rest flat inside your boot therefore, the boot crease will disappear.

Photo 2. Pushing down with the ball causes the heel to rise. Photo 2. Pushing down with the ball causes the heel to rise.
Have someone take a photo if you are not sure how you place your foot or look at an old pair of boots. They will have a deep crease across the toe box if you brace with the ball. This causes plantar flexion (pointing the foot downward), raises your heel and makes it impossible weight your heels correctly. Instead you will have to push the stirrup forward to have the appearance of a low heel but this causes many more problems!

Locate the balance point of your foot by removing your shoes and socks. Take your fingers and find an indentation just after the arch and before the ball of the first and second toes. You want this area on the stirrup tread. Depending on the width, the tread may extend forward and/or back from the balance point as with polo other modern stirrups.

To feel why this is the correct location find something to stand on which simulates the stirrup. Place only the ball of your foot on it. You can use the ball for leverage to push down causing your heel to rise (similar to how women would walk in high heels). Place the balance point of your foot on the object. Notice that your ankle can sink down and that it is difficult it is to brace against the ledge. You still might pull your toes up but you don’t have the support to raise your heel as if to stand on the ball of your foot. You can weight your heel without pushing your lower leg forward and your ankle can sink down acting like a shock absorber when riding.

Photo 3. Foot correctly positioned with the balance point on the stirrup tread. The toes are relaxed and long with the heel sinking below the line of the tread.Photo 3. Foot correctly positioned with the balance point on the stirrup tread. The toes are relaxed and long with the heel sinking below the line of the tread.
 

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Here is another that perhaps explains why in relation to ankle flexion that balance point and support is so important.

Here is a snip.from that link:

In contrast, the lead photo in this article shows a rider whose foot has "gone home" in the stirrup. Notice how the stirrup is positioned under the arch of the foot. This prevents the ankle from flexing freely. This kind of position can readily result in ankle and knee injuries. It also causes the rider to brace her lower back so that she bounces in the saddle.
 

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One year of once a week lessons is NOTHING! seriously, that's 50 something rides! That is NOTHING. I'm sorry, but riding well takes many more rides than that. For the amount of time you've had, I think you are doing really well.
I think I've had about 800 rides since coming back to riding in 2015. Over 700 of those on Elle. A couple hundred of those rides have been lessons. And I still feel like a big weenie -- especially on unfamiliar horses -- and have weird new issues popping up constantly. I consider myself barely intermediate.

Not saying this to be discouraging at all - but to be encouraging! OP is doing very very well. Lots to like, and lots of room to grow. It's a constant process!!

Rectangle Font Parallel Slope Circle
 

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Discussion Starter · #26 ·
Lots to like here!!

A few notes:

You're currently riding with piano hands. Your fists should be vertical, not horizontal, with thumbs on top. It will help you have a softer, more following contact, and help to keep your elbows in.

Your hands bounce slightly when you're rising. It's not bad at all, but if you think slightly "down" with your hands every time you rise, your hands will stay level regardless of what your body is doing.

Your lower leg is really still during your posting, which is great!! Looks really good. I think you might be shortening your leg a little, higher up, which is why your stirrup is slipping to home, and your heels aren't a bit deeper. Think pushing your knees back and down, and of lifting your toes slightly to get your heel just a bit lower. This will also help keep your leg as far back underneath you as you can reasonably place it. And it will keep your stirrups stable on your feet.

That trot circle around the cavaletti was too small for the horse to maintain his gait. While it's great to be able to do tight corners, within reason, not many horses could have turned that sharply and stayed in trot.

Over all, good progress so far!! The main thing is the angle of the hands, really. Nothing else stood out a whole lot. The rest will come with practice and riding fitness. Well done!!
One year of once a week lessons is NOTHING! seriously, that's 50 something rides! That is NOTHING. I'm sorry, but riding well takes many more rides than that. For the amount of time you've had, I think you are doing really well. You recovered your lost balance well, and while the circle back was small, it was balanced both you and the horse. And , yes, that horse is a unicorn! one doesn't alwaays get such a nice horse to learn on.

I truly think the saddle is part of the issue . I know that I can post well from dawn to dusk in some saddles, and am a total basket case in others. Posting in a jump style saddle is nigh impossible for me, and an AP (which is what I think that saddle is) is also no good for me. I can post fine in most western or dressage saddles, where the location of the stirrup bar just naturally places the stirrup more under your leg, rather than in front of it.

I agree with Farmpony in that focussing on one thing at a time is best.
Try the shorter stirrup and focus on your leg position. think of your HEEL as pointng at the horse's hind feet. In order for that to happen, you have to have the weight going down the outsidee/backside of your leg, past your knee ( as @bsms said) and down even PAST the stirrup, like an arrow toward that horse's hind hooves.

Just try that. later, if you like I will give you two great pointers for better hand/arm position.
yes please! I’ll keep you “posted” 🤣 (ok sorry)
 

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Discussion Starter · #27 ·
I think I've had about 800 rides since coming back to riding in 2015. Over 700 of those on Elle. A couple hundred of those rides have been lessons. And I still feel like a big weenie -- especially on unfamiliar horses -- and have weird new issues popping up constantly. I consider myself barely intermediate.

Not saying this to be discouraging at all - but to be encouraging! OP is doing very very well. Lots to like, and lots of room to grow. It's a constant process!!

View attachment 1120857
Thank you! I’m not discouraged at all! I’m in this for life now, having given up at age 13….. 🥰
 

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Murdoch Minute No. 90: Balance Point of the Foot | The Murdoch Method this explains it well. And while we say ball I suspect many have found this balance point and due to location still refer to it as the ball.


Murdoch Minute No. 90: Balance Point of the Foot
by Wendy Murdoch

Photo 1. The balance point of the foot is just behind the ball of the 2nd toe.Photo 1. The balance point of the foot is just behind the ball of the 2nd toe.
Do you lose your stirrups? Stiffen your ankles? Have trouble getting your heels down? Does your stirrup swing forward when you ride? Do you carry your stirrup on your toes? Perhaps your difficulty results from the interpretation of riding with the stirrup on the ball of your foot. A small but significant change in foot placement could make all the difference to your ankle function and comfort when riding.
Next time you ride, notice where you place your foot on the stirrup. Are only your toes resting on the tread? Do you press down with the ball of your foot? Are you worried about getting caught in the stirrup and therefore have very little of your foot through? If so, consider getting safety stirrups so that you place your foot correctly on the tread for good ankle function. If your foot is not far enough through the stirrup you are on the ball of the foot instead of the balance point.
The correct position is with your foot resting with the “balance point of the foot” (George Morris) or “bubbling spring” (Sally Swift) on the stirrup. This location is just behind the ball of the 2nd toe. When riding with the balance point you will be able to lengthen your toes allowing them to rest flat inside your boot therefore, the boot crease will disappear.

Photo 2. Pushing down with the ball causes the heel to rise. Photo 2. Pushing down with the ball causes the heel to rise.
Have someone take a photo if you are not sure how you place your foot or look at an old pair of boots. They will have a deep crease across the toe box if you brace with the ball. This causes plantar flexion (pointing the foot downward), raises your heel and makes it impossible weight your heels correctly. Instead you will have to push the stirrup forward to have the appearance of a low heel but this causes many more problems!

Locate the balance point of your foot by removing your shoes and socks. Take your fingers and find an indentation just after the arch and before the ball of the first and second toes. You want this area on the stirrup tread. Depending on the width, the tread may extend forward and/or back from the balance point as with polo other modern stirrups.

To feel why this is the correct location find something to stand on which simulates the stirrup. Place only the ball of your foot on it. You can use the ball for leverage to push down causing your heel to rise (similar to how women would walk in high heels). Place the balance point of your foot on the object. Notice that your ankle can sink down and that it is difficult it is to brace against the ledge. You still might pull your toes up but you don’t have the support to raise your heel as if to stand on the ball of your foot. You can weight your heel without pushing your lower leg forward and your ankle can sink down acting like a shock absorber when riding.

Photo 3. Foot correctly positioned with the balance point on the stirrup tread. The toes are relaxed and long with the heel sinking below the line of the tread.Photo 3. Foot correctly positioned with the balance point on the stirrup tread. The toes are relaxed and long with the heel sinking below the line of the tread.
This is true. The "ball" of the foot is too far forward and what I usually call the ball is behind it.

As far as riding farther back on the foot goes, it is fine if you have wider stirrups. With the usual short bed english irons your shin will rub as someone mentioned, and the arch of your foot will get painful from the pressure point.

Some have said to put your thumb on top. You don't want piano hands, but there are different correct hand angles depending on your style of riding. Western disciplines sometimes hold a fist like an ice cream cone is in it.

I was taught to angle the hand slightly rather than having an upright fist. This can be a more relaxed but also strong position for many riders.
 

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Maybe it works differently in a western saddle.
Rode for years in English and Australian saddles. Not an issue.


Now...In YOUR saddle, with how YOU ride, it may be an issue. If so, don't do it! Simple. Do what works for you on your horse, in your saddle, with how you ride.
This prevents the ankle from flexing freely. This kind of position can readily result in ankle and knee injuries.
Simply not true. Remember, the US Cavalry taught having the stirrup on the ball of the foot was "very faulty" and they taught tens of thousands, if not more, how to ride across rough country - including Ronald Reagan:

I don't mind people CHOOSING to ride with the stirrup on the ball of the foot, but I strongly object to being told - by people who don't do it - that it is dangerous, prevents the use of the ankle, will cause knee injuries, etc. WHAT HAS BEEN DONE CAN BE DONE. Most (but not all) cowboys use the home position, including those who are going to throw themselves off their horse calf roping! Polo players use it. It is common in steeplechase. The military taught it. And I do it all the time, with my 60+ year old knees and ankles.

Anyone uncomfortable with it, or who just prefers not to do it, is WELCOME to use the ball of foot instead. But it isn't a "fault", doesn't injure anyone, and is extremely common in sports involving very challenging riding. In fact, that is a common denominator of the home position - the wilder the riding, the more likely it is to be used! And that strongly suggests it is SAFER, not more dangerous!

It is a bit like the collection of dressage: If we think we can properly balance a horse then why do we only attempt it in the arena on level ground? Why do we instinctively let the horse balance himself when things start to go bad, yet claim we know more about balance than the horse?

Locate the balance point of your foot by removing your shoes and socks.
Simpler method: Go climb a ladder:


You will instinctively place your foot in the securest possible position, which is neither on the ball of the foot NOR rammed against the heel!

Look at the photos I've posted. None of them show my heel or Reagan's heel touching the stirrup. Nor are "we" using the ball of the foot. The best place for the stirrup is the ladder-climbing position! @gottatrot is right, a wider stirrup tends to obscure it. I spent years using a 2 bar English stirrup, including bare metal ones with no rubber foot grip, and it works the same way.

Not on the arch unless one is REALLY worried about losing the stirrup. Not on the ball of the foot, which no one uses when climbing a ladder. The point of balance is the ladder position. I like that near the leading edge of a stirrup. With a wider stirrup, folks might shift it a little back. But when one focuses on BALANCE and FEELING GOOD on the horse instead of what judges call "good position", the body knows what to do. Just as it knows what to do when climbing a ladder! I swear riding instructors make things harder than needed to keep themselves employed!

BUT! Whatever works well for an individual. Because we are all different and there are very few hard rules in riding. In spite of what judges say...
 

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This remains one of my favorite videos. No, I don't ride like this. I'm not good enough to ride like this. But watch her in slow motion. Watch her foot, leg, etc. Sometimes what works just works, and the idea that we are insecure in our seat, etc from failing to use "proper position" just boggles my mind:
 

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@bsms that video of a barrel racer shows a rider that is barely even using the stirrups. She is basically riding by balance and grip, both of her legs and he hand on the horn. would never lift that video as an example to someone who is asking how to improve their posting, as was the OP. Yeah, she's an awesome barrel racing rider, for sure, and gets the job done with an "it ain't pretty style but it works". I doubt that stirrups position would be as helpful if she were trying to post a trot.

Also, people differ on what they think of as 'the ball of the foot'. The Wendy Murdock 5 minute fix articles says to put the stirrup just behind the ball of the foot, but, if people have different ideas of what that is, ti can vary a lot.
I do agree with her that if you have your foot sunk in, way deep , to the stirrup, and you try to stand up for posting the trot, it is more likely to push the stirrup FORWARD. In barrel racing, or cow dogging, that is probably a good idea, since you have such rapid deceleration and change of direction. But, for posting? not so good.
 

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I do agree with her that if you have your foot sunk in, way deep , to the stirrup, and you try to stand up for posting the trot, it is more likely to push the stirrup FORWARD.
Except...I've done it and do it. Doesn't happen IF you are balanced over the stirrup! I guess that is my point: Those of us who DO X know best if X results in Y & Z. I'm not guessing. I'm not quoting an instructor. I do it all the time because much of my riding is done in a half-seat with weight in my stirrups. Trotting is mostly done in two point but I do post at times - and it is pretty easy if you keep balanced over your stirrup and USE your stirrups. If you fold/unfold while posting versus sitting down and then relying on your horse to throw you up and forward, your consistent balance results in a consistent lower leg. And if you canter in the half-seat, the horse's back isn't thrusting you forward either. Steady balance = steady leg.

Doesn't matter if your stirrup is on your toe, the ball of foot, the ladder position or the arch. If your BALANCE is above your stirrups, your lower leg stays stable because YOU are stable. And your horse will thank you.
 

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It is doable. If the position of your foot causes a forward push on the stirrup, when rising , the human must lean forward MORE to stay 'over' the stirrup. There are certainly situations where this is optimal. and it depends on the speed of the horse, and whether or not you are going to jump something or not.
 

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@Luna’s rider

The screenshot with the line on it isn’t so dreadful as far as your shoulder through hip line is concerned- if anything you possibly try too hard to sit so upright!

You’re sitting a little too far back on your saddle - shuffle your bottom forward a little bit and that will encourage your lower leg to shift back and bring your heel into line.

Don’t be tempted to push your heel too far down, it’s unnecessary.
Rather than pushing your heels down, think about your weight flowing down from your shoulder, through your hip and down through your heels.

You’re riding in a ‘English style’ riding school program, so my advice is aimed at that.

I don’t care what a hobby rider does or what suits them, its what’s correct and what’s expected in your situation that matters.

In correct English riding style, your foot must be placed on the stirrup, slightly behind the ball of your foot.

It might suit some people to do otherwise but it isn’t correct.

I think you might be over posting at the trot, which will put you out of sync with the diagonals- that will correct itself when you get your legs and seat better placed and become more relaxed.

I think tension is a lot of your problem with your hands and arms- time in the saddle will fix that

Ronald Reagan isn’t a great example, he maybe had arthritis in his knees or he emulated the English hunting seat - HM had a much better position in the saddle!

Horse Working animal Bit Saddle Horse tack
 
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