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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've always rode English growing up, and now I'm starting to ride Western.
English and Western riding aren't that different. Though, in Western riding you wear your stirrups longer.


Here is my dilemma: Every time I ride Western whenever I'm riding at the lope my feet work there way out of the stirrups. It never happens when my stirrups are shorter, and if I try to shorten them my trainer always says, "are you a jockey?". But as soon as they're short that problem goes away and I'm 100% better.

Any ideas?
 

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I never took western lessons, but I've always stuck with my stirrup length. I put the tips of my fingers where the flap meets the saddle and put the stirrup where it meets my armpit. That has worked for me in both western and english. At first I did find it hard to keep my heels down because of the wider stirrup, but it just took practice.

I don't know if this helps, but hopefully it will.
 

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It's possible you are not riding enough with your seat. Some english riders sort of "perch" up there and put a lot of weight in their feet instead of the seat. Try and do as much work without your stirrups. Also try and think about sinking your center (behind your bellybutton) down into the saddle and drive the horses movement from your seat. Try and think about reaching for you stirrups and don't place too much weight in them...it's all in the seat.
 

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That's not too unusual when making the switch from English to Western and it happens at the canter in particular. I think the problem comes from not having your weight in your heels (which is opposite of what shesinthebarn just said - LOL) or having the stirrups a hole too long.

How about a picture of your legs out of the stirrups and then in them?
 

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I only ride western, but I know that the stirrup hole just one too long makes riding totally different. Maybe try one notch up--it'll be closer to what you're used to, but still long enough for your instructor.
 

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I should have been more clear - weight in the stirrups yes. And it should be in the heels, not the ball of the foot, but try not too much, and try not to be overly dependant on them. I've had the best results from making your seat your security, not your stirrups. I had the same problem as the OP when I made the switch from english to cutting horses as a teen. Talk about night and day disciplines!
 

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I find the length of my stirrups will vary from discipline to discipline. When I am roping which I rarely do any more. I have my stirrups shorter. When I rein I like them longer.

I have noticed in the past that if I am lazy and do not ride correctly my feet do come out of the stirrups at times. When riding western the one big difference I have seen is that you drive the horse with your seat when you ride especially in the lope. I have noticed that a lot of English riders do not really do that. They seem to let the horse drive them in the seat. This is also how most western riders will control their horses speed. You just quite riding and the horse slows. I have not noticed any english riders doing this.

Also keeping your weight in the heals dose really help also most western riders tend to have their foot in the stirrup a bit more then English riders do.
 

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Yeah, that's a common problem.

Make sure you have the ball of your foot securely in the stirrup with your heels down. And sometimes trainers make the mistake that westerns tirrups should be long, but you should have be able to stand at least four inches out of the saddle and ride there. I had the problem of my feet falling out before, and I learned about the stirrups and it made a world of differance.

And like others mentioned, make sure you are riding in your seat :)
 

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Haha I'm the opposite. I grew up riding my stirrups almost too long, and now everyone always tells me how long I ride them...lol. And when I ride english I can't get used to how short they are..lol. But Ya, I would just raise them a notch or two..hope it helps! :)
 

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. And sometimes trainers make the mistake that westerns tirrups should be long, but you should have be able to stand at least four inches out of the saddle and ride there.
Depending on the discipline. If I am trail riding and intend to be out for a few hours, having 4" of room when I stand would kill my knees. When I trail ride, I have no more then 2" of room which means a longer leg.

Aside from that, Western riders do use their seat and legs more, and their reins less then English riders. As mentioned above, heels down, foot a little further in the stirrup, and an active seat will all help to cure the problem.

This is the angle my leg is at when I trail ride:

10-4B.jpg
 

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Try focusing on sinking into your seat, imagine that you are trying to "meld" with it, this means stretching your heels down a god deal and trying to put more weight in your stirrups(not for all of your riding, just for this process, it will be a lot less exaggerated when you finally master a good western seat, try doing this while just standing still). Or you can take your feet out of the stirrups and stretching your toes down as far as you can get them, then pull your toes up and stretch your heels down, alternate for a few minutes to get your legs nice and stretched and you will tense a lot less when you canter. I see a lot of english riders trying to "grip" the horse with their legs and since the stirrups are so much longer, they tense up causing their feet to fall out of the stirrups. Just stretch and plant your butt firmly in that seat and focus on relaxing into your stirrups and you should have no problems after a bit.

This is a oooold pic(like 5 years), but is shows my general stirrup length and I have terribly short little legs. newts ride.jpg
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thanks everyone, it really did help reading the comments.

Once I stop forgetting to bring my camera (not to mention trying to find someone who will take pics) I will get some pictures. To me I feel like I don't even have a bend in my leg, which I'm sure I do, but it feels like I don't. They are just so long and it's going to take me forever to get used to. I'm 5'1 and very petite so if things keep going the way they are now (western riding wise) I'm going to fricken become a jockey :lol:

Anyhow, I tried to "sit deep on my pockets" and it did make the world of a difference.
 

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try them shorter. In between "joskey" and long long ones. (though jockey are SOO short, that not even a correct analogy,lol) :) good luck!
 

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I had the same problem. I went from english to western as well. I have a feeling you are automatically rolling forward onto your pelvis, because that's the way it's done in the hunt world. You are pulling your legs to a comfortable english position without even realizing you are doing it. The horse probably speeds up on you also.

Try to OPEN your pelvis, think pickets. Lean back but keep your shoulders straight, you'll almost feel like you are leaning backwards and then your legs are going to wat to slide forward, don't let them. Pull them back to the right position. Do not put your weight in the balls of your feet, put it in your heels. It's a completely different ride.

going from western to english appears to be the easier transition. For me, english to western has been really difficult. My horse is really young so in this picture we are still heavy on the forehand and have not quite acheived headset at the lope BUT. You can kind of see the positioning of my legs/feet. I don't know if it will help you or not. (and you can see I'm still fighting to not roll into that english motion).
rilope.jpg
 

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A good rule of thumb for stirrup length that you can check yourself is to take your feet out of the stirrups, relax your legs and let them hang. The bottom of the stirrup should hit you about at the ankle bone.

Make sure you sit back, pull your shoulders back and keep your heels down. I rode Dressage for a year and switched to Western and I still have to keep telling myself to bring my upper body & shoulders back.
 

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Another thing that helps a n English rider transition is to have a sort of "chair" seat at first to help you roll back on your pelvis like Farmpony said, this puts your butt and body in the right position(remembering to sit straight and bring your shoulders back though), then after you get this down you can worry about getting your legs themselves in the right position...
 

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I ride with my foot fully in the stirrup, right up to the ankle and when picking a lope across a field actually drop my toe DOWN
Watch movies like Man from Snowy rivers. Watch how those riders point the toe down , and I mean really down. While this is a movie they still have stunt riders doing the riding.
I ride the same way, toes down at a lope. You will also find by putting the toes down you lock yourself tighter into the saddle.

If I am riding a broncy horse my toes are really down and this locks my calves into the saddle.

This is NOT ME but a good example of a guy with a good lock on the horse and a good picture of how I use my toes to lock in
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Thanks Farmpony and Riosdad, those pictures and comments helped out alot. And thanks to everyone else who posted. Ridehorses, I'll have to tell myself that. Farmpony, that is EXACTLY what I'm doing,! "pulling your legs to a comfortable english position."

I was always taught to point my toes up so pointing them down is going to be a hard transition. So far it all feels unnatural to me, I'm positive I'll get over it. When my trainer isn't there I always hike the stirrups up ( I'm going myself no good). I'm hoping I'll just wean myself and every time I ride I'll go down a hole or two.

I'm so glad I'm not the only one this has happened too. Whenever I tell my trainer she just looks at me like I'm crazy, she mostly rides and trains Western but she does alot of English/hunter.
 

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I ride with my foot fully in the stirrup, right up to the ankle and when picking a lope across a field actually drop my toe DOWN
Watch movies like Man from Snowy rivers. Watch how those riders point the toe down , and I mean really down. While this is a movie they still have stunt riders doing the riding.
I ride the same way, toes down at a lope. You will also find by putting the toes down you lock yourself tighter into the saddle.
I was always told to NEVER put your foot in that far. If you ever fall off your foot won't be able to slide out of the stirrup and you'll get drug.
Just my 2 cents :wink:
 

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I was always told to NEVER put your foot in that far. If you ever fall off your foot won't be able to slide out of the stirrup and you'll get drug.
Just my 2 cents :wink:
I don't ride in western boots, I like running shoes but the original western boot was ment to go right in to the heal. All the way in.
It is also about leverage. If you take your weight on the toes you are pulling on the back of the leg. If you bury your foot all the way in close to the heal the weight is less on the muscle and more on the bone.
Cowboys would not ride on their toes.
Everything you do to lessen the weight on the mucscle cuts down on fatigue and riding with deep stirrups is a way to cut down fatigue.
That said the running shoe would come off if for some reason I got dumped.
I usually go head over heals at least once a year, the horse trips and down we go and I have never yet had anything hang up, somehow my feet always come out.
I also hate loosing a stirrup at a lope and have to fish around upsetting the horse with trying to find a stirrup.
I take a deep seating and point the toes down.

Do what works and not what some instructor who rides in circles every once and a while says.
Those that can do and those that can't teach.
 
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