While I am in the arena teaching and often while I observe different riders, the biggest single problem I notice novice riders having is not focusing enough on correcting their leg position. We all know that our legs are a vitally important part of our aids. However, we often don’t think about how correcting our leg in the saddle can then influence the rest of our body while riding.
Having a strong support system in effect underneath you means that you no longer rely on your horse for balance and support. It means that you are independent, not only of your horse, but also of yourself. Your legs and arms can move independently of each other, your seat can be where it is supposed to be in any given situation. In fact, you can even begin to positively influence your horse’s way of going, creating balance, confidence and togetherness that is otherwise missing when you are not supporting yourself.
1. Your leg is underneath you
If we could, at any given time when you are on your horse, magically ‘click’ our fingers and make your horse vanish, would you land squarely on your feet? Not on your face, as is would happen with a fork seat, and not on your backside, as would happen if you ride with your lower leg close to or on your horse’s shoulder. Keep your leg under you, not behind you, not in front of you. Ask someone to take photographs of you while you ride and study them. Then begin making those changes.
2. The angle of your foot in the stirrup
Pay close attention to how your foot is positioned in the stirrup. Place the stirrup close to the ball of your foot on the inside and angle it to the nail of your little toe on the outside. This ‘line’ is a good indicator of where you want that stirrup to be underneath your foot. You need the stirrup diagonally across your foot, not straight across,to allow your ankle joint the flexibility it needs to be the shock absorber and movement absorber you need it to be to have a great base of support.
3. That your weight is dropped into your heels
Lastly, make sure that as you ride, your weight is always on the heel, not the toe, not the stirrup; Just straight down into the heel. When you post, when you are in the light seat, even when you are just walking around the arena cooling off, be certain that your weight is dropped deep into your heel. This does not mean forcing your heels down into an uncomfortable and rigid position, just that your heel is more weighted than the other parts of your foot. If you have been riding for any length of time like a ballerina (on your tippy toes) this will feel strange at first but persevere because, trust me, once you master this…. Oh the riding you will do!
Obviously there is more to riding that just making sure your legs are in the correct place, however this is always a good place to start, to help you begin building both your confidence and effectiveness in the saddle.
There are details below for you to join the free 30 Day Rider Fitness Challenge to help you have more control and mindfullness over your aids in the saddle.
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