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View Full Version : Knee Pinching..oooh the horrors



StevieandMelissa
Jan. 6, 2010, 12:41 PM
Hello everyone! I'm new here. Before I begin, I think some brief info on my riding experience may be beneficial. I've been riding for 8-9 years now, leased a horse for one year, and finally bought a horse several years ago. My horse is an absolutely wonderful OTTB, 7 years old.

The problem: As of late, I've become a knee pincher. I never used to have this problem and I don't know how in the world I developed it, but it is awful! My trainer suggested riding a lot in two-point (which I've been doing). It has helped somewhat and I will continue to do it. However, it has also been suggested to me that I try riding with my stirrups tied to my girth for 3-4 rides in order to develop a proper feel in my leg. Would this be helpful? If yes, how would I attach my stirrups to my girth?

Also, any additional suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

luvs2ridewbs
Jan. 6, 2010, 01:38 PM
I would suggest riding without your stirrups and trying to keep your leg as long as possible. Really opening your knee angle until its correct without losing your hip and heel angles.

Petstorejunkie
Jan. 6, 2010, 01:41 PM
Is your horse particularly sensitive to leg cues? Was he a bit flighty when you got him?
You have to figure out why you started to effectively and permanently stop.

snaffle635
Jan. 6, 2010, 01:46 PM
Fellow knee pincher here!

I tied my stirrups for a few months! Tie it with something that will break in case of an emergency. You can use baling twine, but I prefer leather spur straps.

Fasten the spur strap around the inside branch of the stirrup iron, then thread it through your girth. Make it loose enough to allow your toe to turn out, but not soloose that your leg can swing back.

I will feel really weird at first and you'll probably be sore. You'll be building new muscle memory and eventually this leg position will feel normal.

It helped me a lot...and I could probably use a tune up now that I think of it.

During the time I was doing this, I also rode a ton with a bareback pad. That helped a lot too.

BTW, I think it's against the rules to ride anywhere on usef showgrounds with your stirrups like this. Just do it at home. (Plus, you'll look kind of silly.) :-)

Donkey
Jan. 6, 2010, 01:47 PM
Maybe some of this will help... Your knees should point outwards the same degree as your toes. Make sure your toes are not pointing too parellel to your horse - go for 45 degrees. Make sure you can feel your ankle on the horse when putting your leg on - knee pinching can develop because you are feeling like you have to pull up your heel to dig it into your horse to make them go! which causes your lower leg lose it's stability hence the pinching to compensate for the insecurity (ironically).

Only ride without stirrups if you can tell when you are pinching and when you're not otherwise it may become an ineffective exercise.

Lots of two point because whenever you start to lose your balance or feel insecure - you're pinching!

pwrpfflynn
Jan. 6, 2010, 03:49 PM
My riding instructor tied my stirrups and I loved it. I felt so much more secure know that my leg couldn't move back.

myalter1
Jan. 6, 2010, 03:54 PM
I used to pinch my knees terribly as a jr. It was not until i learned, as an adult, to ride off my calf and use my entire leg (thigh, seat, etc.) effectively that I stopped. I agree with the poster who suggested you figure out why you started. While tying your stirrups may help, you need to get to the root of the problem.

ParadoxFarm
Jan. 6, 2010, 06:51 PM
I find that when riding without stirrups I can STILL pinch with my knees.

I had not heard of tying stirrups before. I only pinch going over fences. Seems it may be dangerous doing this over fences. Has anyone done this will jumping?

Carol Ames
Jan. 6, 2010, 07:11 PM
What kind of/ style of saddle are riding in? Some can cause/ encourage this.; in general those with bigger knee rolls. think Steuben Sigfried, among others ; have someone put their hand under your knee while you release the muscles in your thigh and hip, and imagine that you have an air pillow under your knee:lol: find a Centered Riding Instructor to help you:winkgrin:

sptraining
Jan. 6, 2010, 07:13 PM
How's your saddle fitting you? Has anything changed with your or your horse lately?

I second bareback. Also, make sure that your weight is equally distributed across your foot on your stirrup. It's hard to pinch if your weight is correct in your stirrup. Stretch out your hamstrings at home. That should help as well.

Go Fish
Jan. 6, 2010, 07:21 PM
Are you riding with a closed hip?

FlashGordon
Jan. 6, 2010, 07:28 PM
Are you riding with a closed hip?

Was going to say something similar....

IME the problem actually originates higher up, with your seat and your pelvis.

Track down a good dressage trainer who is biomechanically inclined or into centered riding, you will be amazed.... Extra points if said trainer has also been an H/J rider at some point.

StevieandMelissa
Jan. 6, 2010, 09:01 PM
Hello everyone! Thank you for all of the wonderful information. To answer some of the questions I have received:

1.) Nope, my darling horse has never been sensitive to the leg..ever. Though he is an ex-racehorse, he thinks he is a 35 year old quarter horse. This trait is both good and bad.

2.) I think (I'm not sure) that the reason why I started pinching has to do with the fact that last year, I didn't do much riding because it was my first year in graduate school. Unfortunately, 6 months prior to starting grad school, I learned how to push my horse into the bridle and get him to round and bend. I think I must have lost some muscle somewhere which has yet to come back and whenever I begin to squeeze my legs to get him into the bridle, I start pinching.

3.) Yes, I have totally knee-pinched over jumps before...woo...that's exciting. In fact, I didn't stop until very recently when suddenly my body just got it. I'm not quite sure what or why that happened, but I'm much more secure now.

4.) I ride in a 16.5 in close contact saddle by Ovation.

5.) Yes, something has changed with me and my horse. The last 7 months he has been partial leased by a very talented junior rider. They are excellent together. However, due to her family's financial constraints, she uses my saddle (I don't know if this has anything to do with anything). Personally, my body has changed in the last six months. Since I had my birthday, my body's fat deposits have distributed themselves in very bizarre ways and I'm a little bummed about it.

Sorry for the novel. I found everyone's suggestions very helpful. Thank you!

ilmjumper
Jan. 6, 2010, 10:04 PM
I'm trying to fix a knee pinch as well! Learning SaddleSeat Eq has really hurt my Huntseat Eq, leaving me pinching on the flat, especially at the trot. So I'm doing lots and lots and lots of no stirrup work and have also been making myself ride in my pancake saddle instead of my super comfy Nona G :( BUT like someone else said, removing the knee rolls makes it harder to pinch!

ilmjumper
Jan. 6, 2010, 10:10 PM
PS! Is it possible that your leasee rides with a slightly different stirrup length and you haven't noticed the change?

pwrpfflynn
Jan. 7, 2010, 01:07 PM
paradoxfarm: We always jumped with our stirrups tied. That's the only time my leg ever moved back was when I was jumping over a fence.

analise
Jan. 7, 2010, 01:13 PM
I'd definitely check stirrup length and knee rolls. Fixing both of those (my saddle has removeable knee-rolls) helped me a lot with pinching.

BAC
Jan. 7, 2010, 05:12 PM
What kind of/ style of saddle are riding in? Some can cause/ encourage this.; in general those with bigger knee rolls.

I was told the exact opposite by a saddle fitter. He said the larger knee roll would help prevent knee pinching by the way it placed your leg and that you would be more apt to pinch when riding in a flat saddle without knee rolls. The large knee roll is supposed to situate your leg so that it would be difficult to pinch with your knees. I don't kow if I am describing it properly but it made sense to me.

serendipityhunter
Jan. 7, 2010, 05:59 PM
I did lunge lessons with my dressage instructor while my horse was on lay-up, it has totally reformed and improved my position!!

Foxtrot's
Jan. 7, 2010, 06:38 PM
I'm British - read: I heard "Grrrrip with the knees" a lot from instructors.
When I became a George Morris devotee I attempted to change, and then realized I was lifting my lower leg because I was afraid of stabbing the horse over the fence with my spurs, so by removing them it became easier to not worry and have the whole leg on. However, when nip comes to tuck, I still grrrip with the knee and fall back into my childhood habits. But, my kids do not grrrip with the knee, at all, at all. They equitate quite nicely. If you look in Horse and Hound's there are some very successful grrrippers there, even if they look weird to a North American trained eye.

AnotherRound
Jul. 21, 2010, 09:07 AM
I was told the exact opposite by a saddle fitter. He said the larger knee roll would help prevent knee pinching by the way it placed your leg and that you would be more apt to pinch when riding in a flat saddle without knee rolls. The large knee roll is supposed to situate your leg so that it would be difficult to pinch with your knees. I don't kow if I am describing it properly but it made sense to me.

wow, only if your knee rolls were so fluffy they turned your knees out!

I suggest a flat unpadded saddle; you can easily see how you are placing your leg and learn to hold it correctly, and not have the saddle force it into any position. If you are pinching with your knees in a close contact saddle, you'll know. When you have your leg correct, you will immediatly see it. No need for padding, why? If you need a saddle to hold you onto the horse,

MORE TWO POINT!!:D

hntrjmprpro45
Jul. 21, 2010, 11:18 AM
When I was a jr, I knee pinched like crazy but only on one horse- a large pony actually. We didn't look too bad together since I have a fairly short torso but my leg was waaaaaayyyyy too long for her. We did jumpers so the looks didn't really matter. The way her sides were built, I could not reasonably get my calf on without cranking up my stirrups 5 holes. What made it even harder to fix was that it did not negatively effect the way I jumped. It looked awful in photographs, but I never got out of balance in the air. It was a weird "chapter" in my riding, and normally I wouldn't have shown a pony but quite frankly we kicked serious tail in the jumper ring. Not too many ponies that can jump 4'3" nicely :) Lol, I did some clinics with a few international GP riders and their only comment about my uh-"style" was that it looked very European. Don't worry I know that wasn't a complement.

On every other horse, it hasn't been a problem but it has become one of those things that I constantly worry about. Its quite unsightly, and can be the type of thing that sneaks up on you.

KateKat
Jul. 21, 2010, 11:50 AM
who ever said it comes from the hips is right! I've learned this from my pilates. I tend to be a knee pincher because my hips are pretty inflexible, so they aren't able to rotate and open when mounted (if you can imagine someone standing knock kneed, thats an exaggerated version of how my legs are out from my hips). So of course, the tight hips naturally cause my upper leg to be tighter on the horse than my lower legs.

So...I would second the suggestion to find someone to help you on opening your hips, whether this be a qualified dressage instructor or taking some pilates classes.

RugBug
Jul. 21, 2010, 12:12 PM
I was told the exact opposite by a saddle fitter. He said the larger knee roll would help prevent knee pinching by the way it placed your leg and that you would be more apt to pinch when riding in a flat saddle without knee rolls. The large knee roll is supposed to situate your leg so that it would be difficult to pinch with your knees. I don't kow if I am describing it properly but it made sense to me.

I've found the exact opposite to be true. I grew up riding in a pancake and never had a problem with pinching. I still dont' have a huge problem with it, but it is more apparent in saddles with lots of knee roll. In fact, This saddle (http://i52.photobucket.com/albums/g14/slorugbug/Elf/DSC_9053.jpg) make me pinch something terrible if I don't consciously think about not pinching. Not so much with this one (http://i52.photobucket.com/albums/g14/slorugbug/horse%20stuff/Showabouttowander.jpg)

The saddle fitter talked me into some knee rolls on my new saddle with a "we can always take them off", but I did get the smallest ones available.

Carol Ames
Jul. 22, 2010, 06:25 AM
Find a Centered Riding instructor to help you open your hips gently:cool:; or, try cranial sacral therapy; I disagree with the saddler; He is giving you the c"company line" about knee rolls; as an instructor, I can tell you that knee rolls do encourage people to pinch with their knees; just ask George Morris:yes:

Carol Ames
Jul. 22, 2010, 06:26 AM
Find a Centered Riding instructor to help you open your hips gently:cool:; or, try cranial sacral therapy; I disagree with the saddler; He is giving you the c"company line" about knee rolls; as an instructor, I can tell you that knee rolls do encourage people to pinch with their knees:eek:; just ask George Morris:yes:

doublesstable
Jul. 22, 2010, 12:21 PM
who ever said it comes from the hips is right! I've learned this from my pilates. I tend to be a knee pincher because my hips are pretty inflexible, so they aren't able to rotate and open when mounted (if you can imagine someone standing knock kneed, thats an exaggerated version of how my legs are out from my hips). So of course, the tight hips naturally cause my upper leg to be tighter on the horse than my lower legs.

So...I would second the suggestion to find someone to help you on opening your hips, whether this be a qualified dressage instructor or taking some pilates classes.


I agree with this too. In lesson just last week - I WAS ABLE TO TWO POINT LIKE MAD... It was great. It came from opening the hip, dropping in the heel and wraping my leg around the horse with toes slightly pointing out. Had my pinky toes touching the outside of the stirrup bars....

I have had knee pinching issues too - - so I get what you are talking about. I think this is not an uncommon problem.

Also I did notice I do it more when horse is too responsive to lower leg. Maybe the gal riding him is expecting or making him be a bit more forward off the leg???

Hunter Mom
Jul. 23, 2010, 09:42 AM
I find that when riding without stirrups I can STILL pinch with my knees.

I had not heard of tying stirrups before. I only pinch going over fences. Seems it may be dangerous doing this over fences. Has anyone done this will jumping?

I do occasionally - I'm also a pincher sometimes and can let my leg slip too far back. I use a doubled loop of yarn tied in a bow. It will definitely break if you get in trouble, but keeps your stirrup where it should be the other 99% of the time.

LetsGoSteady
Jul. 23, 2010, 11:59 AM
Fellow knee-pincher here :)

When I rode in full chaps everyday, I didn't pinch (had a heck of a time in breeches and boots at shows though). Fast forward to the last few years of riding in breeches everyday, and I started the knee-pinching.

Awareness is a big one for me. My coach has me turn me knees way out for a few minutes at a time. It feels absurd from the saddle but it does make the point of "NO KNEE"!

I also practice my two-point during cool-down, at the walk, by putting my crop under my calf (about 2" above paddock boot height), and using it to help pinpoint the right muscles for grip. At the walk it is easy to look down and concentrate on using the back of the calf and thigh, and the feel of the crop helps to program it into the muscle memory for me. Switch sides and repeat.

Since I am a recent offender and like to practice, I'm turning it around pretty fast :)