View Full Version : Lower leg is swinging, but my knee isn't touching the saddle - help?

May. 18, 2010, 01:14 PM
I'm at my wits' end, and I'm pretty sure my trainer is, too. I'm having trouble keeping my lower leg quiet at the canter. For the past few weeks, my trainer's solution to has been to scream at me to "get my knee off the saddle."

In general, this is sound advice. But lately, my knee isn't in contact with the saddle when my leg wobbles. If I look down, I can see a couple of inches of air between my knee and the saddle. The trainer does not believe me when I tell her this. Her response last time I asked was, "I can't help you."

So, I'm asking here. Any advice for a guy whose leg (as my trainer put it) "swings like a pendulum" even though my knee isn't on the saddle?

Thanks in advance to anyone who can help with this.

May. 18, 2010, 01:20 PM
I have the same problem - leg has a mind of it's own and I can't seem to control it. Tried everything; no stirrup work, concentrate, etc. No suggestions, but I'll lurk to see if someone does. Just wanted to comiserate!

May. 18, 2010, 01:20 PM
What kind of stirrup iron are you using? The "bendy" irons with a joint make my legs do something similar. I switched back to plain irons and problem solved.

May. 18, 2010, 01:27 PM
Is your horse slab-sided?

Seriously, I'm a huge stickler for not gripping with the knee... but you shouldn't have 2 inches of space between it and the saddle either... There has to be SOME contact between your leg and the horse. If its not in your knee or lower leg... then WHERE is it?

something weird is going on here. Either you are way too big for your horse, horse is slab-sided, or your tack doesn't fit.

Pictures would help...

May. 18, 2010, 02:05 PM
I know I'm going to get flamed for this, but try tying your stirrup to the girth, just for a bit until your leg gets the idea. It's all about muscle memory... and since you've tried the other logical things to do, this might help. Once you get how it feels to have your leg not swing, don't tie anymore and try and replicate the feeling.

*flame suit on*

May. 18, 2010, 02:07 PM
As you get your knee off the horse you have to hold with your thigh. Not squeeze but hold with your thigh and your leg will anchor in place. ;)

May. 18, 2010, 02:13 PM
Forget about your lower leg. Think of it just being there because it happens to be attached to your knee. Think about your seat/thigh instead.

That helped me, so did thinking of pushing my feet forward. I went through a long phase where my leg was too far under me, which tossed me off balance in the canter stride and caused a leg swing. I had been conditioned too far into the "anti chair seat" side of the spectrum! :D

May. 18, 2010, 02:56 PM
Its hard to answer without seeing what is actually going on.

I agree that the knee should "not" be "off" the saddle. The leg works as a unit and is an asset to controling the horse....

Pinching w/ the knee typically causes the lower leg to swing - but saying that you are addressing it says to me (guessing here) your horse has a rocky canter... ?? So with that you must take up the swing "someplace" in your body and yours is your lower leg.

There are a lot of variables - such as saddle, horse, your body position etc.

1) Are your irons/leathers too in-front so your legs swings?

2) If your horse is like a rocking horse, take up the swing in your seat and hip area.... holding with your calf... soft knee...

3) Are your irons too long so you aren't weighting your heels? Make sure your irons are the right length for you - weight your heels keeping you lower leg at the girth.

4) Is your saddle poorly fitted? Does it put you in a chair position where your are on your rear-end and leg too far forward swinging along?

As you can see - It could be many things. IF you can, post a video or photos.. maybe that will help pin-point the issue.

May. 18, 2010, 03:21 PM
try tying your stirrup to the girth, just for a bit until your leg gets the idea.


May. 18, 2010, 03:21 PM
I'm going to say what I always say..

Get rid of your stirrups!

I can't believe your trainer hasn't suggested this.

If I had a student who was having any sort of leg trouble as far as swinging, not able to have a solid base foundation, those stirrups would be gone faster than they could blink!

You will be forced to keep your whole leg solid along your horse and if it swings so will you, right off the horse!

May. 18, 2010, 03:39 PM
Or you can be like me and ride amazing without irons and as soon as your feet go back in you forget how to do that. :lol: The thigh hold did it for me, its riding with your seat. ;) Also another thing I've noticed is if you don't post correctly, as in up and down inside of letting the horse push you up and forward into your hands you will have more of a swinging leg. As in you post from your feet.

May. 18, 2010, 05:23 PM
What kind of saddle are you using? There are a few tips you could try:

1) try riding without stirrups, stretch your leg long and hug with your inner thigh and calf. Try that exercise for a few minutes every time you ride. It will help your legs stay still at the canter

2) When cantering with your stirrups keep in mind to hug your legs around your horse. Squeezing with your inner thigh and calf.

Hope that helps!

May. 20, 2010, 10:47 PM
You are most likely pressing too hard on the stirrups. You're weight is on the stirrup rather than sinking around you're horse. Think about lifting your toe and bending your knees. You're knee IS suppose to touch the saddle, just not grip. Work without stirrups, but balance that work equally with your stirrups. You need to be able to maintain the same feel with your stirrups as you do without them. Those who ride better without stirrups, myself included, are relying to much on their irons. A good exercise is to drop both stirrups, get the feel you want and then pick up ONE stirrup at a time. You will be suprised how hard this is and how many of your weaknesses it exposes.

May. 21, 2010, 12:05 AM
Have you tried posting the canter? Not sure if that would help stablize your leg or not, but it certainly helped me bring my leg into the correct position, it was hard to keep my balance otherwise.

May. 21, 2010, 12:55 AM
I had the same issue! Turns out that I had all the weight on the outside of my foot, knee off the saddle, and because of that, an unstable leg. My trainer has been working with me about putting the weight more on the inside of my foot and having my lower leg contact the horse(and my knees too). In one of my lessons, she put a small rock under the outside part of my foot! It did work though, but now I've ditched the rock! :lol: My riding has improved drastically and I feel one hundred times more stable. I'm still working on it, but my leg is much much quieter and my knees are touching the saddle.

May. 21, 2010, 01:01 AM
My guess would be one of two things.
A) as someone else suggested, you are placing to much weight in your irons and are sitting ON your horse, rather than wrapping your leg around him.

Or B) You are focusing too much on your leg and getting stiff or locked up in your lower back and hips.

Think about stretching tall from your core, relaxing your leg so your thigh and subsequently calf can wrap around your horses barrel, and think about following your horses motion with your hips. Also think lift the toe rather than force your heel down.

May. 21, 2010, 02:05 AM
Turn your toes out. You should be touching the horse with the inside back quarter of your calf below the widest part of your calf. It makes it nearly impossible for your leg to swing because the horses body stablizes it. If your toes are pointed ofrward it is very easy for your leg to swing.