View Full Version : My legs WILL NOT go back! Help?

Jun. 7, 2011, 04:10 PM
I have been struggling with a problem with my legs for a while now. I have always been taught that the correct leg position is a straight line from hips to heels. Unfortunatly, I cannot seem to make this happen. My leg is always in front of me, no matter what. I have had my trainer and my mother (we keep our horses at home) adjust my leg while at a halt so that I can see where my leg needs to be. However, when my leg is in the "correct" position, I feel like it is behind me and completely unnatural and uncomfortable. Could it be my saddle? It is a Crosby Equilibrium 17" which is actually a little too big for me. My pony is also built more downhill, if that makes a difference. Thanks!

Picture of my terrible leg:

Jun. 7, 2011, 04:13 PM
I would definitely check your saddle - both for positioning for you and fit for the horse. If he's already downhill, add on a saddle that doesn't sit right and that you have to fight against and you'll have one heck of a time getting anything in the right place.

I would try a couple different saddles to see if you can feel a difference and have a fitter take a look.

Jun. 7, 2011, 04:15 PM
I thought it was going to be worse than it is.

I dont really have any advice...I can just relate...kinda! I recently took my first lesson in 2 years, and apparently I have developed a lovely habit of leaning forward a bit when trotting. The way I have been fixing it, I basically have to feel like im leaning back...reallllly far back. So maybe you can just ride feeling like your leg is too far back? Good luck! I know how hard it is to change something you've gotten used to!

Jun. 7, 2011, 04:17 PM
Thanks I will definatly check saddle fit! This is actually one of the "better" photos. Usually it looks much worse!

Jun. 7, 2011, 04:37 PM
well...yes, its going to feel unnatural and uncomfortable at first. That tells you that you're changing something. Like for me, I don't put my foot in my iron enough so my trainer has been yelling at me to shove my foot in. Does it feel weird? Oh yea. Does my foot consistently seek out the "comfortable" position? Oh yea. So you have to really *think* about it each time you ride and eventually, what is uncomfortable will become comfortable.

Saddle can also make a big difference.

Another thing to double check is make sure you aren't tight in your hips and hamstrings. If you're tight there, its going to be doubly hard to keep that leg back, heel down.

Jun. 7, 2011, 04:48 PM
If the saddle is big, you might be sitting too far back. Your leg looks like it is pretty near where it should be, near the girth. Maybe an inch or so forward. Try posting closer to the pommel and not getting lost in the seat rather than worrying about your leg. It looks like you have a very long upper leg so you may be fighting your own conformation. You might be more comfortable (and sit better) in a longer flap saddle.

BTW, I agree that I was expecting much worse from your original post. It's not like your feet are up on the dashboard!

Jun. 7, 2011, 05:47 PM
Try lengthening your stirrups a bit. Sometimes if your stirrups are too short it causes you to push your leg more forward then back. Good luck!

Jun. 7, 2011, 09:01 PM
I found that when I switched from my Crosby PDN to my used County Stabilizer, my leg moved back and it felt more natural. I grew up riding in the 80s with more of a chair seat and my toes pointed horribly out so it has been a real challeng to untrain myself! One thing I do is to take a look down and if my toes are peaking out in front of my knees, I move em back! I was surprised though by the saddle. My old one was very flat with no knee rolls.

Jun. 7, 2011, 09:41 PM
If the stirrup bars are placed too far forward for your leg, it will put you in a chair seat.

If the saddle is too narrow it will tip you backward and your legs will shoot out in front of you.

It's very difficult to keep your position when you're fighting your tack.

Jun. 7, 2011, 10:09 PM
Ditto checking the saddle fit.
Also, does your leg do this on other horses? There have been some occasions where the conformation of the horse affects my leg position.

Jun. 7, 2011, 10:17 PM
Platinum, if that's what your leg usually looks like, then I don't think you have a problem. I just did a clinic with Bernie Traurig and I've been spending a lot of time on his website, equestriancoach.com. Bernie naturally rides with a slightly forward leg and says it's perfect acceptable. Maybe check out some of his videos and photos?

He also has an exercise called 'Range of Motion' - it's meant for people whose legs are too far back - but you could probably adapt it to moving your leg slightly back if you like.

Melissa.Van Doren
Jun. 7, 2011, 10:18 PM
If the stirrup bars are placed too far forward for your leg, it will put you in a chair seat.

If the saddle is too narrow it will tip you backward and your legs will shoot out in front of you.

It's very difficult to keep your position when you're fighting your tack.


It can help to think about sitting over your leg, instead of trying to draw your leg back... but if your saddle doesn't fit you and/or your horse correctly, you can try all you want and just earn frustration.

Jun. 7, 2011, 10:30 PM
Can you ride in a different saddle once or twice and see if that helps? Borrow from a friend? :)

At one point I was riding 2 or 3 lesson horses fairly consistently, who all happened to share the same saddle. I was sitting in a chair seat BIG TIME and couldn't get my legs under me for anything. One day I rode a new lesson horse, with a different saddle, and lo and behold - perfect leg position. Sometimes the saddle makes more difference than we realize!

Jun. 7, 2011, 10:33 PM
Try padding under the back of the saddle to lift the cantle. This won't solve any problems, but it may help you figure out if it's the saddle or not.

Jun. 7, 2011, 10:44 PM
I struggle with this constantly as well.

I've found that I need to concentrate on gripping with my knees more and sitting on the front of my pubic area rather than my tailbone. I have a tendency to want to turn my toes out a bit, put my leg forward, and grip with my calves. Focusing on distributing the weight evenly from heel to hip has helped me a lot. I've also dropped my stirrups on one horse for the last 8 months and that's helped my leg position tremendously. It didn't help that my last big jumper needed me to ride her with my seat more than my leg, so I developed too much of a driving seat, and boy did that feed into my habit!

FWIW, it took me quite a while of shoving my leg back to have it feel normal. And really it took the no-stirrups work (while consciously thinking of where my legs were) to build the muscles around that position. Now it's relatively easy for me to stay in the right position on my two big jumpers, but throw me on my baby and I'm right back to my more defensive position (people have asked in other threads how riding babies can give you bad position, and all anyone has to do is check out my pictures of my position on my baby to see! :lol:)

Jun. 7, 2011, 11:24 PM
Try riding in other saddles. If the problem persists, focus on making your hips/lower back more flexible. Read some stuff about centered riding (I believe Sally Swift is the oft-cited author here) to get ideas for working on your hips.

I was amazed how much my legs improved when we worked on opening my leg from the hips, just like a ballet dancer achieves correct turnout from the hips. It also made me a more even rider left/right, as we discovered I have naturally more flexibility on one side than the other (probably thanks to tending to sleep with my left leg jacked up under my chin while I sleep on my stomach).

Jun. 8, 2011, 12:01 AM
I feel your pain, I have the same exact problem. A knew saddle helped A LOT. You can also put masking tape on the bottom of your stirrup bar so the leather hang back a little more.

Jun. 8, 2011, 12:09 AM
Thank you so much everyone. I am definatly going to check on saddle fit and see if I can ride in some different saddles. Also going to try lengthening the stirrups.

Jun. 8, 2011, 12:49 AM
Try lengthening your stirrups a bit. Sometimes if your stirrups are too short it causes you to push your leg more forward then back. Good luck!


And after lengthening your stirrups try: Getting your seat position by standing up in two point, sinking STRAIGHT down towards the ground while sliding your knee also towards the ground (instead of sitting down). If you do that right, you will not be able to raise your heel at all without also raising your knee. Your knee kept as far down towards the ground as possible is the key to a deep seat. Sitting as far forward towards the pommel as possible, (instead of riding the cantle and having to lean forward to stay over the horse's center of balance) will help you. Riders lose that tight seat and slide backwards when they push their heels down and post from their feet. Instead, get a deep seat as above, and think of posting only above your knee (place one hand at mid-thigh and post from there), and think of pulling your toes up and sinking into your heel instead of pushing your heels down, which does also push you back in the saddle.
But sitting forward in the saddle is the key to being able to sit straight up and keep your legs back on your horse's sides.

If you are really struggling to stop leaning forward, try to touch the pommel with the back of your butt each time you post. You will not be able to do that, but thinking about it will make your seat stay forward in the saddle where it belongs, and not back towards the cantle (assuming your stirrup leathers are long enough). Leaning back is not the answer, your forward seat position is the key.

The only time I could ever blame a saddle for my poor leaning forward position was when I rode in a cutback pommel model, that had the seat center way farther back than it should have been.

Jun. 8, 2011, 12:49 AM
Another thing you can try is almost so simple it's stupid. Stand straight up in your stirrups at the walk. It's impossible to have your leg out in front of you at all without falling back into the saddle! That can help you get an idea of where it should be, so you can feel what's right.

Jun. 8, 2011, 01:35 AM
Try lengthening your stirrups a bit. Sometimes if your stirrups are too short it causes you to push your leg more forward then back. Good luck!

I have the same exact problem as the OP, but for me lengthening my stirrups makes it so much worse. I water ski like no other when my stirrups are longer, because they have the length to go that much more in front of me. To each their own though! Good luck OP.

Jun. 8, 2011, 01:59 AM
Try working out to get you legs stronger, especially lots of plyometric exercises, (i.e. weights on a balance board or BOSU). Remember, you are an athlete, most athletes do cross training of some sort.

When I was younger and less strong the type/fit of the saddle made a lot of difference. But now I am fit and strong and much more in my body and I can ride in practically any saddle and be effective.

Also, ride without stirrups, A LOT. Make it hurt!

Lulabell's suggestion was good, too! I'm going to try that tomorrow, actually, might be some fun practice.

Jun. 8, 2011, 02:11 PM
I had the same problem as you did with just my right leg. My trainer told me to scoot my leg back everytime my butt hit the saddle while posting. In the canter every stride physically make yourself put your leg back. It helps a lot. Now, it's just second nature. Also do the same exercise w/o stirrups. As suggested before, ride in a different saddle and see if that helps!

Jun. 8, 2011, 03:44 PM
I had the same problem for years and then worked with a great BNT for a few months in college who helped me so much. We really just worked on my hip angle and that changed everything - my leg and upper body position.... Concentrate on your hips and keeping your knee bent. I would describe the position more, but there are many good trainers on here who could word it better... Just remember, a lot of your leg position is in your hips!

Jun. 8, 2011, 04:21 PM
It looks like your saddle, the flap is super far forward.

Jun. 10, 2011, 12:43 AM
What happens when you take your stirrups off?

Had this problem for years (see thread "saddle fit for rider") and it was always MUCH less sans stirrups. And yes, I could totally feel it going south, I just couldn't fix it. I went through everything, lunge lessons, stirrups tied to girth. Blah, blah. I KNEW it had to do with some combination of seat size and placement of those evil stirrup bars, cause I rode significantly better whatever the saddle if the stirrups went away. You would THINK that having the stirrups back would make things easier, wouldn't you? Isn't that the way it's supposed to work? :p I don't live where it's possible for me to sit in a bunch of different saddles. I went through quite a few trying to fix it. I IMPROVED it some last year because by then I had got smart enough to measure the distance between the deepest part of the seat(the swale?) and bars and got one semi-good fit, and then finally came up with the best thing I've found, this year, next to bareback. As one poster said, I think your upper leg is long, which mine is, too, but it also looks to me like it's much longer than your lower leg, and if that's true, well, from one with that configuration herself, you are a tough fit, lady :) What has finally worked for me is an extra forward flap and SHORT stirrups. I can still have moments where I get out of whack but I'm a different rider - if I go back to the old saddle, I suck. And that was the "improvement" saddle. It is just horrid to fight your tack.

This was my Black Country, great saddle, just not for me, and pretty much what I think is the same leg as you (although as maybe a matter of interest to the other poster, I don't think our back/hip positions are similar at all) http://s49.photobucket.com/albums/f296/cocreate/?action=view&current=WhiskeyHunterPace09.jpg

New saddle (and yeah, more riding time, but not as much as the dates indicate, because I was out for about a year with a shoulder thing and THEN my horse fractured his pelvis - we've only been going strong since about March) http://s49.photobucket.com/albums/f296/cocreate/?action=view&current=WhiskCrumApril2011-1.jpg

Jun. 10, 2011, 11:09 AM
Try a new saddle definitely! Also, perhaps try a little less foot in your stirrup. Flexible stirrups will help you with this.

Best of luck!

Jun. 10, 2011, 03:20 PM
Try a new saddle definitely! Also, perhaps try a little less foot in your stirrup. Flexible stirrups will help you with this.

Best of luck!

Flexible stirrups are horrible for equitation and actually encourage the leg too far forward.

Jun. 10, 2011, 03:37 PM
Try a new saddle definitely! Also, perhaps try a little less foot in your stirrup. Flexible stirrups will help you with this.

Best of luck!

I had them and hated them. They pushed my leg forward on the flat, and allowed it to swing back over fences because it doesn't provide a good base of support. Switching back to regular fillis irons helped immensely.

Jun. 10, 2011, 03:38 PM
It really doesn't look heinous. It would help if you sat more on the inside of your seat. That would probably fix your issue. To me, it looks like you're very far back in your saddle. Do lots of two point and try to sit down with your leg in the exact same position it was in when you were up.

Jun. 10, 2011, 04:17 PM
You might want to try double offset stirrups - they also help me.

Jun. 11, 2011, 02:39 PM
PlatinumEdition, I've been having the same problem, to (from the look of your photo) about the same degree as you, for the past few months. I know that to many folks here the degree of "out in front" doesn't look like an issue, but having your leg even a couple of inches too far forward really changes how your seat affects your horse!

My trainer just had me drop my stirrups a hole, and I spent my last lesson jumping without reins (which really helped me get my leg back underneath me). I'm also finding that as I get more comfortable with my new horse (I moved up from my large pony a few months back) I'm riding less defensively. I would definitely get that saddle checked for fit, though, and the strategies people here have suggested also sound promising. Good luck!