I am a 31 year old dressage rider, who is recently getting back into jumping after many years of riding in a dressage saddle. I am really having trouble adjusting to the shorter stirrup length. My ankles are killing me! I find that I can only ride for a few minutes before I have to stop and kick my feet out of the stirrups for a bit. I don't remember this happening when I used to jump in my early 20s. Will this pain go away once I get used to the shorter stirrups again? Is there anything I can do reduce the pressure on my ankles? Special stirrup irons? Stretching? Any advice appreciated.
Don't try to force your body into a position it's not ready for. Go back to your dressage length, and then go half a hole shorter. Ride like that for a week or so, then shorten them another half hole. The gradual shortening gives your body time to adjust. I'm sure you wouldn't expect your horse to make such a sudden adjustment, go just as easy on yourself.
Like the above poster said, don't try to force yourself into a position. I am naturally duck footed (it sucks lol) and for the longest time, I had trainers always telling me to stick my feet forward. Well, when I did that I buckled with my ankles and almost All of my weight was on my ankles/tendons in that area. I had Super inflamed tendons for the longest time. Now I have finally figured out how to point my toes somewhat forward without pain. Maybe that's it?
I agree with everyone about slowly adjusting to the new length. I did the same thing when getting used to longer stirrups. I was working in France for a couple weeks and everyone at the farm rode more dressage style and I've been a hunter/eq rider my whole life, and I ride short as it is, so on the first ride I tried putting my stirrups all the way down as long as theirs, and I was so uncomfortable the whole ride and so sore the next day, so then I went back to my own stirrup length and every few days I'd go one hole lower. By the end I was riding almost as long as everyone else.
Also make sure you're keeping your weight on the ball of your foot. I have double jointed ankles so sometimes I get my heel too far down and end up pushing more weight into my heel rather than on the ball.
I agree with PP about the jointed irons. I am 30 and (though I am sure some folks here will laugh at this) I am starting to notice my body doesn't bounce back like it used to! When I started jumping after several years off I had a mild amount of knee pain and discomfort- and I have never had knee problems in my life! The jointed irons aleviated that immediately.