Really didn't know how to title this one, but I'm having major issues with my legs over fences. I tend to ride more from the back of my calf, thus resulting in my left knee and toe turning out over a fence. I have tried focusing on it, even tying my stirrups to my girth to help with my calf and toe and no stirrup work, but it doesn't work. I would really like to fix this especially since i am jumping higher and hopefully going to make my debut in the 3' equitation this year. Any help is GREATLY appreciated! TIA
Could be your conformation making it harder for you. For me, it's my right leg. When I was younger, I never could figure out what my problem was, I was just frustrated that my right toe went out and I couldn't seem to keep it turned more forward. An orthopedist who I went to much later, for an unrelated knee issue, told me that my right hip socket is slightly malformed, too shallow and it has too much range of motion to the outside. When I was running, the lady who fit my shoes (by watching me run), told me I drag my right foot too, probably also from the hip issue. It's subtle, doesn't usually bother, me but it's certainly there and affects how I use my right leg, though no one but me notices.
I still fight that right toe, but one thing that has helped me some are those MDC Comfort Stirrups with the adjustable eye, putting the right stirrup at an angle makes it easier to keep my toe in and also reduce the pain I was having in that hip from rotating my leg in against it's natural inclination.
You will have to re-learn your seat - it starts in your hips.
For example: If you walk along like a dancer, with your legs turned out from the hip turned out down to the knee, turned out over the turned out foot (the knee pointing the same direction the turned out foot is pointing) you are correct for dance, but not for riding.
When you walk or stand like the above, notice that your butt, your seat bones are being smushed together.
You want the opposite when you ride.
You want your seat bones to be spread and open behind you on the saddle.
This is done by thinking of your hips as being pigeon toed when you do that, your seat bones open behind you, your hip in front of you opens/spreads and your leg from your hip on down can drop down the side of the horse. your knees are turned to the front, your feet are turned to the front, and most importantly as a sign, the SIDE of your lower leg is against the horse.
If the back of your lower leg is against the horse, it is a sign that you are closgin up your hips together and your seat bones are tight, and etc.
Try just standing up a bit in the stirrups and turing your legs in. You can even pull the meat of your thigh from the back out as you sit down on the saddle.
Its "spread those butt bones"!
Hope that helps.
Airborne? Oh. Yes, he can take a joke. Once. After that, the joke's on you.
Years ago, when I was riding H/J we were taught to ride this way, toes out calf on, which tends to be a more military style, or so I am told. I rode this way for years and tend to now walk like this.
Over the past few months I have observed that riders nowadays ride with their toes forward instead of pigeon toed. I have to consciously become aware of where my toes are pointing as I ride but yesterday, my new trainer gave me some good tips about how to work it out:
She got into her 2 point on the ground and walked with her toes out, which inevitably causes you to pinch at your knees. It was nearly impossible for her to walk comfortably. However, when she aligned her toes to her knees, in her 2 point still, she could walk well.
This is something she wants me to practice at home and it might be good for you to try as well. My toes aren't as splayed as they were a few months ago when I tried to correct it on my own but you can change it. It is hard and your ankles will be sore but you can make it happen.
I also learned that to hold my feet properly I had to balance more on the outside of my foot because balancing (for me) on the inside tended to make me want to toe out. At first it felt like I was riding with a broken ankle but once I got through the initial weird-ed out phase I can see the difference.
I agree that it comes from the hips- then the knees and toes follow.
If you have an opportunity to take some dressage lessons, or to ride in a dressage saddle with proper supervision, try it. You HAVE to open your hips to sit properly in a dressage saddle, without "reaching" for the stirrups. The "fault" becomes more obvious and is thus (at least in theory) easier to address. Then when you go back to a jumping saddle it will be easier.
But be warned, as you are in the process of stretching the ligaments and strengthening the relevant muscles, you WILL be sore.
For me, the mental image of "pushing my knees down and my heels out" works better than "pushing my heels down and my toes in"
chief feeder and mucker for Music, Spy, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now).
in pics you used to be able to see day light between my knee and the saddle.
what helped me?
thinking, close your knee, over fences.
because of my extreme open knee way of riding, if I just thought about closing my knee, the equitation came just right. I never had issues with pinching with my knee.
also, getting rid of my saddle that had a pencil roll and buying a saddle with blocks. Thus I had something to close my knee on!
Having ridden western (mostly reining and cutting) all my life, this was an issue for me when I started out. I rode with a wide-open hip all the time. Posting without stirrups was a big help. It's hard on the knees, though.
I am working on that problem as we speak and truth be told I feel like I'm getting there quicker every day.
Lots and lots of no stirrup work really help put your leg in the right place.
Also, in my case it honestly came from my leg strength just not being there. Riding tons of horses over the summer as often as possible have really gotten my leg tighter and stronger. Don't have a pic to compare it to yet but I don't look like a frog anymore. Still have lots of work to do though!
If it's conformation, accept it will never change, at least not without far more pain than it's worth, but getting a pancake saddle might hurt a little less without a knee roll shoving things about. (It causes knee pain for me to walk toes forward and borders on physically impossible for me to toe in without dislocating something. It's not any training, I just have VERY open hips. Yay for doing outside-edge spreadeagles in skating, something you're either born able to do or not, yay for Latin, TERRIBLE for Standard, not great but workable for riding.) I have a leg like iron, can sit as deep as I like, but my toes turn out. If I can hold them to 45 degrees, I'm content. The pain, especially in my bad knee, just is more than straight forward's worth.
What Another Round and Janet said about it starting from the hips. I used to have an issue with this, and what one instructor did was roll my thigh fat away from the saddle flap and rotate my entire leg in. I have an easier time focusing on keeping my inner thigh on the saddle rather than thinking about opening my hip. It's crazy what a difference just rotating your leg makes.