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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan. 6, 2013
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    163

    Default Curling leg up

    Recently, one of my bad habits has re-appeared because I have started riding a new horse. I have a terrible habit of curling my leg up when applying a stronger leg aid. I don't know why, I just do. Today I was trying to get an out-of-shape TB mare to leg yield during my lesson, and my instructor had to tell me repeatedly to not curl my leg up when applying my aids. It seems to get worse when I apply my aids behind the girth. Any ideas on how to fix this? Anyone ever had a similar problem?
    "One reason why horses are happy is because they are not trying to impress other horses."
    "Never approach a bull from the front, a horse from the rear, or a fool from any direction"



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun. 13, 2001
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    usa
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    Default

    Telling someone NOT to do x rarely works. There has to be a statement of what TO DO. How is the leg being used in the first place? The heel is dropped, the calf is therefore 'bulked' so that when it touches the horse, the horse can react. The aid is TIMED/pulsed. Touch/relax. IF the horse does not react, it is combined with a touch from a whip (touch first/vibrate the whip second/strong whack if still no one is at home). IF that progression is kept, it is rarely needed to be advanced after the first couple of 'follow throughs'. And remember for LY, first position the horse, then pulse with the leg as the horse's hindleg CAN move (it is not put it on and holdddd).
    I.D.E.A. yoda


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  3. #3
    Join Date
    May. 9, 2007
    Location
    Carthage, NC
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    Default

    No stirrups. Sorry, simple panacea. Curling your leg up is a symptom of the problem, not the problem itself. With what you describe, you're likely bracing and sitting crooked, twisting your upper body in the process. As you can imagine, this often flows through your seat, reins, and forearms. Tense, unfun situation.

    To readjust to straight and balanced, taking away stirrups will take away your "leverage" and lessens the ability to brace. It may feel more difficult at first as the proprioceptors in your brain adjust, but will become easier for application of clear aids and developing correct response time. In short, you'll sit better, feel more correct, and ride more effectively. Trust me.

    Exercises: Without strirrups and on a long rein, leg-yield at the walk. Then leg-yield sitting trot on a circle. Leg-yield at the canter. See what happens, feel relaxed and connected in your seat and legs, be fully aware of your body positioning and the horse's. Sounds more complex in writing, easy-peasy in real time. Good luck!


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  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun. 9, 2005
    Location
    Unionville, PA
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    Default

    Me me! I do this too. As Glenbaer suggests, I think bracing against the stirrups is part of the problem (for me anyway). Looking forward to more suggestions!
    Delaware Park Canter Volunteer
    http://www.canterusa.org/



  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar. 13, 2000
    Posts
    1,810

    Default

    Staying loose and 'breathing' through the hips is a first step to begin able to sit and use the leg separately from the body.

    For LY, remember that there is so much more to it than just putting on the leg a little back and hoping it happens. It won't, really. We did lots and lots of connection work before emphasizing any sideways movements. And when we did start that type of work, since the basics were already available to the horse, LY, SI, etc., just fell into place.



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul. 11, 2007
    Location
    MA
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    1,308

    Default

    I do this so bad. My instructor actually took only the curling stirrup away. It takes away the opportunity to brace on the stirrup and makes me stretch down and around his belly more. The added issue it creates (with me anyway) is that I loose my seat connection on that side when I curl up too. It helped me a lot to go without that one stirrup.



  7. #7
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    Jun. 9, 2005
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    Unionville, PA
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    Default

    I also notice I do this more in my dressage saddle than my jump saddle.
    Delaware Park Canter Volunteer
    http://www.canterusa.org/



  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan. 9, 2013
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    256

    Default

    Yep, guilty here too (especially in my dressage saddle, as kcmel noted). My new trainer really focused on this problem, which helped me address it. She made a point of having me relax my leg and push through my heel. I was only aloud to jump cross rails until I could keep my leg long and relaxed over fences (lol, there's motivations for ya). So, I guess for me the solution was consistent awareness of the problem and focusing pretty much only on it until it disappeared.



  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug. 27, 2010
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    31

    Default

    A curled leg comes from a tense thigh. Every time you curl your leg think about relaxing your thigh and your weight will drop down your leg and into your heel


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  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar. 24, 2010
    Location
    Tucson
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    Default

    I think there can be various causes, thus the various cures given.


    For me, my legs would curl and I would lose my stirrups, so clearly riding without stirrups wasn't the answer. Tension in the thighs could have been part of where it started - ultimately, I used my quads more than my hamstrings. I did a pilates class with a biomechanics instructor to pinpoint what the problem was and how I needed to fix it. It basically felt like trying to pull my butt cheeks toward the backs of my knees with my hamstrings in order to get legs to hang longer - balancing out the muscle usage.
    My horse is a dressage diva so I don't have to be.

    Quote Originally Posted by katarine
    If you have a fat gay horse that likes Parelli, you're really screwed



  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jul. 2, 2003
    Location
    Northern VA
    Posts
    2,986

    Default

    I find myself curling my leg/lifting my heel when I flat in my jump saddle... my horse is VERY narrow and I have long legs, so it's hard for me to wrap them around his barrel.
    -my life-
    Translation
    fri [fri:] fritt fria (adj): Free
    skritt [skrit:] skritten (noun): Walk



  12. #12
    Join Date
    Aug. 12, 2008
    Posts
    372

    Default

    I do this as well

    My last two lessons (dressage) we were working on it. She has me focusing on opening the back of my knee, which in turn will help relax my thigh.



  13. #13
    Join Date
    Apr. 30, 2002
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    Looking up
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    6,192

    Default

    Sink your weight into your heel and turn your toes out to get MORE leg where it is needed. When you leg slides back out of position from the "hotbox" your horse could care less.
    "Passion, though a bad regulator, is a powerful spring." -- Emerson
    www.eventhorse.wordpress.com



  14. #14
    Join Date
    Sep. 7, 1999
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    Tuscaloosa, Alabama
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    11,208

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by cyberbay View Post
    Staying loose and 'breathing' through the hips is a first step to begin able to sit and use the leg separately from the body.

    For LY, remember that there is so much more to it than just putting on the leg a little back and hoping it happens. It won't, really. We did lots and lots of connection work before emphasizing any sideways movements. And when we did start that type of work, since the basics were already available to the horse, LY, SI, etc., just fell into place.
    Love this. Yes, increased flexion of the hip will lead to increased flexion of the knee, which will lift the heel/lower leg (what you call "curling"). In an ideal world stirrupless work will strengthen the seat, but often it just exacerbates the underlying anatomical issues associated with increased hip flexion (notably an anterior pelvic tilt). Because I personally have this challenge as well, I will tell you that sitting on a stability ball and pretending to ride, while looking in a mirror, helped me a great deal. The feel I established there translated directly to the tack.

    Out of curiosity, what is the new horse's conformation like? Is she more narrow/wheelbarrow shaped? Slab sided? That can cause medial hip rotation and increase the gripping/hip flexion. Think "wide" across your sits bones, and open up more from the hip laterally. As you do this, also think about the bottom of your boots about to touch the arena footing.
    When blood is the beverage of choice, the sharpest fangs feed first.



  15. #15
    Join Date
    Dec. 30, 2010
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    152

    Default

    I do the same - I try to jam my knee into the block and brace it there with my toes in the iron rather than keeping my ankles soft and weight in my heels, which stretches my inner calf and keeps more contact in my base of support. Two point (and lots of it!) has been a huge help for me; changing diagonals "up" rather than sitting will help, too.



  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jan. 6, 2013
    Posts
    163

    Default

    Thanks for all the replies. The mare I am riding is an out of shape, 15 year old TB mare. She's quite underdeveloped in her muscling after a couple years of sitting out at pasture with her previous owner. I wouldn't call her narrow, but I also wouldn't say she is wide by any means.

    It's weird you mentioned toes out, because our barn recently had a clinic with Nick Novak, the Grand Prix rider, and he told me the same thing. It's hard though for me to point my toes outward, they just naturally fall quite straight.
    "One reason why horses are happy is because they are not trying to impress other horses."
    "Never approach a bull from the front, a horse from the rear, or a fool from any direction"



  17. #17
    Join Date
    Mar. 24, 2010
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    Tucson
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Kalila View Post
    It's weird you mentioned toes out, because our barn recently had a clinic with Nick Novak, the Grand Prix rider, and he told me the same thing. It's hard though for me to point my toes outward, they just naturally fall quite straight.
    I badlly sprained my back last June by landing on the left side of my sacrum off my horse. It took a few weeks before I could trust my left leg to hold me up when I tried to stand/walk, and even now it sometimes gives out on me. Pointing my toes out was one of the tips I was given in lessons, and at first I physically could not turn my left toes. If you don't think of it that way, remember that turning your toes comes from the hip - you'll be likely to hurt your knees if you try to do it from there! I have been practicing and practicing, and it takes about 5 seconds when standing to turn out my left foot from the hip - yet seemingly is now easier while riding. I very much have to concentrate on weighting the inside of my foot and turning my toes out from the hip to get it, though. It makes a big difference when I manage!
    My horse is a dressage diva so I don't have to be.

    Quote Originally Posted by katarine
    If you have a fat gay horse that likes Parelli, you're really screwed



  18. #18
    Join Date
    Sep. 7, 1999
    Location
    Tuscaloosa, Alabama
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    Default

    "Turn your toes out" is a common tip, and easy to use with someone riding a horse and attempting to perceive and implement instruction from the ground (you don't want to give a lecture on anatomy!), but there is more to think about if you really want to correct your issue. The knee and ankle both are hinge joints, but some side-to-side movement is allowed (the range depends on the individual). With this in mind, it's possible to turn out from the toe without fully rotating from the ball-and-socket hip joint, but doing so creates a "kink in the chain" between the ankle and the hip. And no matter how you slice it, rotation in the limb is made possibly ONLY by the hip. So if you think about generating your rotation from the hip - the source, or origin of the movement - and keeping your knee cap and ankle aligned with that degree of rotation, you'll have unobstructed use of your leg and MUCH LESS strain and potential damage on your joints (specifically the knee).

    In essence, we should say "turn out from your hip."
    When blood is the beverage of choice, the sharpest fangs feed first.



  19. #19
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    Sep. 7, 1999
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    Tuscaloosa, Alabama
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    Quote Originally Posted by netg View Post
    I badlly sprained my back last June by landing on the left side of my sacrum off my horse. It took a few weeks before I could trust my left leg to hold me up when I tried to stand/walk, and even now it sometimes gives out on me. Pointing my toes out was one of the tips I was given in lessons, and at first I physically could not turn my left toes. If you don't think of it that way, remember that turning your toes comes from the hip - you'll be likely to hurt your knees if you try to do it from there! I have been practicing and practicing, and it takes about 5 seconds when standing to turn out my left foot from the hip - yet seemingly is now easier while riding. I very much have to concentrate on weighting the inside of my foot and turning my toes out from the hip to get it, though. It makes a big difference when I manage!
    I love you.

    Try putting a small ball under your left foot. Stabilize yourself on the right by placing your hand on the wall (or a blanket bar in the barn!), and laterally rotate from the stabilizing right hip (you're going for a very slight version of first position, ballet). Laterally rotate on the left hip then, keeping your spine neutral and your gaze forward, roll the ball forward slightly, then return to start position WITHOUT losing that upright neutral position. This will help facilitate movement at the hip. It will be a short range of motion, but should assist in laterally rotating your left hip.
    When blood is the beverage of choice, the sharpest fangs feed first.



  20. #20
    Join Date
    Oct. 22, 2001
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    5,147

    Default

    Robby - (as one who struggles to keep my weight on the inside of my foot instead of curling outwards onto the outer edge), how do turn your toes out from the hip without rotating your whole leg away from the horse? Help with the mechanics please - in my eternal struggle to keep my leg _on_ and not just flailing wildly about. If it's done right, is it correct to feel a strain in the front/outside of the shin?



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