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THANKS! How do I get my heels out of my horse's sides?

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  • #41
    The only thing that has ever worked for me is yoga. You'd be amazed at what 10 minutes a day x five days a week will do for you.
    PA Hi-Ly Visible [PA Hi-Noon (by Magnum Psyche) x Takara Padrona (by *Padron)]

    Proud member of the Snort and Blow Clique


    • Original Poster

      Thanks for the help!

      THANK YOU to everyone for weighing in! What a supportive place this is.

      In general…I think that we have a few problems. Most importantly, despite all of my best efforts, I think this is the wrong saddle. If you saw my saddle post from last weekend, without going into too many details on this thread, what started out as a concern about the leather has turned into concerns about the saddle in general. Like, is it a problem if the stirrup leathers come off of the bar every time I ride so that I have to keep the “lock” up? Sigh. Regardless, today we did better, but focused not so much on the heels etc., but on using my calves for rhythm. Horse was happy, and was so, so cool today. Moves like Jagger. I'm getting used to these bigger feelings.

      DownYonder: thanks! I tried this exercise and others, and it worked. We focused today on just a few things, but we were able to move my legs (and therefore toes etc.) within my hip joints, which alerted us to some problems with the saddle. The week-old saddle. I was able to get my calves on him and my heels down and more away. I do have someone who can nag me incessantly – I always ride with my trainer, so I’m lucky that trainer can point it out. And yes, I think my horse was very, very thankful!!

      CFFarm, thanks! I love the energy from the toes analogy…perfect. I didn’t quite get to this today but will try it! I have tried it on the ground, however! Longe lessons aren’t an option right now for us but may be some time in the future and I know would be helpful. Thanks!

      JS: thanks! I didn’t try the paddock boots today, but it’s an excellent idea. I think that with my paddock boots, I’ve had a deeper heel as I have very hyperflexible joints. This boot, although it is a field boot, is still more stiff. Good idea. The rest of your post is interesting as you referenced the thigh block…looks like we might be moving toward something different. Thanks also for your suggestion about the SRS – I love watching riding and horse videos and will check them out.

      Wildlifer: thanks! I have the same problem if my legs hang down (had to raise heels to reach with spur). I’m forever working on the core…

      Willesdon: thanks! I have never done tai chi, but do yoga, Pilates, and barre…but a bit sporadically. I’m back to it full time as of tomorrow…wish me luck. I was much more relaxed for the last few rides I’ve had as I’ve learned that his big gaits mean just that – big gaits, not bad or dangerous behavior! I hope to report back with good relaxation news

      Ecstatic: thanks! That’s exactly what I hear “do you know you’re doing this every stride?” EEEK. We also did the stand then sit then stand, but haven’t done it in months…might revisit that! I do the bicycle legs too both at a walk and a trot (well, his old trot, not the “new trot!), and haven’t done that exercise in a while either. Thanks for the reminders! And we rank beginners will stick together. How are you coming along?

      Sannois: thanks! Maybe you should undergo hypnosis and figure out what it was that the trainer did to break you of it!! I’m glad you are cured, and I hope to share that I am cured soon as well! Thanks for your kind words about my horse, as well. He’s very sweet .

      Merrygoround, thanks! I did this today (weight dropping into heels with springy ankle thoughts), and it worked. But sometimes we also do the two point you suggested…and that works well. And yes, my thighs were not happy!!! Thanks!

      Rabicon, thanks! Barrel racing? I don’t have that excuse! Today I was better at the canter and was able to gently provide rhythm with my calf versus shove my spur into his side. I was better. Not perfect, but better, and I could feel it. In your later post, I need to do this. I need to stretch before hand, but I don’t. Thanks!

      Caper, thanks! We have done this (stirrups away and leg falling down). My balance is actually pretty good –growing up we had a horse for about 4 years but no saddle for the first two years, so we rode bareback. Now my horse’s gaits have changed (become more powerful) pretty quickly, so I’m relearning this good balance I believed I had! I’m in total agreement about the nagging and am so desperate to stop it .

      WasthatC, thanks! I appreciate your commending my bravery and progress. The only way I can improve is to be honest with myself…but being honest with an online community is a bit more difficult! I knew that I wanted help, so I put it out there. And I hope to be able to get more feedback. In a few years I won’t have the “I’m new” excuse, so I’m getting it all in now. I see what you mean about the bend and my shoulders, etc. I’m not the point yet of being able to recognize it in myself and correct it, but I’m sure trainer will be on it quickly! I don’t understand about the behind and underneath me – please explain!! And about the “getting away with,” I was referencing that I didn’t want to just take the spurs off and call myself fixed…I think that in my mind, I was so horrified by the pictures that it really gives me an impetus to fix it NOW versus placating my body. If I still have them in him, the spurs will come off, I’m sure .

      RedHorses, thanks so much for clarifying. I get it, and tried that today. It is a good stretch…and alerted me to some problems that I think are created by the saddle. Ruh roh.) I didn’t do the pointing toes today, but will add that to my agenda for tomorrow. Thanks so much!

      NOMIOMI1, thanks! In downward transitions, I tend to pull my knees a bit and collapse. This used to be my M.O. for anything. I would go fetal on horse. I’m so much better! But I do still collapse forward sometimes (ok, more than sometimes) in downward transitions. We are working on that . Exactly how you said – when I put leg on, I’m better. I think I’m focused more. Thanks!

      Belleaphant, thanks! Trainer has had me do exactly this…and when I do, my muscle – perhaps the gluteus medius – cramps. Hurts like a – well – it just really hurts!! We actually pulled my leg away and set it back down – works similarly but no cramp, luckily, and it did work…but we are finding that there may be a saddle issue. Sigh. Thanks! Oh, and I tried to click on Belle’s name for a photo but maybe there is no link. My boy is a Perch TB as well…but is 16, not 17.2!! Wow!

      Equibrit, thanks! How on earth do I sit on the board? Ouch!! Is this with a saddle pad? Interesting you brought up saddle fit…as we are starting to realize that is a problem, and saddle is brand new. Sigh.

      Blkarab, thanks! Glad to see there are a few of us out there…your exercise is similar to another just above…and now we are realizing that saddle is an issue as well…uh oh…but when I am able to keep my calves on and heels off (they are too low anyway to be on him if I am riding properly); he is wonderful. When I’m messing with him, no bueno. Thanks! I hope your hips stay where they need to!! Also, I have not been loyal to my Pilates, yoga, and ballet barre for a bit of time now and am going to fix that tomorrow. Thanks for the reminder.

      Nhrw, thanks! My muscles get crampy because I haven’t used them properly. I will look up these – it’s been YEARS since my anatomy class, and I’m embarrassed to say that I can’t isolate them without looking them up!! Thanks!

      Snbess, thanks! Great summary, and such a kind rider to your boy…a testament to you! I’m all about being kind to horse, which is why I’m so upset about what I’ve been doing…luckily, that is a great impetus for me to fix it asap or chop off my legs. ☺ Thanks!

      2ndyrgal: thanks for playing! When I first read your post I wanted to shut my laptop screen or throw rotten tomatoes at it, as saddle is brand new. But, it looks like we have a problem with the saddle and are going to be remedying that. YIKES. Thank you for your honesty and your comments about my sweet horse. And you can HAVE my long legs! Sometimes they are a real pain!

      Robin L, thanks! Fat? Me? On my thighs? NEVER!! Ha – I wish!! I tried that a bit today but the fat wasn’t cooperating. I think my breeches were too tight. In all seriousness, I know what you mean and seem to have most of my fat in the saddlebag area (so handy!), so it is a little difficult to pull it away. But a few more boxes of Godiva and I’m so there. Thanks – and I will try tomorrow in less restrictive pants!

      Netg, you are so kind, thanks! I do have the fat, but I’m not sure it’s in the right place to grab and yank. Who am I kidding, of course it is..but it’s more at my butt/leg connection versus my thigh. A few years ago I wouldn’t have understood how to do this. But now I certainly do! Thanks! (as usual)!

      Californianinkansas, thanks! I don’t know if you’ve read the responses above to other individuals, but I’m back on it tomorrow. Maybe even tonight. Thanks!
      LarkspurCO: no horse's training is complete until it can calmly yet expressively perform GP in stadium filled w/chainsaw juggling zombies riding unicycles while flying monkeys w/bottle rockets...


      • #43

        I've been on this bb for what seems like a decade (might be). I have never seen an OP a: read every post, or b: really take notes and thank everyone. Cheers to you girl, make sure you send us the updated, got new saddle, fixed everything, I can RIDE now, pictures.

        But you know, your legs STILL might be a little long for that adorable, fancy boy of yours. He might need someone oh, older, shorter, legs like a gnome, you could send him to me if he bores you.


        • Original Poster

          Originally posted by 2ndyrgal View Post
          I've been on this bb for what seems like a decade (might be). I have never seen an OP a: read every post, or b: really take notes and thank everyone. Cheers to you girl, make sure you send us the updated, got new saddle, fixed everything, I can RIDE now, pictures.

          But you know, your legs STILL might be a little long for that adorable, fancy boy of yours. He might need someone oh, older, shorter, legs like a gnome, you could send him to me if he bores you.
          You are very kind. I am very appreciative of the help. VERY. I have a wonderful trainer and am very loyal, and I also like to hear the BTDT opinions of others. And although trainer NEVER shows it, I'm sure trainer grows tired of my constant over analysis.

          Plus, this won't be the last, by far, pic or video I post in order to improve. And who knows, maybe one day I'll post one and say, "yeah, critique THIS, I dare you!" Ha! Maybe in 20 years. Or 30.

          LOL!! I'll let you know if I ever bore of the sweet boy...although I'm sure you can see from my ridiculous posts that I've found the absolute love of my life. (who needs a husband, anyway!)

          I will be sure to post a picture when we (I) get my crap together...it will look something like this:

          LarkspurCO: no horse's training is complete until it can calmly yet expressively perform GP in stadium filled w/chainsaw juggling zombies riding unicycles while flying monkeys w/bottle rockets...


          • #45
            Glad I could help in some small way!

            With your attitude and attention to detail you'll do fine!


            • #46
              RHRT - you seriously have the best attitude.

              To explain my comment about not enough bend coming from behind & under you...when I have struggled w a horse hanging its ribs on my inside leg and then sort of falling in against that leg I usually can't fix it with more pressure from my inside leg alone. I need more impulsion from the haunches so I can direct the energy around my inside leg. My legs are half the length of yours so you might have better luck. .

              If you think about being on a circle, and keeping all four of the horses legs on that circle then you're following a constant arc. The degree of that arc starts with the back legs and should be consistently defined throughout the horse's spine - so if you don't have the bend the problem typically starts in the haunches and low back of the horse not describing the correct degree of the arc. Thus my comment that the problem is behind and beneath you. I still think the issue in that first picture was the weight you were feeling against your inside leg.

              If you look at that picture in your original post do you have a muscle memory from that section of your test?


              • #47
                Originally posted by Blkarab View Post
                I just found your thread. I have this same problem too, and my new instructor gave me this wonderful exercise to help:

                She told me to take my feet out of the stirrups,
                Rotate the entire leg inward (so the toes are pointed in), but think of it coming from where your hip socket and your thigh meet. That is where the rotation needs to occur.

                Now, every time you ride...think of pointing your toes in towards the horse's belly.

                Now, when my toes point outwards, my horse will get sticky, so I know immediately, that I need to rotate my toes inward.

                The important key, is that the rotation come from the hip, not just the toe.

                She also raised my stirrups 2 notches...which helps a bunch as well. It's not an easy fix...and will take a lot of time to develop.
                This is the one thing that really, really helped me the most (along with stretching the hips which were very tight). A lot of riders think that they need to point their toes forward which makes them concentrate on the ankle by trying to turn it inward at an odd and uncomfortable angle. The secret is that if the hips are open the leg will hang straight in a natural way so the foot should follow putting the inside of calf against the horse rather than the back of the calf with toes pointing out. If the toes are pointing out, the heel is almost always up at some point. Practice, practice, practice this visual/physical feel the moment you get on. Like everyone else on here, I think your horse is gorgeous!


                • Original Poster

                  Thanks, everyone!!

                  RedHorses, thanks

                  WasthatC, thanks! I absolutely have a memory of that moment...aside from feeling like I was in the Olympics, I do know that he was falling in. Guess what we worked on today in our lesson? Yup. He absolutely hangs on my left leg. Today we had my calf on him differently instead of my constant spur, with good success once I got better at it. We have discovered that my right leg is far better than my left leg. It's like I was awakened today to the far that I even HAVE a left leg. Really! My right leg is more controlled, and I can use my calf with rhythm. he then stops leaning on me. But left leg seems to be less cooperative, and as his canter gets different, I think I'm changing my riding as well. I'm not so good with the impulsion yet...but we will get there.

                  Enterata - we did that today Some of it is artificial, from the saddle...which we are hopefully going to remedy And thanks for your sweet comment about my boy.

                  Today my left inner thigh was sore when I was done riding...pretty telling, I think. It wasn't my muscle working too hard, but the sore after stretching kind of. Or maybe it was my muscle. Regardless, thanks for the explanation; it was VERY timely!
                  LarkspurCO: no horse's training is complete until it can calmly yet expressively perform GP in stadium filled w/chainsaw juggling zombies riding unicycles while flying monkeys w/bottle rockets...


                  • #49
                    May I say and not make you blush too much, that you are a very gracious person, How incredibly nice that acknowledge and thank everyone.
                    How is it going? I know the saddle problem as well It took me almost a year to find the right saddle, but what was so funny, was when I finally found the right one, My trainer said the minute I sat in it, THAT IT! Finally your leg is where it belongs. And it just felt right. A wrong fit can make you miserable and all you do is fight the saddle trying to get your leg right. Sigh~
                    I and many others can empathize.


                    • #50
                      One thing that I noticed when I started riding in a dressage saddle was that I couldn't get comfortable in the twist, and I couldn't really evaluate whether the saddle fit well because well, coming from hunter-land, the whole shebang was uncomfortable including longer stirrups, different core, and the different leg position. Instead of driving myself crazy about the saddle at first, I went with "good enough" and bought myself a nice sheepskin gel cover for the seat so that I wasn't as afraid to open my glutes and let myself really sit in the saddle. It was sooo much more comfortable. It looks like you're really squeezing your glutes together, which will naturally rotate your whole leg outward, and as others have pointed out, it looks like the seat isn't a good fit for you. A really fluffy cover for a ride or two may help you figure out whether you're trying to avoid sitting into an uncomfortable saddle, or whether it's a bigger issue. When I finally found something that worked, my position really did change for the better without much effort on my own. I found that I could understand and follow instructions for body positioning during lessons. May not work, but relatively inexpensive as a trial run.
                      Somewhere in the world, Jason Miraz is Goodling himself and wondering why "the chronicle of the horse" is a top hit. CaitlinAndTheBay


                      • Original Poster

                        Sannois, you are very kind! I treasure the kind words! I have a teenager...I don't often hear the kind words. So thank you very much. I figure that if I am going to post to ask help, I'd better consider the advice and try to synthesize what might work for me! I can't offer too much advice for others because I am clueless about most "things that are dressage," but I can empathize. Plus, people often want to know how to bring more into this sport...and I think this board is a good way of showing that it isn't an elite group of snotty people who aren't welcoming, but rather a group of people who welcome newbies to the sport. But the newbies need to be able to listen and learn. OMG do i hope that I have the "this is it!" experience with a saddle...or I may resort to riding bareback. Ouch.

                        Candle, EXCELLENT advice - I actually rode for a few days in my bike shorts (very heavily padded) because I was afraid of opening my hips...because I had done that without the padding...with very bad results to my "lady bits" as I have heard them called here! I haven't even discussed that on this forum in my saddle thread, but holy moly...I need a saddle that fits. Thanks!
                        LarkspurCO: no horse's training is complete until it can calmly yet expressively perform GP in stadium filled w/chainsaw juggling zombies riding unicycles while flying monkeys w/bottle rockets...


                        • Original Poster

                          oops double post
                          LarkspurCO: no horse's training is complete until it can calmly yet expressively perform GP in stadium filled w/chainsaw juggling zombies riding unicycles while flying monkeys w/bottle rockets...