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Odd Leg/Foot Position Problem

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  • Odd Leg/Foot Position Problem

    I am definitely not the owner of the best human conformation for riding and jumping, but I've got to believe I can make this at least a little better. My problem doesn't seem to be a huge hindrance at this point in time, but it is certainly unattractive and my position would undoubtedly be stronger if this problem were fixed.

    For whatever reason, my toes want to point nearly straight out when I'm on a horse. It seems that this is because I'm primarily gripping with the back, not the side, of my calf, and I'm not sure how to fix that! It's most pronounced when jumping, especially while in the air, but it's noticeable on the flat as well. My instructor and I refer to them as my "flippers." So far, she has had me jump with the stirrups attached to the girth, which went a lot better than I thought it would. I didn't actually lose a stirrup once, but my toes still pointed out. She has also given me some exercises to do with a ball, (just squeezing it between my calves without letting my toes roll out) but I haven't seen a huge difference and I've been doing this for quite a while now.

    Also, and possibly related, I cannot get my foot to lie flat in my stirrup. I put more weight on the outside of my foot, and my boot on the inside side (near my big toes) does not touch the stirrup.

    My trainer has suggested the stirrup pads that are supposed to help with leg/foot position, but I was hoping you all might have some ideas on how to fix this!
    Blue-eyed Eventers

  • #2
    Join the club . I have always had very strong calves (from dancing and running), and I have a tendency to rotate and grip with them when I feel insecure in the saddle. Of course, this makes my leg shorten (instead of lengthen and wrap around the horse) and makes me MORE insecure but, hey, my sub-conscious doesn't know that. I can get better, but when I take time off, my old bad habits come back.

    For me, dropping my stirrups entirely for a few weeks helps me reseat my leg position. That and having a friend/trainer on the ground to remind me over and over. I also really concentrate on weighting my inside toe and placing my stirrup absolutely under the ball of my foot (I tend to ride with it too far forward, almost under my toes). I also draw my leg back up (I grab my ankle and bend it) and then place it in the correct position. Over and over and over. It takes a month of work (not just a month, but a month total of working on it) to break a habit, so just keep at it.

    But, yes, it is fixable (although I've never tried any sort of stirrup pads). For me at least, it is mostly a strength issue.


    • #3
      As an aside, I found that my leg position improved almost instantly when a trainer (that I didn't know that well) stuck some spurs on me. I was absolutely paranoid about poking the horse unnecessarily, and my toes-out issue pretty much disappeared (they were itty-bitty rounded spurs, but still--being hyper-aware of them really steadied my leg). My ankles hurt afterwards though!


      • #4
        My toes used to do this. not quite to the degree it sounds like yours do, but I started riding with a dressage instructor. Turns out I have shorter thighs that were harder to get around the horse, so I gripped to compensate with the calf. Try lengthening your stirrups, riding with a long leg to strengthen the thigh muscles. It also helps to make sure your inner knees are against the saddle - sometimes that takes some thigh manipulation if you have rounder thighs.

        Also, the spur REALLY helped me too. Just a teensy one, but I was riding an explosive horse who was also really tall - really didn't want to poke him!!!


        • Original Poster

          Thanks for the suggestions I'll keep working on it!
          Blue-eyed Eventers


          • #6
            Your whole leg is probably rotating out - so think about starting from your hip, that you want your knee going forward. That is a more advanced dressage leg but it will help you use the right parts of your leg from your seat down.

            You don't want to use the back of your thigh, the inside should lie flat down your saddle. Don't pinch with your knee, but think of using your inner thigh to keep your knee touching the saddle.


            • #7
              When you first sit down in the saddle, grab the inside/back of your thigh (from behind your thigh) and actually pull your inside thigh to the back, this will help your inside thigh lay flat and the rest of the leg will follow. Do this on both sides, whenever you feel yourself using your hamstring to grip. This is not a total fix but will help you on your way to new muscle memory.

              good riding!