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How to keep heels down..

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  • How to keep heels down..

    I'm looking tricks/games/exercises to teach my 6yo to keep her heels down. She's discovered cantering and jumping (she has jumped 6 jumps in the last 3 weeks and LOVES it). She just wants to go fast and has decided "heels down" is so last year. Last week I took my camera and showed her pictures of her bad form. And she said "ohhhhh" and now just ignores me.

    Her feet look like they are pressing on an accelerator. At the walk, her heels are down. At the trot her feet are flat and at the canter its heels up and toes down!

    I'd like ideas to keep things fun and not be nagging her.
    If I put as much effort into my relationship as I do charging my phone, I'd probably be much better off.

  • #2
    Take away her stirrups? lol I'm only half kidding. It might just help and she might actually find it fun!


    • #3
      You could try having her take lessons from someone else. Sometimes Momness gets in the way of riding instructerness.

      A teacher is to be obeyed, but a mom? A mom will still love you even if you don't always listen.
      For the horse color genetics junky


      • #4
        DO NOT take away stirrups, that will only teach her to clutch, heels down is a function of HAVING stirrups. LOTS of two point and "standing" in the stirrups will teach her heels down. And if you are a parent. I suggest you get and instructor to work with her, kids don't listen to parents like they listen to their trainers! My kids parents are ALWAYS saying "You tell her, she will listen to you"!


        • #5
          Tell her to pick her toes up.
          "Life is too short to be a slave to the whims of others." -- RugBug, COTH


          • #6
            Two point! Downward transitions will make her heels down if she doesn't want to be pulled out of the saddle. Also, try the "no jumping/canter today untill your heels are down!" Reward any actual effort to improve her riding with 'fun' things. If she tries her best at the things you ask, mounted games, practice without reins at the walk, trail rides, and jumping can be the reward.

            Rather than nagging, set goals. If she can keep her heels down 1,2, or 3 times at the trot, she can canter. This gives her something to work towards so hopefully she will try without nagging


            • #7
              ALL done in Two Point:
              walk/trot/canter/trot/canter/trot/walk Transitions... rinse repeat... set cones and make transitions happen at specific points on a circle.. not when she likes. She will learn quickly that she has to have her heels down to accomplish this activity and stay balanced on her pony.

              Also, I would not allow her to jump AT ALL until she has her heels down all the time.

              If she won't listen to you... get her to a instructor. Usually parents teaching kids doesn't work too well.
              2016 RRP Makeover Competitor www.EnviousBid.com


              • #8
                I used to play games with my friends and maybe it will work for you.??

                We would stand on stairs and put the balls of our feet on the stair edge and see who could touch the below stair with their heel. Ha ha - it stretches those tendons needed for "heels down" in the saddle.

                We had competitions on who could put their heel down the farthest. I know it's goofy but we were kids and it was fun........

                and those of us that could do it well were rewarded in the equitation classes at the shows.......
                Live in the sunshine.
                Swim in the sea.
                Drink the wild air.


                • #9
                  Would definitely not do this jumping, but:

                  My trainer would have us put our heels on the stirrup (not all the way through, but resting on it). If you didn't keep your heel down, the stirrup would fall off. We only ever did this at the walk and trot, but it really showed you when your heels came up.


                  • #10
                    One thing I find works is to have the rider PUSH their heel down into your hand to get the feeling of the pressure. A lot of riders think heels down as a static pose/position and giving them the kinesthetic sensation of the push into their heel really seems to help.


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Either View Post
                      I'm looking tricks/games/exercises to teach my 6yo to keep her heels down. She's discovered cantering and jumping (she has jumped 6 jumps in the last 3 weeks and LOVES it). She just wants to go fast and has decided "heels down" is so last year. Last week I took my camera and showed her pictures of her bad form. And she said "ohhhhh" and now just ignores me.

                      Her feet look like they are pressing on an accelerator. At the walk, her heels are down. At the trot her feet are flat and at the canter its heels up and toes down!

                      I'd like ideas to keep things fun and not be nagging her.
                      1st of
                      read page one here and alter her stirrups to the correct lenght
                      then go down to bottom to do simple exercises with her


                      i teach all my kids with and without stirrups all the time obviously
                      on the lunge line and with a helper/ leader when and if nesscary

                      try getting her to round the world, scissors , half dismount and mount again
                      and simple simon games
                      like imple simon says touch your left toe with right hand
                      simple simon says - show me you left hand held high ( once they get to grips with right and left then say instead simple says tell me which is the inside hand - do afew more simple commands of hands out striaght or out to side then ask for out side hand )
                      simple simon says starburst - thats hands out legs out obviously without stirrups for this one and a leader is required thus person is sitting on there arse and balancing so wlaking around only

                      so simple simon games - left hand on hat right hand on hat, left arm out and left leg etc
                      use your imagination

                      you need to go back abit and get her balanced on the horse properly


                      • #12
                        Tell her to keep her toes up!

                        I'm only half-kidding.. I was taught 'toes up' rather than just 'heels down' because thinking toes up prevents locking the ankle and jamming the foot down into the stirrup that 'heels down' doesn't. It's just a mental thing. The whole 'heels down' ideal makes the rider drop too muc into the stirrup and grip with the back of their calf. The mental image of'Toes up' allows for a much softer lower leg.

                        Hopefully that makes sense!


                        • #13
                          I dont recall which triainer finally got it thorugh my thick head how to get my heels down with out adding pain to the job. Prior to that I had some intresting 'tricks' that allowed my heels to appera to be down...

                          Have her relax and drop her heels. Then have her 'feel' as though the weight from each side is flowing through each heel. But the key thing is to relax. Pushing heels down can tense the entire lower leg muscles which in turn can work against the idea to get the heels down.
                          Friend of bar .ka


                          • #14
                            Two point, two point and more two point. I also agree that sometimes "toes up" is a better "picture" to keep in mind. I also wouldn't let her jump if her toes are pointed down.


                            • #15
                              I would put her on the lunge line, no reins.....lots of 2 pt with varying what she does with her hands/arms....( hands on head, hands out to the side, hands on hips )......Tell her to drop her weight in her heels, not force them down....Practice until she can do that without losing her balance and can hold it for extended periods ( make a game of it by having her count out how long she can stay steady without leaning on her hands or having to sit...at that age beating your last best time is a game all in itself )....Add a cavelletti to mix it up when she is improving to keep her interest.....It may take a bit of experimenting but she will soon figure out that the only way to keep her balance for any length of time when the horse is moving is to drop her weight in her heels with her leg underneath her....

                              Remember she is young and you don't want to expect too much of her muscle strength....Keep things light and fun....

                              Good luck.....
                              Crayola Posse: Mulberry