• Welcome to the Chronicle Forums.
    Please complete your profile. The forums and the rest of www.chronofhorse.com has single sign-in, so your log in information for one will automatically work for the other. Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here are the views of the individual and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of The Chronicle of the Horse.



Forum rules and no-advertising policy

As a participant on this forum, it is your responsibility to know and follow our rules. Please read this message in its entirety.

Board Rules

1. You’re responsible for what you say.
As outlined in Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, The Chronicle of the Horse and its affiliates, as well Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd., the developers of vBulletin, are not legally responsible for statements made in the forums.

This is a public forum viewed by a wide spectrum of people, so please be mindful of what you say and who might be reading it—details of personal disputes are likely better handled privately. While posters are legally responsible for their statements, the moderators may in their discretion remove or edit posts that violate these rules. Users have the ability to modify or delete their own messages after posting, but administrators generally will not delete posts, threads or accounts upon request.

Outright inflammatory, vulgar, harassing, malicious or otherwise inappropriate statements and criminal charges unsubstantiated by a reputable news source or legal documentation will not be tolerated and will be dealt with at the discretion of the moderators.

2. Conversations in horse-related forums should be horse-related.
The forums are a wonderful source of information and support for members of the horse community. While it’s understandably tempting to share information or search for input on other topics upon which members might have a similar level of knowledge, members must maintain the focus on horses.

3. Keep conversations productive, on topic and civil.
Discussion and disagreement are inevitable and encouraged; personal insults, diatribes and sniping comments are unproductive and unacceptable. Whether a subject is light-hearted or serious, keep posts focused on the current topic and of general interest to other participants of that thread. Utilize the private message feature or personal email where appropriate to address side topics or personal issues not related to the topic at large.

4. No advertising in the discussion forums.
Posts in the discussion forums directly or indirectly advertising horses, jobs, items or services for sale or wanted will be removed at the discretion of the moderators. Use of the private messaging feature or email addresses obtained through users’ profiles for unsolicited advertising is not permitted.

Company representatives may participate in discussions and answer questions about their products or services, or suggest their products on recent threads if they fulfill the criteria of a query. False "testimonials" provided by company affiliates posing as general consumers are not appropriate, and self-promotion of sales, ad campaigns, etc. through the discussion forums is not allowed.

Paid advertising is available on our classifieds site and through the purchase of banner ads. The tightly monitored Giveaways forum permits free listings of genuinely free horses and items available or wanted (on a limited basis). Items offered for trade are not allowed.

Advertising Policy Specifics
When in doubt of whether something you want to post constitutes advertising, please contact a moderator privately in advance for further clarification. Refer to the following points for general guidelines:

Horses – Only general discussion about the buying, leasing, selling and pricing of horses is permitted. If the post contains, or links to, the type of specific information typically found in a sales or wanted ad, and it’s related to a horse for sale, regardless of who’s selling it, it doesn’t belong in the discussion forums.

Stallions – Board members may ask for suggestions on breeding stallion recommendations. Stallion owners may reply to such queries by suggesting their own stallions, only if their horse fits the specific criteria of the original poster. Excessive promotion of a stallion by its owner or related parties is not permitted and will be addressed at the discretion of the moderators.

Services – Members may use the forums to ask for general recommendations of trainers, barns, shippers, farriers, etc., and other members may answer those requests by suggesting themselves or their company, if their services fulfill the specific criteria of the original post. Members may not solicit other members for business if it is not in response to a direct, genuine query.

Products – While members may ask for general opinions and suggestions on equipment, trailers, trucks, etc., they may not list the specific attributes for which they are in the market, as such posts serve as wanted ads.

Event Announcements – Members may post one notification of an upcoming event that may be of interest to fellow members, if the original poster does not benefit financially from the event. Such threads may not be “bumped” excessively. Premium members may post their own notices in the Event Announcements forum.

Charities/Rescues – Announcements for charitable or fundraising events can only be made for 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organizations. Special exceptions may be made, at the moderators’ discretion and direction, for board-related events or fundraising activities in extraordinary circumstances.

Occasional posts regarding horses available for adoption through IRS-registered horse rescue or placement programs are permitted in the appropriate forums, but these threads may be limited at the discretion of the moderators. Individuals may not advertise or make announcements for horses in need of rescue, placement or adoption unless the horse is available through a recognized rescue or placement agency or government-run entity or the thread fits the criteria for and is located in the Giveaways forum.

5. Do not post copyrighted photographs unless you have purchased that photo and have permission to do so.

6. Respect other members.
As members are often passionate about their beliefs and intentions can easily be misinterpreted in this type of environment, try to explore or resolve the inevitable disagreements that arise in the course of threads calmly and rationally.

If you see a post that you feel violates the rules of the board, please click the “alert” button (exclamation point inside of a triangle) in the bottom left corner of the post, which will alert ONLY the moderators to the post in question. They will then take whatever action, or no action, as deemed appropriate for the situation at their discretion. Do not air grievances regarding other posters or the moderators in the discussion forums.

Please be advised that adding another user to your “Ignore” list via your User Control Panel can be a useful tactic, which blocks posts and private messages by members whose commentary you’d rather avoid reading.

7. We have the right to reproduce statements made in the forums.
The Chronicle of the Horse may copy, quote, link to or otherwise reproduce posts, or portions of posts, in print or online for advertising or editorial purposes, if attributed to their original authors, and by posting in this forum, you hereby grant to The Chronicle of the Horse a perpetual, non-exclusive license under copyright and other rights, to do so.

8. We reserve the right to enforce and amend the rules.
The moderators may delete, edit, move or close any post or thread at any time, or refrain from doing any of the foregoing, in their discretion, and may suspend or revoke a user’s membership privileges at any time to maintain adherence to the rules and the general spirit of the forum. These rules may be amended at any time to address the current needs of the board.

Please see our full Terms of Service and Privacy Policy for more information.

Thanks for being a part of the COTH forums!

(Revised 1/26/16)
See more
See less

Beginner question - heels down, calf on, weight in heels

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Beginner question - heels down, calf on, weight in heels

    Hi all, I have a "beginner rider" question, one that I am sure is very common for newbie riders. What is "weight in your heels" supposed to feel like? I don't have alot of trouble keeping my calf on the horse and keeping my heels down at the posting trot, but when I rise into 2 point at the trot, I find it very difficult to wrap my legs around the horse, keep my calves on, and keep my heels down all at the same time. To me it feels almost like I need to be bowlegged, but trying to get that position in my lower leg makes my heel pop up. Should I be flexing my ankles outward to compensate for the calf being on the horse? And how can my heel stay down in such a very "unnatural" position? No one has really been able to explain to me how "weight in heels" should feel.

    Help please?? Thanks!

  • #2
    I always have my riding newbies put the balls of their feet on the edge of a step. The edge of the step acts as a "stirrup" and the longer you stand there, the more you can feel your weight drop into your heel/stretch out that calf.

    In regards to your leg position, the more you try to contort your body the more your body will contort.
    Clear as mud?

    When sitting in the saddle, picture yourself as a stick of butter on a warm summer day. Let your leg hang from your hip and melt down the side of the horse.

    I'd also venture a guess that while in the two-point, you aren't correctly balanced over the horse. Quite often, people lean too far up the horse's neck, their lower leg swings to the rear, and it becomes difficult to maintain balance and proper leg position. I've found it helpful to have people practice their two point while standing on the ground. In order to stay upright, your tush has to be back or else you'll fall over.

    All the best to you!


    • Original Poster

      That makes sense, about contorting and not getting the position I want. But when I try to relax and just let it happen, my instructor starts telling me to SQUEEZE with my calf to get a more forward trot, and then I start falling apart trying to relax and squeeze at the same time.


      • #4
        When you are in two point, grab some mane to start and help stabilize you without accidentally grabbing your horse's mouth. This may help lessen the panic "OMG I'm losing it!" and things start to fall apart. Or ask your instructor if you can use and old stirrup leather around the horse's neck for stabilization.

        As for squeezing while up in two point, think of yourself as wrapping your legs (however long or short they may be!) around your horse's barrel and squeezing a tube of toothpaste. Try not to think of it as just using your calf to squeeze, but your entire leg encompassing the horse and squeezing forward. Does that make any sense to you?


        • Original Poster

          Yes, that makes perfect sense to me. It's just a matter of my body doing what my mind is telling it to do! When I squeeze, whether with my calf or my entire leg, those darn heels start creeping up. It's like the thought of wrapping my leg around the horse's barrel makes my feet (and toes) want to wrap too!


          • #6
            Try rotating your legs from your hipsockets.

            A lot of people when told not to grip with the back of their calf, or told to put their toes more forward, try to turn their leg only at the ankle.

            Turn from the hip and the whole leg will follow.
            The Noodlehttp://tiny.cc/NGKmT&http://tiny.cc/gioSA
            Boy Wonderhttp://tiny.cc/G9290
            The Hana is nuts! NUTS!!http://tinyurl.com/SOCRAZY


            • Original Poster

              Ok, rotating from the hip sockets is something i can visualize - makes perfect sense. I must be trying to wrap my legs around by rotating my hips outward (and therefore my knees) so that i'm wrapping around the barrel in almost a "circular" fashion from hip to ankle, causing my feet to curl under too. I'm sooooo trying to avoid the dreaded "pinching with the knee" issue though. How do i rotate from the hips without clamping down with the knee?


              • #8
                Try to keep the feeling of a loose ankle. When the ankle locks, the heels stay down, but the weight can not drop down. Also, stiffening your ankle in a heels down position, can throw your lower leg forward. Once that happens, when you go to two point you will be fighting to keep from falling back into the saddle
                Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

                Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.


                • #9
                  Originally posted by happypants View Post
                  How do i rotate from the hips without clamping down with the knee?
                  You rotate the hips and imagine the leg just hanging from them.

                  You keep a feel of your weight going past your knee, down the back of your leg, into your heel. You feel your heel bob slightly up and down with the motion of the horse, like a buouy in the ocean, as the horse moves underneath you. You can also imagine thumbtacks in the knee roll.

                  The key part is imagining your weight falling down the back of your lower leg, pulling your heel below the stirrup bar. That is a way better anchor than a pinched knee can ever be.

                  Honestly, I hate it when instructors just say "Heels down." To me it is so much more important to put the rider's weight in the back of their lower leg. Suddenly they think about life with this image instead of just "heels down" and BOOM, stable lower leg.
                  The Noodlehttp://tiny.cc/NGKmT&http://tiny.cc/gioSA
                  Boy Wonderhttp://tiny.cc/G9290
                  The Hana is nuts! NUTS!!http://tinyurl.com/SOCRAZY


                  • Original Poster

                    That's a good point, this is so helpful! So i should be feeling a stretch down the back of leg/hamstring and down my calf muscles at the back of my calf. I felt this when i first started riding but then self-corrected (and maybe not appropriately so!) because i was concerned that meant i was putting too much pressure on the stirrup. So really it's like the pressure is dropping the back of my leg/heel down below the the back of the stirrup then (and definitely not on the ball of the foot)?


                    • #11
                      To get the security of the leg wrapping around your horse, you don't want your heels to go 'straight' down. That actually takes your leg off your horse. You want your toe pointed slightly out, but no more than a 45 degree angle from your horses side, which will put your calf against your horse.

                      Then, think about 'cocking your ankle' towards the side of your horse and putting your weight towards the big toe side of your foot. This will wrap your calf around the side of your horse. NOW, push your heel down.

                      This will lock you right in.

                      Now all you have to think about is don't pinch with your knee, pull your leg back from your hip, keep everything loose, etc., etc., etc. LOL.
                      The truth is always in the middle.


                      • #12
                        Excellent advice posted here about pulling your leg back from the hip. The main thing is to keep the knee from pinching. That will put you right over the head.

                        Another thing that may help in two-point; think about pushing 'down' on the top of your knee. That will pull your leg back and straight. It will keep you from pinching your knee.

                        Just keep a leg on each side, and your mind in the middle!
                        The truth is always in the middle.


                        • Original Poster

                          Thank you all, you've given me some really great advice! Next time I ride, my brain will be in overdrive trying to accomplish all of this!


                          • #14
                            Great thread!! I love all the advice. I wish I could print it all out and bring it with me when I ride to refer back to
                            Always wanted to know how the jet set live, now I own one


                            • #15
                              For some people the image of lifting the toe makes more sense than heals down. Also you don't want the side of your calf on the horse... you want the inside back quarter of your calf on the horse. And it sounds like when your trainer tells you to squeeze with your leg, you are trying to press your heels against your horse and lifting your lower leg. That actually takes your leg off your horse. Think about squeezing the part of your leg below your calf muscle and above your ankle bone against your horse.


                              • #16
                                try this: on the horse, at the halt - can you stand up ? I mean really stand, so your legs are almost straight. this will give you the feed back of whether your shoulder, hips, knee and lower leg are aligned. use a mirror if you have one. in this position, you should be able to get your heel down and keep your lower leg on the horse. it might also help you to have a lunge lesson so that you dont have to be the one to provide the "go". and to help you learn to get into 2 point and stay there w/o your balance affecting the horse thru your hands.

                                I found Sally Swift's "Centered Riding" and George Morris's book to be very helpful on position.


                                • #17
                                  Just another thought - a saddle that doesn't fit your or the horse will make it really hard to ride correctly, and you might notice it in 2-point first because you can't find a balance point at all. If you think you're doing what you should be doing but still really struggling, ask someone to evaluate the saddle you are riding in for fit of you or the horse.

                                  Some of the lesson horses and saddles my kids rode in were horrible - one swayback pony needed a big lollypop pad or they had to climb out of the dip in her back. 2-point nearly impossible. Another high withered TB that had a sensitive back and would use a special wither-relief pad, which had the effect of sitting the saddle quite up hill.

                                  One other "fit" issue is that sometimes you need to change your stirrup length depending on the horse you ride. If a wider horse, you might want to lengthen your stirrups a hole. My paint is wide in the barrel and too-short stirrups on her makes me feel very unstable.


                                  • #18
                                    I think you have made a very good point, I worked really hard to maintain position and could not, just could not hold a two point, very agravating as at one time I rode in two point in a western saddle for miles at a time.

                                    Then I changed saddles and suddenly and I mean from one day to the next two point was easy and riding was fun once again!


                                    • #19
                                      i second the recommendation of Sally Swift's Centered Riding book, cover to cover! I've started reading the second book and it's really helpful too. I try to read through them slowly and taking as much time for those feelings/mental visualizations to evolve, sink in. They're truly fantastic- more about the general feeling than the specific details, if that makes sense.
                                      I'll think about them before I ride, too- taking a few moments to go through a few of them- reminders (growing like a tree, stacking building blocks, soft eyes, centering, etc) to remind myself and get in the mindset.


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by meupatdoes View Post
                                        Try rotating your legs from your hipsockets.

                                        Turn from the hip and the whole leg will follow.
                                        Originally posted by fourmares View Post
                                        Also you don't want the side of your calf on the horse... you want the inside back quarter of your calf on the horse. ... Think about squeezing the part of your leg below your calf muscle and above your ankle bone against your horse.
                                        I can't wait for my next lesson to try these out, because I've been a little confused about what to squeeze with, and I'm pretty sure this is the first time I've heard anything about 'rotating from your hip sockets.' It all makes perfect sense. Especially since I've recently started gripping with my knees and didn't know how to fix it.

                                        I hope the OP has learned as much as I have from this thread.
                                        The dude abides ...