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My legs WILL NOT go back! Help?

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  • My legs WILL NOT go back! Help?

    I have been struggling with a problem with my legs for a while now. I have always been taught that the correct leg position is a straight line from hips to heels. Unfortunatly, I cannot seem to make this happen. My leg is always in front of me, no matter what. I have had my trainer and my mother (we keep our horses at home) adjust my leg while at a halt so that I can see where my leg needs to be. However, when my leg is in the "correct" position, I feel like it is behind me and completely unnatural and uncomfortable. Could it be my saddle? It is a Crosby Equilibrium 17" which is actually a little too big for me. My pony is also built more downhill, if that makes a difference. Thanks!

    Picture of my terrible leg:

  • #2
    I would definitely check your saddle - both for positioning for you and fit for the horse. If he's already downhill, add on a saddle that doesn't sit right and that you have to fight against and you'll have one heck of a time getting anything in the right place.

    I would try a couple different saddles to see if you can feel a difference and have a fitter take a look.
    If the pony spits venom in your face or produces a loud roar, it is probably not a pony. Find another. -The Oatmeal


    • #3
      I thought it was going to be worse than it is.

      I dont really have any advice...I can just relate...kinda! I recently took my first lesson in 2 years, and apparently I have developed a lovely habit of leaning forward a bit when trotting. The way I have been fixing it, I basically have to feel like im leaning back...reallllly far back. So maybe you can just ride feeling like your leg is too far back? Good luck! I know how hard it is to change something you've gotten used to!
      Charlie Brown (1994 bay TB X gelding)
      White Star (2004 grey TB gelding)

      Mystical Moment, 1977-2010.


      • Original Poster

        Thanks I will definatly check saddle fit! This is actually one of the "better" photos. Usually it looks much worse!


        • #5
          well...yes, its going to feel unnatural and uncomfortable at first. That tells you that you're changing something. Like for me, I don't put my foot in my iron enough so my trainer has been yelling at me to shove my foot in. Does it feel weird? Oh yea. Does my foot consistently seek out the "comfortable" position? Oh yea. So you have to really *think* about it each time you ride and eventually, what is uncomfortable will become comfortable.

          Saddle can also make a big difference.

          Another thing to double check is make sure you aren't tight in your hips and hamstrings. If you're tight there, its going to be doubly hard to keep that leg back, heel down.


          • #6
            If the saddle is big, you might be sitting too far back. Your leg looks like it is pretty near where it should be, near the girth. Maybe an inch or so forward. Try posting closer to the pommel and not getting lost in the seat rather than worrying about your leg. It looks like you have a very long upper leg so you may be fighting your own conformation. You might be more comfortable (and sit better) in a longer flap saddle.

            BTW, I agree that I was expecting much worse from your original post. It's not like your feet are up on the dashboard!
            F O.B
            Resident racing historian ~~~ Re-riders Clique
            Founder of the Mighty Thoroughbred Clique


            • #7
              Try lengthening your stirrups a bit. Sometimes if your stirrups are too short it causes you to push your leg more forward then back. Good luck!


              • #8
                I found that when I switched from my Crosby PDN to my used County Stabilizer, my leg moved back and it felt more natural. I grew up riding in the 80s with more of a chair seat and my toes pointed horribly out so it has been a real challeng to untrain myself! One thing I do is to take a look down and if my toes are peaking out in front of my knees, I move em back! I was surprised though by the saddle. My old one was very flat with no knee rolls.


                • #9
                  If the stirrup bars are placed too far forward for your leg, it will put you in a chair seat.

                  If the saddle is too narrow it will tip you backward and your legs will shoot out in front of you.

                  It's very difficult to keep your position when you're fighting your tack.
                  Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
                  EquestrianHow2 - Operating instructions for your horse.


                  • #10
                    Ditto checking the saddle fit.
                    Also, does your leg do this on other horses? There have been some occasions where the conformation of the horse affects my leg position.
                    "In the beginning, the universe was created. This made a lot of people angry and has widely been considered as a bad move." -Douglas Adams


                    • #11
                      Platinum, if that's what your leg usually looks like, then I don't think you have a problem. I just did a clinic with Bernie Traurig and I've been spending a lot of time on his website, equestriancoach.com. Bernie naturally rides with a slightly forward leg and says it's perfect acceptable. Maybe check out some of his videos and photos?

                      He also has an exercise called 'Range of Motion' - it's meant for people whose legs are too far back - but you could probably adapt it to moving your leg slightly back if you like.
                      ~ Citizens for a Kinder, Gentler COTH...our mantra: Be nice. ~


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Bogie View Post
                        If the stirrup bars are placed too far forward for your leg, it will put you in a chair seat.

                        If the saddle is too narrow it will tip you backward and your legs will shoot out in front of you.

                        It's very difficult to keep your position when you're fighting your tack.

                        It can help to think about sitting over your leg, instead of trying to draw your leg back... but if your saddle doesn't fit you and/or your horse correctly, you can try all you want and just earn frustration.
                        Patience pays.


                        • #13
                          Can you ride in a different saddle once or twice and see if that helps? Borrow from a friend?

                          At one point I was riding 2 or 3 lesson horses fairly consistently, who all happened to share the same saddle. I was sitting in a chair seat BIG TIME and couldn't get my legs under me for anything. One day I rode a new lesson horse, with a different saddle, and lo and behold - perfect leg position. Sometimes the saddle makes more difference than we realize!


                          • #14
                            Try padding under the back of the saddle to lift the cantle. This won't solve any problems, but it may help you figure out if it's the saddle or not.
                            "Rock n' roll's not through, yeah, I'm sewing wings on this thing." --Destroyer


                            • #15
                              I struggle with this constantly as well.

                              I've found that I need to concentrate on gripping with my knees more and sitting on the front of my pubic area rather than my tailbone. I have a tendency to want to turn my toes out a bit, put my leg forward, and grip with my calves. Focusing on distributing the weight evenly from heel to hip has helped me a lot. I've also dropped my stirrups on one horse for the last 8 months and that's helped my leg position tremendously. It didn't help that my last big jumper needed me to ride her with my seat more than my leg, so I developed too much of a driving seat, and boy did that feed into my habit!

                              FWIW, it took me quite a while of shoving my leg back to have it feel normal. And really it took the no-stirrups work (while consciously thinking of where my legs were) to build the muscles around that position. Now it's relatively easy for me to stay in the right position on my two big jumpers, but throw me on my baby and I'm right back to my more defensive position (people have asked in other threads how riding babies can give you bad position, and all anyone has to do is check out my pictures of my position on my baby to see! )
                              Flying F Sport Horses
                              Horses in the NW


                              • #16
                                Try riding in other saddles. If the problem persists, focus on making your hips/lower back more flexible. Read some stuff about centered riding (I believe Sally Swift is the oft-cited author here) to get ideas for working on your hips.

                                I was amazed how much my legs improved when we worked on opening my leg from the hips, just like a ballet dancer achieves correct turnout from the hips. It also made me a more even rider left/right, as we discovered I have naturally more flexibility on one side than the other (probably thanks to tending to sleep with my left leg jacked up under my chin while I sleep on my stomach).


                                • #17
                                  I feel your pain, I have the same exact problem. A knew saddle helped A LOT. You can also put masking tape on the bottom of your stirrup bar so the leather hang back a little more.


                                  • Original Poster

                                    Thank you so much everyone. I am definatly going to check on saddle fit and see if I can ride in some different saddles. Also going to try lengthening the stirrups.


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by HorseLuvr View Post
                                      Try lengthening your stirrups a bit. Sometimes if your stirrups are too short it causes you to push your leg more forward then back. Good luck!

                                      And after lengthening your stirrups try: Getting your seat position by standing up in two point, sinking STRAIGHT down towards the ground while sliding your knee also towards the ground (instead of sitting down). If you do that right, you will not be able to raise your heel at all without also raising your knee. Your knee kept as far down towards the ground as possible is the key to a deep seat. Sitting as far forward towards the pommel as possible, (instead of riding the cantle and having to lean forward to stay over the horse's center of balance) will help you. Riders lose that tight seat and slide backwards when they push their heels down and post from their feet. Instead, get a deep seat as above, and think of posting only above your knee (place one hand at mid-thigh and post from there), and think of pulling your toes up and sinking into your heel instead of pushing your heels down, which does also push you back in the saddle.
                                      But sitting forward in the saddle is the key to being able to sit straight up and keep your legs back on your horse's sides.

                                      If you are really struggling to stop leaning forward, try to touch the pommel with the back of your butt each time you post. You will not be able to do that, but thinking about it will make your seat stay forward in the saddle where it belongs, and not back towards the cantle (assuming your stirrup leathers are long enough). Leaning back is not the answer, your forward seat position is the key.

                                      The only time I could ever blame a saddle for my poor leaning forward position was when I rode in a cutback pommel model, that had the seat center way farther back than it should have been.
                                      Comprehensive Equestrian Site Planning and Facility Design


                                      • #20
                                        Another thing you can try is almost so simple it's stupid. Stand straight up in your stirrups at the walk. It's impossible to have your leg out in front of you at all without falling back into the saddle! That can help you get an idea of where it should be, so you can feel what's right.