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Toes forward!

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  • Toes forward!

    I was looking at a video of myself riding and my toes just stick way out. I have a natural turnout to my leg, a ballet dancer's dream, so is there any way to correct this without breaking my ankles?

  • #2
    I do the same thing because I learned how to ride that way in the ancient 80's! And i also walk like a duck I've been told that you can take a piece of twine (something breakable) and tie your irons to your girth. The more videos I watch of myself the more conscious I become though, and have started to turn my toes deliberately inward.


    • #3
      I had 16 years of ballet before riding a horse. So I am entitled to my turned out toes, some things just don't mix.


      • #4
        I use twine kn the girth for any of my students that do this.


        • #5
          Your toes should not point forward. They should turn out 30 - 45 degrees otherwise you pretty much have to pinch with your knee and it is almost impossible to have a tight lower leg.


          • #6
            Funny post! I have just started back in the hunter ring again and way back when, 60's and 70's you were ALWAYS told to keep your toes pointing forward in line with the horse. And it was drilled, drilled, drilled that way.

            Now I am being told that my lower legs must "touch" the horse at all times and that my toes must point outward as fourmares has suggested. I find this impossible to do......and it seems so wrong! I have always been congratulated on my long legs and elegant leg position (with toes pointing straight forward) and now....ugh! I think I may stay with dressage


            • #7
              Determination is the best solution, but you can also try wedge stirrup pads with the lifted side on the outside branch of the stirrup. I rode in Germany for a year and they gave me those to correct my American (pointing out) toes. Worked.


              • #8
                The issue probably starts in your hip. Tying your stirrups can help, but mostly you need to be very aware of not allowing your thigh to roll "open" from your hip.
                If we have to nail on talent, it's not talent.
                Founder, Higher Standards Leather Care Addicts Anonymous


                • #9
                  Originally posted by fourmares View Post
                  Your toes should not point forward. They should turn out 30 - 45 degrees otherwise you pretty much have to pinch with your knee and it is almost impossible to have a tight lower leg.
                  When I was a kid I had a trainer that was adament that my toes MUST.POINT.FORWARD. at all times.

                  Then I got a better trainer and we realized that with my toes nearly touching the horse really inverted my ankle making it hard to keep my heels down...

                  Now, I have the hardest time getting my left ankle to rotate out and get my heel down and my right ankle turns out just right... It puts so much stress on my left ankle, but for some reason, my muscle memory doesn't work the same on both sides Weird...


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by pattnic View Post
                    The issue probably starts in your hip. Tying your stirrups can help, but mostly you need to be very aware of not allowing your thigh to roll "open" from your hip.
                    This. If you focus too much on trying to force your toes forward without addressing the upper leg, you will lock your ankle and prevent your heels from coming down.


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by pattnic View Post
                      The issue probably starts in your hip. Tying your stirrups can help, but mostly you need to be very aware of not allowing your thigh to roll "open" from your hip.
                      Yes! And, believe it or not, the ability to engage/disengage your hip starts with your core. If your core is engaged (using your core muscles to pull your rib cage in and up) you'll find it much easier to rotate your leg in your hip socket. Just try it standing and you'll get the feeling.


                      • #12
                        I focus on what part of my calf is touching the horse and what my knees and ankles are doing. So long as those three are correct (side of calf on horse, not pinching with knees, ankles flexed down and in), the toes will go where they will go.


                        • #13
                          It IS pretty difficult if you have natural turnout - or come from a dance background (all that hard work in ballet...just to be un-done with riding! Oh well...).

                          My trainer has been working with me on this for the last month or two. For me it really starts from my core and hip, because when my toes turn out it means I am rolling my whole leg and then only have the back part of my calf on the horse's side.

                          Of course you can't have your toes inverted, but I think if you have your thigh, inner calf, and ankle on the horse's side your toes are more or less forward.

                          Tying your irons to the girth helps a little, but I'm finding out that it is just like everything else - you have to do it over, and over, and over (and over!) again until it becomes habit.
                          "Look, I'm trying not to test the durability of the arena with my face!" (Because only GM can do that.)


                          • #14
                            My first "real" trainer always taught me to ride with my toes out. When I switched to my present trainer, she had to drill "toes in" to me for months. Every single ride, every single step, I had to think about toes in, knees against the saddle, and using my whole leg, not just my lower calf and heel. It took forever, but all of a sudden one day I didn't have to think about it as much, it was just natural for me. If I feel my toes are turning out now, the problem always stems from my hip, or rotating my entire leg.


                            • #15
                              I can barely keep my toes at 45 degrees (which is what I was taught was right.) Because it's natural and from the hip, all the twine trick does is cause excruciating pain in the hip, knee, and ankle. If you're naturally turned out from the hip*, you can't change that, it's how you're built, just like some people trying to GET turnout never will because they aren't built for it.

                              *For reference, I didn't take ballet until I was 20 and then just a semester, but have always turned out and can take very extreme variations on the ballet positions, to the point my version of a tight fifth makes my ballroom pros cringe and grab for their knees (I have one foot straight forward and one straight back. Yes, it looks bizarre and yes I often do it just to creep people out.) When I demonstrated that for a couple friends once, she said "But you can't be doing that from the hip" and he (a physical therapist) said "Hon, if she weren't turned out from the hip her leg would be broken." All the time with the twine tying my stirrup as a kid did precisely zip because I am simply not built to turn in. It's never interfered with my ability to keep my leg on, it just take a big effort to keep my toes from sticking out straight to the side.
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                              • #16
                                Mine stick way too far out too (When standing, I can turn both of my feet backwards while facing forward) but I try not to let it interfere with my riding. I think about it occasionally, along with trying to flatten my back, but I generally focus on more important things, like how my horse is going. It is something that can only be fixed slowly over time, so don't stress too much trying to change it in a couple rides. It is hard to fix something that feels uncomfortable to do.


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by danceronice View Post
                                  Because it's natural and from the hip, all the twine trick does is cause excruciating pain in the hip, knee, and ankle. If you're naturally turned out from the hip*, you can't change that.
                                  Thank you. I, too, am naturally turned out from the hip. My ballet-dancing mother drooled over that ability. My riding trainer most certainly did not.

                                  Tying my stirrups to the girth nearly tore my cruciates. My body simply Does. Not. Go. That. Way.
                                  Life would be infinitely better if pinatas suddenly appeared throughout the day.


                                  • #18
                                    I am very much of the belief that toes should point where they point.

                                    If they go forward, great. If they angle out a bit, great.

                                    We (general we) always look at horse conformation when we go to go purchase them, so why aren't we looking at our own conformation when riding "issues" such as this come about?

                                    Not everyone is able to get a 45 degree turnout, nor is everyone going to be able to get their toes forward.

                                    Mine happen to be neither, and it doesn't effect my riding...where if I try to turn out or turn in, my position falls apart.

                                    ETA: I would love to see pictures of those who can have a 45 degree angle in their toes the whole ride....


                                    • #19
                                      It starts in your normal walking posture. If you walk with your toes turned out, it's a problem in your hips. Fix it in how you walk, and you'll fix it under saddle.

                                      I've done it. It took about a year to develop the muscle memory to where it's now the normal way I walk and I never think about it. But my ankles hurt so much less now.


                                      • Original Poster


                                        As you can see from this pic, it definitely does come from the hip.

                                        Now, I learned to ride in the 60's (yes, that old ), and I remember more the "knees in" from my instructor. Fast forward and its a whole different ballgame. When I became a rerider, I had to learn to wrap my legs around the horse. But that isn't really all there is to it, because I see a lot of students who wrap their lower legs and have DAYLIGHT between their knees and the saddle. Its the whole leg that must have contact. Too much lower leg and the horse is driven forward too much. Pinch with the knee and the lower leg swings and your balance is off. So the upper thigh and knee actually need more contact, saving the lower leg, calves, to put on the pressure when needed.

                                        I don't have daylight between the saddle and my knees, but I do constantly worry I'll spur my horse unintentionally because my toes turn out. I don't know if they are too turned out or not, reading some of the posts. One of the trainers at my barn says I "break at my ankles", not sure what that means.