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Bouncy Lower Leg

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  • Bouncy Lower Leg

    I'm looking for some suggestions on how to improve my leg position. My lower leg has been bouncing up and down when riding both at the trot and canter. I also am having difficulty with keeping my entire lower leg on my horse. My upper calf makes contact, but my lower calf and ankle area don't really touch my horse's sides. I am working on this not just to be correct, but because my horse doesn't really respond to my leg when I just squeeze my upper calf, but she will move forward well if I can get my heels on her side. The difference is so dramatic that my trainer, who knows how to get her whole leg on her, spends all her training rides teaching her to slow down. But when I ride, I have to work really hard to get her to go.

    Can anyone recommend some exercises?
    My blog: Journeys in Riding

  • #2
    this was addressed last week......

    Search my moniker, you will find at least the starting point to your problem.

    Regards,
    Medical Mike
    equestrian medical researcher
    www.fitfocusedforward.us
    soon to be equicision.com

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by medical mike View Post
      Search my moniker, you will find at least the starting point to your problem.

      Regards,
      Medical Mike
      equestrian medical researcher
      www.fitfocusedforward.us
      soon to be equicision.com
      Mike, I took a peek through, but didn't know exactly which thread you meant.
      ~ Citizens for a Kinder, Gentler COTH...our mantra: Be nice. ~

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by LShipley View Post
        I'm looking for some suggestions on how to improve my leg position. My lower leg has been bouncing up and down when riding both at the trot and canter. I also am having difficulty with keeping my entire lower leg on my horse. My upper calf makes contact, but my lower calf and ankle area don't really touch my horse's sides. I am working on this not just to be correct, but because my horse doesn't really respond to my leg when I just squeeze my upper calf, but she will move forward well if I can get my heels on her side. The difference is so dramatic that my trainer, who knows how to get her whole leg on her, spends all her training rides teaching her to slow down. But when I ride, I have to work really hard to get her to go.

        Can anyone recommend some exercises?
        I recommend practicing your two-point at the trot every ride. Work up to five minutes + nonstop. It'll help your leg position, strength, balance, and it forces you to make equal contact all the way down in order to hold your position correctly. Be sure your stirrup length is correct....I see many people ride with too long of a stirrup and it makes their leg less effective.

        Comment

        • Original Poster

          #5
          Thanks Mike, and snaffle - I did look through last week's postings, and there are a lot of threads on a generally unstable lower leg, which do have lots of helpful advice. I found lots of little tidbits about uneven legs and instability that are helpful.

          Chawley -thanks for your suggestion to try two-point in trot. We actually two-point in our lessons most of the time for cantering, and I notice the bouncing up and down at the two-point. But, I still haven't quite figured it out. I'll try practicing it at the trot, and maybe at a slower pace, I'll have an easier time analyzing what my body is doing.
          My blog: Journeys in Riding

          Comment


          • #6
            LOTS and LOTS of no stirrup work. It gets your legs really strong so you can just use a little bit of your energy to keep your leg on the horse. Also, as others have said, two-point at the trot with and WITHOUT stirrups. It takes a lot of leg strength, but the more muscle you have, the easier it will be to keep your leg on. I almost want to say put something on the heel of your boot so you can feel it on your horses side... maybe a small small spur? I don't know if that would be a good solution, but if you had something there so you would know when your leg is on your horse, you will start to recognize where to keep your leg. It will help determine your strengths/weaknesses too, so you can see if you need more muscle. Hope this helps!
            "The hardest part of horses is the ground." ~unknown

            Comment


            • #7
              Make sure your foot is positioned correctly in the stirrup. The stirrup should be angled so the outer edge is more forward, with your pinkie toe close to the metal. You may need to stop and reposition occasionally at first.

              When you two-point, really stretch your leg down until you feel that "stretched muscle" feeling in your calf. Also try stretching your ankles before, during, and after your ride. Stretch both ways-toes up and toes down.
              "Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out." ~John Wooden

              Phoenix Animal Rescue

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by GryffinLuvr4Evr View Post
                ... maybe a small small spur? I don't know if that would be a good solution, but if you had something there so you would know when your leg is on your horse, you will start to recognize where to keep your leg. It will help determine your strengths/weaknesses too, so you can see if you need more muscle.
                If she has an unstable leg a spur would not be a good option for the horse! That would include jabbing , rubs, etc.

                It sounds more like she's using her lower leg incorrectly. I did this for a couple of years, I thought my leg was on (I mean I was dying!) but my coaches still yelled for me to use my leg. I found that it's not soo much your upper calf as your lower that should be in contact and applying pressure when needed. The area about 2in above your ankle to where the curve of the calf kind of ends. Do not use your heels because then they start to creep upwards when you want to use your leg.

                Comment


                • #9
                  How long are your legs/how big (barrel) are the horses that you are riding would be my question?

                  I have this same problem on some horses despite that I ride 5 days a week and usually 2 horses. My problem stems a lot from the fact that I hack my trainer's small barrelled (he's 15h) jumper almost everyday and my leg doesn't wrap around his barrel. There's just nothing there to take up my leg. Because I am not super tall (5'5"), I tend to ride the smaller horses and thus this contributes to the problem. My leg is way better on my own horse but alas, he is a baby and I don't ride him everyday.

                  No stirrups work will strengthen your leg but may not help strengthen that area. Two point will help a lot-I do a lot of WTC/trans in two point. The other exercise my trainer told me to do to help is to stand straight up in your irons at the WTC. Start at the walk (its a lot harder than it sounds) then gradually do more and more. If you are balanced, this should force you to keep your leg in the correct position and weight in your heels. It burns...believe me!
                  ************************
                  "I can't help but wonder,what would Jimmy Buffett do?"

                  https://falllinefarmblog.wordpress.com/

                  Comment

                  • Original Poster

                    #10
                    Thank you everyone for all your comments and suggestions. There is a lot of good advice in here, and things I need to pay attention to (like my stirrup to toe position!) and I guess I have my work with no stirrups cut out for me!

                    SherwoodAcres - yes! What you described is exactly what happens in my lessons. Do you keep your lower-lower leg that you described on your horse all the time, or just when you are asking for forward movement? Was there anything specific you did that helped you fix it, or did you just need to keep practicing it? I am trying to learn the feeling of what it means to keep that part of my leg on my horse all the time, and I guess for a while it will just take all my concentration.

                    Jersey Fresh - I'm small 5'1' and I'm in my 30's, so not growing anymore! My mare is 14 hands, and she is a QH, so she has wide shoulders, a flat back, and a medium barrel - not that super round pony barrel, but not a TB barrel either. The barn owner thinks she looks like a mini warmblood. So, I think she takes up my leg well - we do often get complimented on how well we suit each other in terms of size.

                    I actually do find it easier to get my leg around her with my stirrups a hole or two longer. But then my stirrups are too long for us to jump, even though we jump 2' to 2'3". I think, though, as I learn to keep my heels down more, my leg will be longer with my current stirrup length, and we'll be good.
                    My blog: Journeys in Riding

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by LShipley View Post
                      We actually two-point in our lessons most of the time for cantering, and I notice the bouncing up and down at the two-point. But, I still haven't quite figured it out. I'll try practicing it at the trot, and maybe at a slower pace, I'll have an easier time analyzing what my body is doing.
                      It is much easier to ride the two point at the canter. When you do it at the trot, it really forces you to have your full leg on and keep your center of balance over the middle of the horse. It's a great work out and as our friend Pirateer stated on another thread the other day, it's George's miracle cure for most position issues!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by LShipley View Post
                        SherwoodAcres - yes! What you described is exactly what happens in my lessons. Do you keep your lower-lower leg that you described on your horse all the time, or just when you are asking for forward movement? Was there anything specific you did that helped you fix it, or did you just need to keep practicing it? I am trying to learn the feeling of what it means to keep that part of my leg on my horse all the time, and I guess for a while it will just take all my concentration.
                        I do usually keep it on his side all the time like resting there. It's in contact with very slight pressure and then when I need to use it, I push it into my horse. And to fix my previous problem, it really took changing coaches a bunch of times and a couple years of just getting the feel for where my leg should be and how to use it properly. Then one day it finally clicked!

                        What I found worked over those years was, and this is contrary to what everyone else is saying, but do not try to force your heels down! Try this, when your horse is at a halt and you are both relaxed take a breath and exhale, don't think about your position just relax. Then pay attention to where your heel has fallen naturally. I would suggest working with your heel in this position for a while. I found that coaches kept telling me to "put my heels down" which made me force and push them down which was a huge factor to why I couldn't get my leg on correctly. My heel was sitting in an unnatural position as I found I was most comfortable with it halfway from being parallel to the ground and deeply down in my stirrup. If you do have the same prob I used to have, you should also relax your inner thigh and knee. I found I was overly using my inner thigh and almost locking my knee to balance myself when I was forcing my heel down which caused the bouncy leg effect. After a while you'll find that you will relax deeper into your heel and be more effective with your lower-lower leg as I now can ride comfortably with my heel in that super downward spot because it's not forced and I've relaxed!

                        I hope this has helped

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by SherwoodAcres View Post
                          If she has an unstable leg a spur would not be a good option for the horse! That would include jabbing , rubs, etc.

                          It sounds more like she's using her lower leg incorrectly. I did this for a couple of years, I thought my leg was on (I mean I was dying!) but my coaches still yelled for me to use my leg. I found that it's not soo much your upper calf as your lower that should be in contact and applying pressure when needed. The area about 2in above your ankle to where the curve of the calf kind of ends. Do not use your heels because then they start to creep upwards when you want to use your leg.
                          Um, that's why i put 'I don't know if that is a good solution.' Try to read the whole thing next time before you quote it and say its wrong. Thanks.
                          "The hardest part of horses is the ground." ~unknown

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            LShipley, are you turning your toes out at all? Toes pointing directly to the front make it difficult to maintain contact with the horse's side, and that contributes to a bouncy leg. Turning them out will enable you to keep them quietly where they should be and maintain a deep heel.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I've found that I first have to relax my thighs to the point where my knee is pulling away from the saddle. Only then can I wrap my whole lower legs around the horse. If there is any tension in my thighs, I can't do it.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by chawley View Post
                                I recommend practicing your two-point at the trot every ride. Work up to five minutes + nonstop. It'll help your leg position, strength, balance, and it forces you to make equal contact all the way down in order to hold your position correctly. Be sure your stirrup length is correct....I see many people ride with too long of a stirrup and it makes their leg less effective.
                                Big ditto! I work at my 2-point at both walk and trot every lesson (1x a week) and I have seen a huge improvement in my leg position in the last month.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Ride at least 2 days a week, and I mean really ride without stirrups. It will fix this with amazing results.
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