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OK so does anyone teach "heels Down" anymore?

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  • OK so does anyone teach "heels Down" anymore?

    Sorry but I may be too "old school" but I was just watching the live feed of the Hunter o/f classes at the Syracuse SH invitational and not one of those riders had their heels down.

    Some rode with a level heel-to-toe (barely) while quite a few had heels up-hips wide open riding on top of their horses.

    Is this the new vogue or am I missing something? I teach all of my students heels down to anchor yourself into your saddle and with your horse. A few of mine have been on their horse when their horse has tripped (and bad trips) or refused or spooked and they have stayed on b/c they were anchored. I saw one girl on the live feed get jumped out of her saddle every time and her horse was not over jumping the jumps (looked like 2'6") she was all over that saddle.

    If my short legs can get around the barrel of just about any horse and get my 45 year old legs to go long and sink into my heels, in a relaxed manner, why is this not taught?

    I am a stickler for good equitation and I see instructor after instructor not care (as long as they stay on the horse basically).

    Am I way off base of something?

  • #2
    I have been wondering the same thing.....My daughter took lessons at a local lesson barn for a few years and not once, to ANY student did I hear those words come out of any instructors mouth...Or really anything position related....Fortunately, I had done the basics with her when she was younger and stressed the importance of how "keeping your leg underneath you and dropping your weight down into your heel" will help your ride through almost anything.....
    Crayola Posse: Mulberry

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    • #3
      I've heard my BO/Trainer tell me from time to time, 'Heels Down, leg back, chest out and head up.'
      Chronicle of My Horse
      Secret Passage Ranch
      **a member of the
      Riders with Fibromyalgia & Adult Re-riders Clique

      Comment


      • #4
        OHHH boy, my trainer does And previous trainers have It is a must really and if a trainer doesn't teach this then I don't think they should really consider themselves a trainer
        Horses aren't our whole life, but makes our life whole

        Comment


        • #5
          While the finished product should indeed have their heels down, chanting it without reason (as I see locally) and focusing on it almost to exclusion is nearly useless. Some rare people will "get it" and it will influence their entire body. More of them will push their leg forward and sacrifice their entire position to get their heels down, or some other version.. the other obvious one being the hollow back and duck butt, which gets just as much praise

          Having been an equitation rider as a child, I can get my heels *freakishly* down. It is downright creepy and *does not make my position any more secure than when they are just reasonably down*.

          Work on the riders entire position is what is necessary. Emphasis on one part or another does not help them in the long run. At that level, yes, their heels should be down.. but then again, look at top jumper riders. Heels.. where? Up in the horses flank? Up around their ears? Hmmmm.
          "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
          ---
          The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.

          Comment


          • #6
            I have a mantra that i tell my kids.

            Heels down, chin up, shoulders back, look ahead, drop your weight, stretch your legs down. ride off your thigh not your foot. REPEAT REPEAT REPEAT

            I may not make pretty eq riders or fancy hunter riders but by golly they will make RIDERS and stick to most anything with 4 legs
            Proud Mama of a BOY rider

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            • #7
              No particular idea where "heels down" went, but one thing I learned from this BB is that if one has a hard time accomplishing "heels down" think "toes up" instead. Very helpful to me!
              You have to have experiences to gain experience.

              1998 Morgan mare Mythic Feronia "More Valley Girl Than Girl Scout!"

              Comment


              • #8
                I definitely was taught heels down and a good leg position by being made to trot 2 point with no hands in every lesson for what seemed like forever.

                My daughter had one instructor who would tell her students TOES UP, so they would look like they had their heels down, but in reality it did nothing for their security. After hearing it a few times, stopped using her.
                Lowly Farm Hand with Delusions of Barn Biddieom.
                Witherun Farm
                http://witherun-farm.blogspot.com/

                Comment


                • #9
                  You can't put your toes up without putting your heels down unless you are riding barefoot. Its just an easier visual for some people to tell them to point their toes up than to put their heels down. That said, heels down however it is taught is mandatory to be a rider in my opinion. Its the closest thing we have to a seat belt. I can't say I never come off but its probably saved me 1000's of time over the years. Not to mention I bet if you had every fall on video and could watch it in slow motion that the majority of the time you would see that your heels came up at the last second anyway meaning if you could have kept your weight in your heels you might not have come off.
                  McDowell Racing Stables

                  Home Away From Home

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Toes up and ... when we looked down we were ONLY to see the tip of our boot... that was even MORE important.

                    I have heard some instructors mumble about other instructors allowing teens to jump before they learn complete equitation - because that's what the teen and the non-horsey parents want to see.. fast results ... whereas the instructors I've worked with (but I'm not a hunter-jumper rider - just chatting) say they lose teen clients because of how long the instructor spends on ground work and equitation ... as in months or a year before allowing the child to jump.

                    So... it could well be our "want it now" that lets people jump without basics.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Uh, in my classes I do! HEELS DOWN/TOES UP is repeated constantly to my beginners. I tell them why too, so they don't just think I'm saying it cuz it makes 'em look pretty in the saddle
                      <>< Sorrow Looks Back. Worry Looks Around. Faith Looks Up! -- Being negative only makes a difficult journey more difficult. You may be given a cactus, but you don't have to sit on it.

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                      • #12
                        My instructors have all taught that I must have weight in my heels (and I'm an eventer - never done eq - at least, not for anything other than miles at the local level). I have very stiff ankles (from repeated injuries), so I CAN'T get my heels down to what I call the "hunter eq standard," but they are still absorbing the shock (well, when I'm riding properly, anyway ).

                        I must say, I've never been sure what was worse, though: those cranked down heels so prevalent in some circles or a level foot. At least if the foot is level, the ankles CAN absorb some of the shock, which is what gives the "heels down" position it's security.
                        Proud member of the EDRF

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                        • #13
                          Having been an equitation rider as a child, I can get my heels *freakishly* down.
                          ha ha....me too - when I was going through physical therapy after breaking my leg and being laid up for more than 7 months (very very bad break) ... the therapist measured my toe-heel "stretch" in my good leg and she was amazed that I was **several** degrees beyond what marathon runners achieve and they typically have the most stretch of any athlete she knows of!!

                          and gee... I'm a western rider.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Laurierace View Post
                            You can't put your toes up without putting your heels down unless you are riding barefoot. Its just an easier visual for some people to tell them to point their toes up than to put their heels down. That said, heels down however it is taught is mandatory to be a rider in my opinion. Its the closest thing we have to a seat belt. I can't say I never come off but its probably saved me 1000's of time over the years. Not to mention I bet if you had every fall on video and could watch it in slow motion that the majority of the time you would see that your heels came up at the last second anyway meaning if you could have kept your weight in your heels you might not have come off.
                            Actually, the way she was teaching it, it was 'toes up' but there was no real weight in the heel.. i.e., they weren't being taught to stretch down through the leg to the heel.
                            Lowly Farm Hand with Delusions of Barn Biddieom.
                            Witherun Farm
                            http://witherun-farm.blogspot.com/

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              All the trainers I've had have tried to drill the heels down into me. One trainer who I was working for actually told me that I wasn't allowed to ride anymore until I could get my heels down... so I stopped riding (and didn't ride for the 6 months after that point that I was still with her).

                              My trainer I have now tried to drill the heels down thing into me too... and then I think she realized that I just *can't* get my heels down. My ankles do not flex enough to get to that point. I broke my ankle in June and when I started PT, the physical therapist measured how far I could bring my heels down and was shocked when I could barely bring it even on my good leg... let alone my bad one. So now, my trainer has let it go unless my heel starts to really raise up. Even is pretty much the best I can do.
                              "People ask me 'will I remember them if I make it'. I ask them 'will you remember me if I don't?'"

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                I have a bad, bad bad habit of letting my heels creep up, and always have. I sit in a chair with just my toes touching the ground, I am VERY tight through the calves and hamstrings as a result. I try to correct myself and sit with my feet flat on the floor. My very first instructor was with ASBs, and I clearly remember him making me cross my stirrups in front of me (I think I was 9 or 10 at the time) and post around the arena like that....and I had to keep a 2x4 under my toes at home if I was doing homework or washing dishes to help me stretch and remind myself to keep my heels down.
                                Think I need to stop by the lumber store on the way home.....
                                Dee
                                Founder of the I LOFF my worrywart TB clique!
                                Official member of the "I Sing Silly Songs to My Animals!" Clique
                                http://wilddiamondintherough.blogspot.ca/

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Right on!

                                  It's really hard to find a coach that will teach the schooled rider equitation. When my dressage coach teaches me new lateral moves I always have to stop and go over what goes where and I tell him to remind me.

                                  Some riders forget from time to time and become sloppy if there is no one there watching and correcting.
                                  Just last month I saw some pictures of myself and was appalled by my equitation over fences. I have since been riding one particular horse with a neck strap to work on my two point and release over fences. ; ) Taaa-Daa. After one jumping session with him I relearned a long crest release.

                                  I always address equitation when working with riders/students/friends.
                                  I have one stand up all the time in her stirrups to stretch out her calf muscle and achilles tendon.
                                  And the other I chant: shoulders back, heals down, elbows soft, straighten out your wrist, calm your post.
                                  http://kaboomeventing.com/
                                  http://kaboomeventing.blogspot.com/
                                  Horses are amazing athletes and make no mistake -- they are the stars of the show!

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    I teach heels down. I lose track of how many times a day I say that, actually. I also teach toes up IF the rider tends to ride in a chair seat. But it's always toes up and weight in your heels. My trainer tells everyone in her lessons "weight in your heels." HER trainer, in their first lesson together (on her stallion who's about as trained as a horse can get), was telling her "heels down." Yeah, that was funny to hear your trainer being told to keep her heels down!
                                    I love my Econo-Nag!

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by gabz View Post
                                      Toes up and ... when we looked down we were ONLY to see the tip of our boot... that was even MORE important.

                                      I have heard some instructors mumble about other instructors allowing teens to jump before they learn complete equitation - because that's what the teen and the non-horsey parents want to see.. fast results ... whereas the instructors I've worked with (but I'm not a hunter-jumper rider - just chatting) say they lose teen clients because of how long the instructor spends on ground work and equitation ... as in months or a year before allowing the child to jump.

                                      So... it could well be our "want it now" that lets people jump without basics.
                                      Yup.

                                      I feel like a broken record saying "heels down" fifty thousand times during my once-a-week lessons and if I waited until the student had their heel down to the point where I was certain that they had more weight in their leg than they did in their saddle; few of my students would ever jump. Ok, maybe I am exaggerating a bit but I suspect that if you actually did some kind of fitness level test on once-a-week riders vs. 5/6 day a week riders...you would see a great disparity.

                                      I was bemoaning the downfalls of once-a-week lessons on the H/J forum - riding once a week doesn't really promote riding muscle tone so as instructors, we do the best we can while still hoping to keep clients. I think probably most once-a-weekers develop really good balance and some are definitely more natural than others which is most likely what keeps them on.

                                      Case in point, when all goes well, I've seen some very nice short courses ridden by my once-a-weekers (thank the good Lord for auto pilot school horses) but when mistakes happen, I've seen the same rider who just put together 4 nice jumps; loose their stirrups over a close distance and ride the neck into the corner.

                                      So, as an instructor, what do you do? If you actually took the amount of time to build a once-a-weeker's muscle/balance up to the point where a 5 day-a-weeker's would be....you would seriously still be at the "heels down" stage a year later. And I'm not talking the "look" of the heel down...I mean actually weight in your lower leg, anchoring your upper body, 80% to 20% kind of heels down.
                                      \"Don\'t go throwing effort after foolishness\" >>>Spur, Man From Snowy River

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        I do and for children they play a competitive game whereby they have a small amount of sand on their toe tip and they've to ride so that it stays there.

                                        This helps with muscle memory.

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