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OK so does anyone teach "heels Down" anymore?

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  • #41
    Originally posted by classicsporthorses View Post
    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?
    On a similiar topic I was slackjawed looking at in my recent COTH of the old Washington International champs and their lovely automatic releases then contrasting that to the various big time equitation champs (that publication and the one that came today) all using massive crest releases. That is not intended to take away from the serious hard work and skill it takes to ride those Medal courses, the kids are good. I was taught a crest release is what you use until your legs & seat are developed.


    • #42
      "Heels down" is alive and well where I ride.
      It's 2019. Do you know where your old horse is? -- website with horse show livestream listings and links.


      • #43
        I still think the ultimate championship would be to put all these famous modern day equ riders on ottb's and see who actually has balance and

        One only needs to look at the congratulatory pics scattered throughout COTH and Equestrian to see what we have created todayt. The horseflesh is stunning....the equitation, by and large a lost art in the classical sense.

        "You can't really debate with someone who has a prescient invisible friend"


        • Original Poster

          Thanks all I am glad to see that at least on here heels down is alive and well. If we could only get instructors and judges to confer.

          My point was not about "forcing" the heels down. It's as other has said, and I believe I did in my first post, long, relaxed and yet strong as well as coming around one's horse.

          My students and in the clinics I teach, are amazed when I can "make" the horse respond when they can't. I often will hop on a horse to show them the contact I am trying to verbally convey and then position their leg, heel/foot, pelvis etc. to help them to try to start to change the neuro pathways to a new body position.

          I cringe at our 4-H shows, through I would die when I was at Penn Nationals and for all intents and purposes if I were some of those horses I would have bucked my rider off. God Bless those horses.

          Maybe we should start making some t-shirts that say "heels down, eye's up".


          • #45
            Flaunt those puppies if you got 'em!!

            I came from riding western and then a 13 year break and found a passion for Dressage... how long it will take me to get where I want to be I dont know.

            Age is definantly a factor, as well as my out of shape body. Its def hard for me to keep those heels down with tensing my whole lower leg, then pinching with my knees and lodging myelf out ofthe saddle and off balance. I spend so much time focusing on what I should be doing, that I stop paying attention to how I am actually riding and those heels come up. I actually like being reminded to keep them down because I check myself on where everything else is and correct it all together... its great hearing praise for getting it right too....something that I dont hear a lot of instructors do with their beginner student... and I've sat in on a LOT of lessons...beginners to advanced to professional trainig sessions.

            So my trainer doesnt chant, but probably says it 2x a lesson, unless I'm having a good lesson... along with "stick those puppies out there! If you got 'em flaunt 'em..." meaning boobs out, chest out as mentioned before. I've gotten so much better about using my core to sit tall in the saddle, shoulders back, and putting my weight in my heels and my bum in the seat. Heels down def makes for effective riding when you get in a sticky situation....although I dont understand how or why some people ride with their heels down and toes out... or just toes out, its ugly to me. You might as well be flapping your legs when you ride.

            I hope it doesnt take me years and years to make progress, but it is surprising that at my previous barns after 3 beginners lessons the instructors are sending kids over cross rails... theres no foundation there. I def want to have a foundation.

            I'm glad my instructor isnt letting me do any Dressage technique, jumping etc ( even basic basic stuff) before the 6 months mark, whether I'm ready for it or not. Its all flat work for me, balance and position, 2-3 times a week, and the gym the rest of the week.
            Crayola Posse~Aquamarine
            Love vs Money...for the love of my horse, I have no money!


            • #46
              Regarding modern riders and the heels up position...

              it is damn hard to keep your heels down when you are laying on the horses neck. It's simply biomechanics..

              Now, if you are folding down correctly, it's easy. As illustrated.
              Attached Files
              "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
              The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.


              • #47
                Originally posted by EqTrainer View Post
                Regarding modern riders and the heels up position...

                it is damn hard to keep your heels down when you are laying on the horses neck. It's simply biomechanics..

                Now, if you are folding down correctly, it's easy. As illustrated.
                This is very, very true.

                Ever tried to take one of those cute pictures with you hugging your horse while on his back, and keep your leg in the "right" position? You can only do it by tensing up your whole leg, which would be painful and totally ineffective to do while actually cantering/jumping.
                Proud member of the EDRF


                • #48
                  My daughter was 8 when she started lessons and is now 11 and showing. Her trainer has chanted "eyes up, heels down, shoulders back" so many times that I hear it in my sleep. This 23 yr old instructor is VERY position oriented and my daughter has learned to sit bucks, kicks etc, even at the canter. We call her "velcro butt" but it is really the heels down, weight down position that saves her life!


                  • #49
                    Sometimes I have to be told 'Heels up!' I have a tendency to push my heels down as far as they can possibly go, sometimes far enough to hurt, and keep them there. It's not so bad anymore, but it was a big problem for a while. Now my heels are still far down, but a bit more reasonably so.

                    ETA: and when my heels are pushed down I can sit out anything. Heavensdew, I think it's fabulous that your young daughter already has a good seat.
                    Rebel Without Cash!


                    • #50
                      Lord knows I am told 20 times a lesson to put my heels down.

                      I don't always get them down in general riding but as soon as the horse I ride starts bucking/bolting/ect. my butt glues to the saddle and my hands go up and heels go down.
                      “It's about the horse and that's it.” - GM

                      !! is the new .


                      • #51
                        We get told to "sink your weight into your heel and keep your leg on...don't force your heel down if your conformation won't allow it"! More importantly though, we focus on not swinging our legs, making sure they stay still & absorb without the heels coming up!
                        I have cancer but cancer doesn’t have me!


                        • #52
                          For beginners, yes, I teach heels down. However, with the more advanced students I do not. Here's why: Sitting at your computer, stretch your heels down and feel what it does to your calf muscles- It tightens them right? It's hard to have a supple, balanced sitting trot or canter with your legs tight around the horse. For beginners or that occassionally necessary "oh $hit" position- yes, heels down definitely, but for advanced work- soft supple leg is more important
                          "You'll never see yourself in the mirror with your eyes closed"


                          • #53
                            I agree with the posters that have noticed that competitors are showing/jumping before solidifying a secure riding position that includes "heels down"!

                            I remember an illustration, I believe it was Sally Swift's "Centered Riding", that superimposed a scoop of ice cream on a sugar cone over a rider's frame seated on a horse. The ice cream scoop was the rider's head and the tip of the cone was the heel. The ice cream was melting, dripping down the cone thru the tip. The idea was to feel the downward force of the drip to your heel which emphasized weighting your heel.

                            I think I remember this illustration often and vividly b/c I like ice cream so much!