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Why ought to heels go down?

I’ve observed, through the years, riders are reminded to place their heels down by their coaches over and over, and because the rider thinks about it within the second the heel goes down, however shortly after, the rider thinks about one thing else, and there’s no longer weight within the heel. So the coach says once more “put your heels down.” Typically it’s all they are saying, simply “put your heels down”. A damaged report of 4 phrases.

As riders grow to be extra skilled, they finally discover their very own stability, which comes with a sure mindfulness and management of the heel, permitting them to seem extra secure within the tack, and able to doing extra issues.

Much less skilled riders appear to battle with precisely how a lot stress to placed on their heels, when to place their heels down, and when to make use of them to make their horses carry out higher.

I discover it’s simpler for me to know HOW and WHEN to place my heel down, slightly than merely jamming it right into a locked, typically too painful, place. To me, heels down is definitely being able to manage your stability, not essentially a extreme angle to indicate off the underside of your toes, however stay fluid sufficient so your horses reply favorably to your leg. Particularly within the hunter ring.



On the stroll, I truly don’t put stress on my stirrup or heel. As a substitute, I “elevate” my toes up in my boots first to attempt to contact the roof of these boots. It’s a completely different power. I’m not straining my hamstrings, and I’m nonetheless getting fairly a little bit of flexion in my ankle which “drops” my heel with out jamming it.

Why? The horse will react to a rider pushing so exhausting to get the heel down. I don’t need the horse to react to that motion. They’re delicate sufficient to be like “hey? are we going now?” If I elevate my toes upward first, the horse doesn’t really feel damaging power, and I may give higher managed leg aides with out complicated him. The size of my leg truly grows when I’m not straining to push my heel down from the hip.


The posting trot is an up/down movement.

In posting trot I sink my heel as I come “down” to the underside a part of my put up, so my heel drops naturally and with out damaging power, and I attempt to maintain it there for the “up” of the posting trot. Some folks make the error of lifting the heel as they sink to the “down” a part of the put up, after which attempt to put weight within the heel as they arrive up out of the saddle for the “up” movement.

I want the timing of sinking the heel on the “down” a part of the put up and leaving it there once I put up “up”. The power, once more, is completely different, and the delicate horses is not going to be reactionary to my leg. If I keep in mind to consider lifting my heel up in my boots on the trot as nicely, I’ve full management of the place my decrease leg is positioned on the horse, and might use it in a more practical and engaging method.

Does practising the Two-Level assist? Sure completely, when carried out accurately. Bear in mind, the Two-point (to me) is the excessive a part of the put up or the “up”. Most individuals go additional ahead or lean over. I don’t. I can maintain my heel beneath me and elevate my butt out of the saddle to the excessive a part of the put up. I maintain my leg in the identical place, lifting the toes within the prime of the boot.


The canter has a unique timing.

I put my heel down AS the horse takes his lead leg ahead. Many riders do the alternative, however their timing is pressured, not pure. If the heel goes down AS the lead leg goes ahead, you may have ten instances the management of the way to use your decrease leg with out pissing the horse off. The legs develop longer in addition to stronger, helpful on using several types of horses.

Later, when the horse jumps, your timing of your heel taking place with the lead leg will let you land in your heel for a safer, smoother expertise.

Cantering the horse and enthusiastic about the timing of the heel taking place additionally makes your muscle mass much less drained as a result of when carried out correctly, the muscle mass have a tiny second after they loosen up earlier than following the movement of the lead leg once more. The muscle mass flex, and when the muscle mass in your leg flex, guess what? They construct energy on their very own. Take into consideration a squeezing a kind of rubber balls in your hand to enhance energy or cut back stress. You squeeze the ball and let go proper? In any other case, squeezing and holding the ball for an hour will truly damage you. So you need to squeeze the ball then launch it to permit the ball to come back again to measurement. My legs comply with the canter a lot the identical means.

Right here, a pony rider offers an instance of cantering with the heel down. Over time and expertise, the leg is not going to ‘grip’ too tightly which is able to make this rider more proficient to hotter blooded animals.

You possibly can inform from the bottom which riders can comply with with their legs first as a result of if you watch the midsection of the rider, the hips usually are not stiff, however unfastened and following. Riders who’re tiring themselves by jamming the heel down and holding the place are normally holding their our bodies elsewhere in the identical stiff means. I don’t suppose the horses like notably stiff riders.

Certainly there are a number of shifting components on a rider and a horse, so speaking in regards to the heel down and nothing else could appear a bit unfair. The extent and expertise in a rider modifications over time and expertise, however I actually attempt to suppose in regards to the heel as I’m using, (it doesn’t matter what type of horse),and it offers me a second to really feel the power in my very own physique in addition to my steed. If you’re prepared to strive one thing new, you could be stunned to the place it takes your stage of using.




Every thing I’ve practiced on the flat will come into play for the jumps. If I start trotting a trot pole to a cross rail, I’ll step into my heel on the pole and maintain it there over the soar so I LAND in my heel on the again facet. When you battle to do that by yourself, do this imagery. It’s a bit like attempting to the touch your toe to the horse’s shoulder as they take off over the soar. You possibly can’t, however think about when you may. That slight movement to strive will truly maintain your leg beneath of you if you soar. In case your leg is beneath of you if you soar then you may have now found the flexibility to land in your heel on the bottom of the soar.

Not your toe, not your knee, not your bum, however truly touchdown in your heel.

Cantering fences is identical as trotting the fences, solely I begin to transfer my heel barely ahead three strides away from the fence. By that point I ought to have dedicated to a tempo to get me to the soar, so I not want to inform the horse to go ahead. If he isn’t a child, (simply studying the way to soar), I ought to belief he’s going to see us by to the opposite facet.  Nonetheless, if he jumps too excessive, too low, too good, or too terrible, my leg will at all times catch me on the bottom, no matter antics or awkwardness.

Right here this rider reveals what it’s wish to trip together with your heel down cantering fences.



If I’m using a child child, I’ll truly make certain my leg is additional in entrance of me than regular till I do know for certain he isn’t going to clear the soar like an orangutang. Permitting or not controlling the leg to slide again will truly scare a younger horse and make them fast off the bottom. an enormous no-no within the hunter world. I rely upon this when attempting new horses or minimally broke horses.

Within the hunters, we want to have the horses look and seem easy, soar slower than a jumper or eventer, and have the potential of by no means altering tempo. Controlling the decrease leg higher will management the tempo as you go across the ring.

You may even see prime professionals truly flip their decrease leg up and again when leaping a bigger fence and marvel why. These riders can actually management components of their our bodies which defy gravity, however they do that to ask the horse to leap larger. For 90% of us on the market, we don’t want be so excessive..  Typically, you will see footage of me truly lifting my heels precisely excessive of the soar, for precisely the identical motive. It could not appear to be I’ve no depth of heel, however I can truly FEEL when to squeeze the stomach upward to create extra arc within the bascule. It’s so slight, however it’s my means of making an phantasm that the horse is leaping higher than he actually is.



Don’t be fooled if you see riders exaggerate the decrease leg, or ‘swing’ their legs again, they could be geniuses at work attempting to create magical unicorns on your viewing pleasure.

This can be a judged sport, in spite of everything, and outdoors of equitation, it’s the horse being judged….


Using with stirrups too brief or too lengthy. Using with stirrups too brief will truly make it more durable to focus on the heel taking place with the proper timing. I’ve discovered individuals who trip shorter are literally attempting to repair the issue of “dropping” their stirrups, however the knees will separate from the tack or flip “out” over a soar” and alter the stability completely of the rider. The stirrup must be lengthy sufficient so the underside hits your ankle bone which stands out out of your foot. When you cry out in ache when your ankle bone clonks it, you’re in all probability on the proper size. If the stirrup bar hits larger, you’re using too brief.

Too lengthy a stirrup will power the toe to maintain contact with the stirrup, lifting the heel for stability. If you’re struggling to maintain your heel down on the flat, you really want to try to alter to the ankle bone. Most riders with too lengthy a stirrup have very weak or unhealthy leg place over the jumps as a result of they’re extra apprehensive about dropping tools slightly than controlling the leg.

That is an instance of me using with too lengthy a stirrup, which I should alter earlier than I discover my means again to the present ring. I’m not dropping my stability, however the leg is by far weaker in touch and smoothness of the trip. Granted a 5 month hiatus will try this to an individual. As I grow to be stronger, the stirrup size will grow to be extra acceptable.



Does it matter which type of stirrup you trip with?

I imply it shouldn’t, however that is all about expertise within the tack. I trip in a Sprenger stirrup as a result of I want the heavier weight in comparison with the lighter composite materials. I additionally like how they flex, and my knees say thanks to me day-after-day. However stirrups shouldn’t have an effect on your skill to manage your heel. In the event that they do, you may have greater points. Journey in what you’re most comfy in, however trip together with your heel in thoughts slightly than the stirrup.

Good heels make for good stability. Good luck!




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