Lower Leg not still (tying to girth?)

Discussion in 'Training of the Horse and Rider' started by PromiseMe, Aug 16, 2006.

  1. PromiseMe

    PromiseMe ~Free Spirit~

    Sep 6, 2004
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    My lower leg, especially at posting trot and over fences... isn't very still. It tends to move around a lot.

    Any ideas/exerciseswords of advice to correct this?

    I know some people tie their stirrups to the girth. And other believe this to be very dangerous. (I have never tried it)
    But if I just tie it lightly with string (that would break) and I ride with safety stirrups (elastic side that will allow my foot to break free) what is the harm?
    Although I am not sure if this method would even help with the lower leg moving... and it doesn't sound like the 'right' way to correct this problem.
    What does everyone think?

    Thanks! :D
    #1 PromiseMe, Aug 16, 2006
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2006
  2. entreat

    entreat Number of Falls - 8

    Apr 2, 2003
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    Wobbling lower legs can be from a couple of things, and there isn't a quick fix for them. The two main reasons are 1) pinching knees/tense thighs and 2) weak ankles. Both improve with time in the saddle, but are likely to improve lots if you do strengthening and suppling exercises.

    For 2) you want to focus on your calf and ankle strength and flexibility. Stand on the edge of step, with your right heel hanging off the edge & the ball of the foot on the step. Slowly drop your heel in a controlled manner and at the bottom of a comfortable stretch, hold for 3 to 5 breaths. Now raise your heel up so you're on tip-toes & hold for 3 to 5 breaths. Don't make your lift so severe that you give yourself cramp in your calf!!. And don't forget to keep a hand on the wall for support, and Swap legs. When you are doing this with relative ease, increase you breaths to 8. You can then do both at the same time, and then do one foot at a time with the other foot wrapped behind your calf (ie, working more on balance with the strength & stretch) & not using your other foot for balance. (I suspect that last sentence didn't make much sense...).

    If you have tension through your thighs and/or pinching with your knees, you'll tend to loose your stirrups a lot. This will improve as your seat develops and deepens & you rely less on your stirrups for support. For off the horse, work on stretching all the muscles & ligaments through the lower back, hips and thighs - they are what give you a deep seat. Don't neglect your hamstrings, groin or glutes. Strong, but supple Hip Flexors are hugely important for lengthening the leg by giving you the flexibility to draw the knee down and back from the beginners seat.

    I'm in the process of scanning some stretches from a book for these areas & I'll post them when I get a chance.

    I personally hate the idea of strapping your stirrups to the girth. It doesn't address the issues, only masks the symptoms & the symptoms are likely to be expressed in other ways. It's like in the cartoons... you plug one hole and another one sprouts - until you're all stretched out in impossible positions! Instead, you could just re-plaster the wall which is initially more work, but in the end gives a better result.
  3. Lou!

    Lou! Guest

    First thing, don't tie your stirrups to the girth because that's keeping your stirrups still, not your leg and you'll probably lose them alot more. Try to think of keeping a vertical stirrup leather at all times, then you know the weight is going down. I'm not sure whether you have your own horse to ride, but if you do, shorten your stirrups right up, not so much that your knees are off the rolls though. Then when you're warming your horse up, you can stay out of the saddle, practising keeping your leg in the correct position in walk, trot and canter, this will really strengthen your lower leg muscles and rising out of the saddle means all the weight will be in your stirrups meaning your lower leg has to be secure or you'll fall back down. It's hard work but you'll get there eventually.
    Good luck.

  4. Friendly Filly

    Friendly Filly New Member

    Aug 19, 2006
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    I have the same problem. My RI used webbing straps to fasten the stirrups to the girth to let me experience where my leg should be, but left them on for only about 15 mins of my lesson. It felt quite strange, which showed me that my legs did move about far too much, and were often too far forward. I have been working on flexibility exercises, but it's slow progress. As with anything, it's worth putting in the effort, and don't get too disspirited if it doesn't happen as quickly as you expect it should - we are all different, and it can take older muscles longer to learn to stretch and be used properly in riding if we're new to it.
    Good luck!
  5. jUmPingIsLifE

    jUmPingIsLifE ~A*u*t*u*m*n~S*u*n~

    Jan 5, 2002
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    i have had my stirrups tied with yarn before. Doesn't solve the problem, but it does give you a good feel of where your leg should be. My instructer plays the "how long can you go without breaking the yarn" game.

    like someone already said though, work on relaxing your leg and letting go with it. make sure you arn't pinching. Lunge lessons really work wonders!
  6. nelle

    nelle Member

    May 27, 2005
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    I'd recommend lunge lessons too, I've had 3 and have booked another 4 today! It gives you an opportunity to concentrate fully on your position without having to worry what the horse is doing (that's the theory - took me a couple of lessons to get used to this).

    Good luck

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