View Full Version : Help! Losing / feet through stirrups
13th Aug 2002, 10:30 AM
I think this has kind of been touched on before, but I wanted some specific help if possible.
I am returning to riding on a shared horse after a gap of 6-8 years with the odd lesson every month or so, though a bit more frequently this year.
I have noticed that my feet keep slipping either through the stirrup (stopped only by my heel) or losing them altogether. This is making me nervous about falling, catching my feet in the stirrup and breaking my leg LOL! :eek:
I know that my nerves are probably contributing to this problem (I never did it as a confident teen) and hopefully now that I will be riding 3 times a week on the same horse (a lovely schoolmaster) I will be able to rectify the problem.
So...I was hoping you could give me some tips on how to work on this when I start schooling? From reading some other posts, I am going to try & shorten my stirrups (I tend to ride quite long). Changing the tack is not an option (newly bought by owner).
Any ideas of exercises I could practice? I have no problem riding without stirrups.
13th Aug 2002, 10:57 AM
I ride western so this may not be effective with English. I was having problems with my feet slipping through at the lope (canter) in the same saddle I had ridden in for almost 5 years! There had been about a 9 month stretch between riding because I bought another saddle that I was riding in. Well when I returned to my old saddle, I was having this problem. Apparently, I had done some major growning in those 9 monthes and never cared to bring my stirrups down a few holes. I brought them down three holes and haven't had that problem since!
I wouldn't think this is the same answer to you considering in English your suppose to have shorter stirrups. Correct me if I'm wrong on that statement.
13th Aug 2002, 11:00 AM
the only thing I can say really with ouT looking at you is to make sure that your stirrups are the right size for you (do the tester, get stirrup under your arm pit to the end of your fingers and that is the correct measurment for your leg when you ride) Also when you ride make sure the ball of your foot (just from your toes) is on the stirrup and your heels are right down, push on the ball of the foot has hard as you can to keep the heel down, and that should stop you from losing your stirrups.
Good luck and let me know how you get on.
13th Aug 2002, 11:51 AM
To check your stirrups are the right length, after you have done the arm test as described above and you are on the horse, take your feet out the stirrups and the bottom of them should be just under the nobbly bit of your ankle.
To try to keep your feet in them when you ride, try putting your weight into your little toe rather than your heel as this will put your leg int eh right place and against the horse so that your foot will fall into the stirrup easier (and hopefully stay there!). If you push your heels down hard you will just end up pushing your legs forwards which will unbalance you and make losing your stirrups more likely.
13th Aug 2002, 12:20 PM
You might feel better if you bought a pair of peacocks.
13th Aug 2002, 12:28 PM
Thanks for the replies...
I always measure up my stirrups using the "armpit" measure ;) though I will have a look to see where my ankle rests when out of the stirrup. I can get the perfect position when standing but it's when I start to move into trot and in particular canter that it goes wrong. Like I said, I think this is partly due to nerves as I think I tense in anticipation of losing my stirrups. I will just have to try & build up my confidence a bit & see if that helps. Being able to school on my own should help - as opposed to "follow the leader" style lessons LOL
I may ask the owner about safety stirrups, though as I am sharing I have to make sure they are ok with this - otherwise I'd have to change the stirrups over before & after every ride:(
13th Aug 2002, 12:28 PM
peacocks (in case anyone doesn't know) are a type of safety stirrrups designed so your feet come out of the stirrups if you fall off. there are 2 types of safety stirrup, the "bent-leg" irons and ones with a rubber band forming the outside of the stirrup. if you lose your stirrups a lot when you ride, you're probably "gripping up" - ie, tensing your leg muscles, which brings your heels up and doesn't help your seat. think about relaxing your leg muscles and dropping your weight down through your leg. riding without stirrups will help you develop a more secure seat. another thing that might help is to grab hold of the muscle at the back of your thigh and turn it out, so your leg swivels in. this puts the flat inner thigh in contact with the saddle instead of the round back of the thigh, and is very good for keeping your legs where they're meant to be.
13th Aug 2002, 02:13 PM
--stirrup length could be to long
--your heels arn't down
feet fall through the stirrups when the heel comes up, so even if your heels come up a little bit, even for a second the stirrup could be sliding back.
13th Aug 2002, 03:08 PM
If you're tensing up that's definitely contributing to losing your stirrups! As soon as you tense up, you lose your proper leg position and your heel *probably* goes into the air :)
You can work on this in several ways. You can ride without stirrups--cross them across the front of your saddle so they don't bang the horse's sides. You won't have to worry about losing them and you can concentrate on just doing it properly :)
You can also stand in the saddle as you're riding to work on stretching your leg to put your heel down. This is often more easily accomplished in a lesson/on the lunge line, so someone else is controlling the horse while you focus on your legs/ankles/balance.
You said you're getting somewhat regular lessons. You may wish to ask your instructor to help you make sure you're sitting properly. You should be able to draw a (n imaginary) vertical line from your shoulder to your hip to your ankle. If your ankle is too far forward or back then your weight will not be properly in the stirrup and you'll be more likely to lose your stirrup. Again, working without stirrups at all will help your leg position and make this easier :)
13th Aug 2002, 03:31 PM
I'm not cantering yet, so take this advice for what it's worth, but I've noticed my heels come up when I get tense, which makes for the kinds of problems you describe.
I've found that if I make sure my toes are relaxed, my heels correct themselves! Sounds crazy, I know, but you might give it a try. If you feel yourself tensing, consciously spread your toes in your boots and give them a little wiggle to relax them. In my case, this relaxes my calf muscles, and my heels come down! :)
26th Aug 2002, 06:57 PM
I found getting my knees further apart (and off the knee roll) allowed them to stretch down further and has reduced (but sadly still not eliminated) my problems with "mobile" stirrups. Also seems to depend a lot on the horse. 1 I ride is very lumpy, so I loose them all the time. Another is very smooth and they slipped 2x yesterday on a 4.5 hour hack!
26th Aug 2002, 07:46 PM
I used to use my stirrups all the time as I dragged my feet back to ask the horse to move on and I found riding shorter does help. I'm also very stiff through my hips which can cause you to lose your stirrups if they are longer as you don't wrap your legs around properly. As I have quite long legs I was always told to ride longer and it just doesn't work. Recently though I had the problem of feeling really frightened of losing my stirrups even when going very short legged and it isn't a good idea to force your heels down as you get problems with joints and pins and needles. As I hadn't had this problem before I decided the only way was to get a pair of boots which made my feet feel less likely to slip. This worked a treat and I don't lose my stirrups EVER and my lower leg position was much improved, I'm more relaxed as well.
27th Aug 2002, 04:51 AM
Do your stirrup irons have the rubber grips in them. These can sometimes help foot slipping problems, especially if you wear leather soled boots, as it gives them a bit of traction.
27th Aug 2002, 08:44 AM
This may not be relevant to you, but I noticed that in canter I would consistently lose/slip through my right stirrup. I've since discovered some problems with my left hip which cause me to collapse to that side somewhat, causing my right foot to slide loose.
31st Aug 2002, 10:17 PM
Also make sure you have boots that are good for riding. Some boots don't have good grip so they make your foot slip even if it is the right size! Just a thought:)
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