Do you ride with your heels down

Discussion in 'Horse Chat' started by Chester, Aug 11, 2016.

  1. Chester

    Chester Senior Member

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    Watching the olympics the other night I noticed that the best riders had their heels 'down' but not jammed down.

    I often see people on the forums telling people they need their heels down like this.
    [​IMG]

    Whereas the best riders had their heels pretty much flat with the heel just below the stirrup.
    [​IMG]

    The second pic is the way I have always taught to ride.

    How do you ride? Which is correct? Why?
     
  2. Martini!

    Martini! Senior Member

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    I'm sure some countries have different styles, but honestly I think in some cases that's just because it's hard to maintain your form when the jumps are that challenging. If you see pictures of grand prix jumpers, some of their form over the bigger jumps is not perfect (leg slipped back, heels up, etc) but they don't ride like that all the time. If you start with nice form and jump that challenging of a course, it's probably darn near impossible to maintain it.

    I think about it like this, if you start with heels down and lose a little of it, your heels are still level and decently balanced. If you start with heels level and lose a little bit, you end up with heels up and an insecure stirrup. So to me, the goal of having them a bit lower than is maybe necessary isn't a bad idea to account for the impossibility of always keeping them exactly where you started! :)
     
  3. equinitis

    equinitis Senior Member

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    I was taught the 2nd way as well. I try not to jam my heels down, it is uncomfortable and not helpful!
     
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  4. Chester

    Chester Senior Member

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    I think that if your heel is jammed down you have transferred the weight to the heel and it isn't balanced, takes away weight from the stirrup and makes it harder to maintain your 'hold' on the stirrup.

    This is a german rider at the olympics. He has slipped his leg back but he still has his foot firmly on the stirrup. If he had started with his heel jammed down I think he would have been at risk of losing it.

    [​IMG]

    Whilst I can find many many pics of riders with 'flat' heels I can't find any of top riders with their heels jammed down. Can you provide some? :)
     
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  5. prairiesongks

    prairiesongks Senior Member

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    I also was taught heels down below the stirrup, but not jammed down. I can't imagine trying to stay balanced over big fences with your heel jammed down like the first picture since you have to be flexible and move in synch with the horse.
     
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  6. Martini!

    Martini! Senior Member

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    Margie Goldstein-Engle has her heels down on the flat, but they level out a bit over fences.

    [​IMG]

    So does McClain Ward

    [​IMG]

    And Ian Millar

    [​IMG]


    Those were just the first few riders that came to mind, I am time constricted or I would have looked up the actual olympic riders currently. I am not really following your explanation why you wouldn't be able to keep your stirrup if your weight was down in your heel, I have never had an issue losing stirrups and I ride with my heels quite far down....like this.

    [​IMG]
     
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  7. bellalou

    bellalou Senior Member

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    I was taught to let your leg get long and hang, and the heels would go down naturally. Jamming them down just tightens the whole leg.
     
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  8. sorrell

    sorrell Senior Member

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    At the 1978 World championships in Ky we had a really close view and also noticed a lot of European and South American riders rode heels up and dug their spurs in the horses... one reason there for heels down. Some of heels up comes from riding with longer stirrups and reaching to keep your foot inm especially in dressage where a long leg is desireable..
    In 2013 I took a dressage lesson with a very skilled instructor who did not recommend heels down and said it was incorrect. He was American. His reasoning was that it stiffened the leg and put it in an artificial position.
    My take on it is as most above. A lowered heel anchors your foot and leg in position, but does not lock it in place. it also allows the calf muscle to work better to absorb shock and keep the foot and lower leg from bouncing off the horse or gripping.
    I have never seen a heels down rider lose their stirrup over fences but have seen 100s of heel up riders not only lose the stirrup but their balance and tilt forward or off the horse entirely, so still a fan of heels down, just not jammed down artificially. Some riders cannot get their heels down and others almost touch their toes to their shins and are still flexible, so a lot depends on the rider as well.
     
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  9. emali06

    emali06 Senior Member

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    I have never seen anyone suggest that the "jammed" position is best.
     
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  10. Orlandotrails

    Orlandotrails Senior Member

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    I've always been taught the second way. Stretch into it, but don't strain into it.
     
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