Leg position - toes in!

Walrus

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Ever since I was a child I have ridden with my toes turned out, there are pics of me at ever age with the flipping things sticking out. Now I focus on dressage and ride in a dressage saddle and the same thing still happens, to the point where the zips on the backs of my boots rub on the bottom edge of the saddle flap.

Any tips on how to improve my leg position. Force doesn't seem to help. I go to the gym etc and have been trying to build strength but I don't seem to be able to control my lower legs.

Considering stirrup options or simulator lessons etc. I have always walked with my toes out too so it's a very long standing habit but is now something that really needs fixing as we progress onwards.

Thanks

:)
 

Dowjones

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Often the problem with people who really point their toes out (me included!) is actually not from the foot at all, but starts from the hip, especially if the back of your boot is rubbing the saddle.

I get riders to tackle this by taking the feet out of the stirrups and doing an exercise where one at a time the leg is lifted away from the saddle, and then think about turning the direction of the knee from pointing outwards to pointing inwards, the slight rotation should be from the hip though. Then I get them to slowly place the leg back to position while maintaining the leg being "turned in" as it will feel to the rider. I do this several times and slowly with each leg at the start of each ride after loosing the legs and sometimes stop during a lesson and repeat.

It is important to remember though that everyone is built differently and some people just physically cannot point the toes properly forwards without compromising something else.
 

rachk89

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What dowjones said. Don't waste your money on 'miracle stirrups' because they won't work. It's all about repetition for dressage it will take ages to get yourself out of a lifelong habit but you can do it. Sort your whole leg out and I am sure your feet will be sorted. If not as Dowjones said it may be physically impossible for you.
 

Walrus

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Thanks guys, I was doing some reading last night and came to a similar conclusion. I know from being at the gym I am the least flexible person so I might look for some exercises to try and stretch everything, particularly the hips.

Sounds like no stirrups might be the way forwards, I feel a world of pain coming on!
 

LouisCat

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I will probably get shot down for this but I used to attach my stirrups to the girth with flash straps so I couldn't have too much movement in my legs/allow my toes to swing out! It was enough to help my muscles learn where my legs should be that when I took the straps off my leg position was a million times better
 

Tory27

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It also may be because your legs are too far forward and you’re putting too much pressure on to your knees / balls of your feet. When you sit in the saddle look down, if you can see your toes your feet are too far forward, bring you heels back behind you which should then automatically bring your toes in and straiten your lower leg. Try to imagine someone has attached a broom handle to the back of your heel to your hip to your shoulder to your ears so you are sitting bolt upright. We had this position drummed into us in pony club as kids...and will really help with your dressage position. See if you can get someone to video you riding so you can watch what your legs are doing and see if you can learn and correct it from there
 

eggs

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Something that helped me was to take my thigh away from the saddle and then take hold of it by taking my hand behind and underneath my leg and holding the long muscle on the inside of my thigh and pulling it slightly backwards (which rotated my hip enough) and then putting my thigh back against the saddle.
 

Under-the-radar

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I had this problem! For me, the problem was that I was not opening my hips correctly to allow my legs to drape down the side of the horse, which resulted in tension in the knee and ankle joints and the foot twisting out. Heather Moffatt has some helpful videos on opening the hips if you check out her Enlightened Equitation facebook page

Working on strength and flexibility in the hips as helped me hugely, as has working on my core strength. Some saddles will not aid you in sitting in a "correct" position, so will exacerbate the problem, but off horse core work helped me for sure :)
 

smja

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Have you ever done Pilates? You need to sit on the saddle with a neutral spine to allow your hips to open properly and your legs to hang with toes pointing forwards.
This is slightly different for everyone depending on their spine curvature/pelvis/hips.
 

Batgirl

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Also take into consideration the shape of your horse and saddle. The wider the horse and twist of the saddle the harder it can be to hang your legs straight.

Pilates, stretching and 90 degree stirrups help me but my horse is VERY wide and I will never get a fully straight position as the knees aren't made to go sideways!
 

Walrus

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Thanks all, will check out the Heather Moffett videos and look into some pilates exercises, think there will be a pilates instructor at the camp i'm going to in a few weeks so might quiz her too. I think nature isn't helping us as i'm 5'8" and the pony is a 13.1hh fell so we're not the ideal combination from a physics perspective but there is definitely room for improvement! :)
 

soulfull

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I have this problem with my bad leg. It starts off in the hip a little then gets worse as it goes down
the cure for me was to turn the thigh like tfh good old days, not to have my thigh too vertical and to imagine my knee is a headlight and to try and shine it over the horse opposite ear.
I've also found that the hip joint on that side is TOO loose so doing exercises to strengthen it
 

Pilatesclare

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It's most likely stemming from tight hips which can be improved with the right exercises. Pilates would definitely help but go to someone who can give you exercises specifically for you rather than Google some. It's important with Pilates that the technique is correct so you get maximum benefit and avoid problems!
 
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