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Toe Angle

Correct Toe Angle for Your Leg to Be Effective on Your Horse

Submitted by member: Ahmed

I have a problem with my lower leg. I know that it has to be wrapped around the horse sides with the toes pointing forward, but the problem is that when I try to point my toes forward, my calves get away from horse sides and the contact is only with my knees.

My question is: what’s more important? To have the calves hugging the horse’s sides while my toes are not pointing forward, or pointing them forward and losing the contact between my calves and the horse’s sides? Is there any way I can obtain both at the same time?

🙂 Thank you in advance!

Answer by Bernie

Ahmed, the angle of ones toe in the stirrup is more or less determined by your conformation.  Seeing as many riders as I do each weekend in my clinics, I come across all sorts of toe angles. In general, most folks toe angles are between 10-30 degrees open. This I would say is normal. When I see an excessive open toe angle, say 45-60 degrees, the first thing I do is ask the rider to totally relax the ankle and see where it falls naturally. You can quickly determine whether they are conformed that way or training their toe out excessively. If they are conformed that way so be it. An excessive toe angle has the tendency to take the knee away from the saddle and put the hard part of the back of the calf always on the horse. In addition it’s more difficult to control the use of your spur with a toe turned out excessively.

You are under the belief that the toe has to be straight. This is not so. The toe should absolutely open to some degree or it will do just what you described. I just encountered a girl this weekend with a unusually straight toe which actually turned in, due to conformation.  Her ankle broke to the outside. She had a very hard time using her leg effectively!

The contact and strength of the calf is definitely decreased with a toe intentionally pointed “straight.” Let your toe be natural according to your conformation and you will find all the contact points of your leg will be in place.

Video Recommendation:

Building blocks to a great position on your horse

Building Blocks to a Great Position: Part 1
Bernie Traurig
In Part 1 of Building Blocks to a Great Position, Bernie Traurig starts with proper leg position as a basis for a solid foundation in the tack. With demonstrations by his daughter, Natasha, this video outlines exercises that enhance proper techniques.
Running Time:  19 minutes and 57 seconds

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Bernie Traurig

As a Horseman, Bernie is renowned for not only his riding talents but for his teaching and coaching gifts. As a competitor, Bernie has represented the United States Equestrian Team both at home and abroad on many occasions and reached the top of the sport in all 3 of the International Equestrian Olympic disciplines: Show Jumping, Dressage, and Eventing.After amassing 60 years worth of training and riding techniques and experiences with thousands of horses, Bernie is driven to give back to the sport that has given him so much fulfillment and success.

This Post Has 3 Comments
  1. I’m glad someone finally mentioned rider conformation playing a part in toe position. I was riding in a clinic and the clinician kept forcing my left foot forward and getting frustrated that it wouldn’t stay there – finally he had me hop down and realized that my leg from tibia down points towards the left while from the knee up it points in to the right drastically. He ended up admitting that the only way my toe would ever point straight and be in alignment with the rest of my leg is if they broke it first.

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