Lower Leg Position

How to Keep Weight in Your Stirrups and Contact With Your Horse’s Side

Featured Image Credit (CC): Janice Byer on Flickr

Submitted by member: Ahmed

I have a problem with my conformation, which causes lack of contact with the horse’s sides. Because I am very slim, when I focus on resting my feet on the stirrup, or even pushing my heels down, I almost don’t have contact between my thighs/calves and the saddle. And when I try to keep contact with the saddle (no squeezing) with my thighs and calves, and the weight in my stirrups, I lose my stirrups from time to time. I have the same issue even with making the stirrups shorter, and also on different saddles. Is there any trick that would help me keep both contact with the horse’s sides and also weight in my stirrups?

My trainer advised me to push my heels down and turn my toes in, but I feel that it is not comfortable. In addition to that, I feel that my calves go away from my horse’s sides and the only contact I have is with my knees.

Thank you!

Answer by Bernie

Your weight in the jumping sport should be evenly distributed down through your thigh, knee, and calf into a deep heel. The foot rests on the stirrup just under the ball, or slightly in front of the ball of the foot, depending on your ankle flexibility. The toes do not turn in but out slightly, depending on your conformation to keep the calf in contact with the saddle. The pressure should be evenly distributed between your thigh, knee, and calf.

One of the best exercises to develop this, is by practicing daily in the two-point exercise at the walk and trot.  Do this in short bursts and focus on proper form. When you get tired, rest rather than sacrifice your form.  You will find that five minutes of this practice daily (on and off) will greatly enhance your form, balance, and strength.

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If you liked this blog post, you may also like Bernie’s post: Correct Toe Angle for Your Leg to Be Effective on Your Horse

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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 55 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.

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