Carrying proper weight in your heels is the foundation to a secure seat when riding, but many riders struggle with getting their heels down deeply enough. If you’d like to be able to drop your heels down further while in the saddle, we’ve got some great exercises you can try.
Check for Proper Leg Alignment and Stirrup Length
If you’re riding with an improper leg position, dropping your heels down will be difficult. Have a friend or trainer watch you as you ride to be sure that your ankle, hip, shoulder, and ear are all in line, and that you’re riding with the stirrup on the ball of your foot.
You will also want to make sure that you are riding with your stirrups at a proper length. Riding with stirrups that are too long will make it next to impossible to drop weight into your heels. Stirrups that are too short will cramp your legs and can force you into an unnatural, unbalanced position. When you take your feet out of the stirrups and drop your legs freely down your horse’s sides, the bottom of your stirrup should be about even with your ankle joint.
Focus on Toes Up
Sometimes we get so focused on dropping our heels down that the motion gets stiff and tiresome. Instead of drilling yourself on dropping your heels down, try thinking about bringing your toes up instead. Focusing on bringing your toes up can reduce the strain and tightness that you may feel when trying to drop your heels.
Ride Around the Horse
Visualization is a powerful tool when it comes to riding. Try thinking about riding “around the horse” – dropping your legs so that they encircle your horse’s sides. This visualization exercise can help you to lengthen and relax your lower leg, which will make it easier to drop weight into your heels and maintain a proper leg position.
Stand on Stairs
You may already be familiar with this exercise, but it’s a good one and bears repeating. When you’re not riding, you can work on stretching your lower legs and dropping your heels by standing with the ball of your foot on the edge of a stair and gradually sinking your weight into your heels as you drop them down. Be sure to hold onto a railing for balance whenever you do this exercise.
Stand in the Stirrups
When you’re in the saddle and your horse has warmed up, stand up in the stirrups as your horse walks around the ring. Focus on maintaining proper leg position and sinking your heels down as you drop your weight into them. Hold this position for as long as possible, then gradually lower yourself into the saddle while leaving your legs and heels in their current position. This exercise is a great way to reset and remind yourself of good leg and heel position during the ride.
It can take some time and work to get your heels down, but once you do you’ll be a stronger and more secure rider because of it.
Image Source: flickr.com/photos/nikkis_pikkis/369623738
Original Source: Heels Down: Tips to Help