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Readers Write: Heels Down

Members of the EquiSearch Discussion Forums share their suggestions for learning to keep the heels down over jumps.

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Riding Questions

"I'm having a bad time of trying to get my heels down (and legs underneath me) while jumping. Any suggestions?" --
LizO'Leary

"Practice trotting in your two-point without stirrups. Don't take any fences, just during your flat work. Trot as long as you're comfortable, maybe half way around the arena. Then pick up your stirrups, rest a while a try it again. Also, slow sitting trot without stirrups helps strengthen your seat and legs." -- Britehorse

"To do this excercise you need a kind willing horse who does not stop easily. It is: jumping without your reins. Set up a small x-rail. Trot in, and as you approach to within 2-3 stride of the fence, drop the reins on the neck and hold your arms straight out to the side. Look up and over the jump, and keep your leg on so your horse knows to jump. You will find that you "follow" the motion better and keep your leg under you more. To work up to this, you might have your instructor lunge you & practice with your hands out to the side in 2 pt." -- Remari1

"While in 2 point, stand straight up on your toes then drop into your heels and let your knees relax. Do this a few times to find your balance over your stirrups. Then extend your hands about half way up your horse's neck and let your elbows drop along side the neck while your body follows with a straight back--bend from hips. Check to see that your heels and calves stay in position and your seat does not push backward. You should be bending over the front of the saddle. Your knees should not be stiff. (Don't lay on the horse's neck.) Then recover to your 2 point while bringing your hands back into position as well. This will help strengthen your back for bending and recovering and let your legs hold their position. Loss of balance with the upper body is often the problem with heels that rise when jumping. Try this exercise with your hands behind your back as well." -- Lady Horse 7

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