HRM - Do you wish you had longer legs?Aug 24, 2021
HRM - Do you wish you had longer legs?
Almost everyone who rides horses wishes they had longer legs.
But not all riders. Some riders wish they could ride smaller horses without looking like a camel riding a donkey.
But most riders would love to have longer legs.
Even though you cannot actually grow longer legs you can make the best of what you have.
Making the best of what you have can mean the difference between unplanned dismounts ('hitting the deck') and riding through a potential calamity like a boss. Maybe even while making some of your more spindly long-legged friends envious at the same time.
How to make the best of what you have...
1. Your stirrups need to be the correct length. This does not mean having them longer than they should be just to create the illusion of longer legs. It doesn't work like that. If your stirrups are too long then all sorts of things start to go wrong - sometimes badly wrong. Read this blog post about how to achieve the correct stirrup length - www.equiculture.net/blog/hrm-your-stirrup-length-what-is-just-right
2. You need to have the correct pressure on your stirrups. This is not something you will hear about very often. If you do not weight your stirrups correctly then your stirrups will clang around on your feet. Then you will start to grip with your knees. Then your legs will start to shrivel and curl up the sides of your horse like strips of orange peel left out in the sun.
If you are able to weight your stirrups correctly then your legs will always stay down the sides of your horse. Achieving this superpower initially means learning how to properly engage your lower legs.
3. So obviously, you need to learn how engage your lower legs. This is another one that you won't hear about very often. But it is probably the single most important thing you should learn about as a rider.
Having engaged lower legs means that you are more likely to stay on your horse when you are at a competition and a helicopter lands in the next field and your friends/peers are flying off like ping pong balls in a lottery machine. It means your legs are staying long (as long as possible), down the sides of your horse, where they are meant to be. Especially in a crisis. Priceless.
How do you do achieve all this at the same time?
After getting your stirrup length correct you practice, practice, practice.
By carrying out certain exercises that are designed to get you weighting your stirrups in the right way and engaging your lower legs properly you will learn how to keep your legs down each side of your horse. These exercises involve such activities as standing in your stirrups while keeping your centre of gravity low at the same time. In walk at first but working up to trotting. It is hard to do initially but boy is it effective.
Get yourself a neckstrap to hold on to and start by standing in your stirrups at a standstill. Let your heels drop just below your toes (but no more). Then work up to walking and eventually trotting. Take it easy, especially at first. Take frequent breaks. This exercise really stretches your calves but most importantly it gets you to weight those stirrups properly.
Eventually, you can keep your legs under you in almost any situation.
And your legs will look as long as possible. Who needs long legs when you can have effective, engaged legs?
How can you learn more?
Make sure you sign up for this HRM FREE 23 page PDF checklist 10 Common Position and Balance Checks for Riders. Start learning how to be the best rider you can be.
About the checklist:
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Have a look at the Horse Riders Mechanic Course and iron out all those rider biomechanic problems that can really hold you back.
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