As a horse rider do you wish you had longer legs?Aug 24, 2021
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 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
Your stirrups need to be the correct length when riding
This does not mean having them longer than they should be to create the illusion of longer legs. It doesn't work like that. If your stirrups are too long, then all sorts of things go wrong - sometimes severely 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
You need to have the correct pressure on your stirrups when riding
This is not something you will hear about very often. If you do not weight your stirrups correctly, your stirrups will rattle around on your feet. Then you will start to grip with your knees. Then your legs will begin to shrivel and curl up your horse's sides like strips of orange peel left out in the sun.
If you can weight your stirrups correctly, your legs will always stay down the sides of your horse. Achieving this superpower means learning how to engage your lower legs properly.
You need to learn to engage your lower legs when riding
This is another point that you won't hear about very often. But it is probably the most critical 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 intended to be. Especially in a crisis. Priceless.
How do you achieve all this at the same time?
After getting your stirrup length correct, you practice, practice, practice.
By carrying out specific exercises designed to get you weighting your stirrups correctly 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.
Take it easy, especially at first. 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 frequent breaks. This exercise 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.
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