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Stirup question
#1
I have been asking so many questions but I am saving for a new saddle and I want to make sure I am getting the right thing. I am looking for a deep seat saddle, maybe a barrel. Currently I don't know my saddle brand but I have an Arabian mare that is between 15 and 15.1 hands. The seat is 15" stretching it which I think is small for me and I asked my trainer and she agreed. I am 5'5 and weigh 150 lbs give or take, ok give, a pound.

I have a stirup problem. When I raise my stirups I bounce all over in the sitting trot which everyone says most likely my stirups are too short so I lowered them to measure an arms lenght from the stirup to wear it attaches to the saddle but when I sit in it and try to keep my heel lined up with my hip and ear my ankles roll outward and twist, my foot pretty much rolls to the outside and it feels sooo uncomfortable [V]! The only way I can get relief is to put weight on the stirups and push forward.

Does anyone know of any stirup adjustments that I need to make or look for when I buy a new one?
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#2
What you might want to try is this: Saddle your horse and put the stirrups where you know they are close to the proper length. Mount up and let your legs hang loose and relaxed without putting them in the stirrups. Now, you should be able to raise just your toes so they are a wee bit higher than your heels and slip them into your stirrups so the ball of your foot is resting in the stirrup. If you have to reach too high with your toes, the stirrups are too short. If you're reaching with your toes for the stirrups, then they're too long. Good luck[Smile].
"God forbid that I should go to any heaven in which there are no horses"
--Robert Browning

Don't walk in front of me, I may not follow. Don't walk behind me, I may not lead. Just walk beside me and be my friend.
-- Author Unknown
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#3
I will try that out this afternoon and have my hubby out there and mark where they fall so I can adjust it. I did lower them last night, I actually put the saddle on the arm of my couch since it is pretty big and fits on there well and tried that but my ankle rolls so badly when they are lower but I will see how it fits when I am on her. Oh I also got her a French linke snaffle bit to try on her that should be here today.
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#4
Another method which you might try is to somply adjust the length until you have two finger widths distance between your crotch and the seat of your saddle when you are standing up straight. As you gain experience, you may wish to change this slightly, depending on the activity you are engaged in. Less clearance does not give you room to move and balance, and more clearance has you standing "on top" of your horse and preventing good balance, making you flp around like a sack of potatoes, and will absolutely kill your knees and ankles. By the way, this measurement must be made on a horse, as that is the only thing that will have the same measurements. Sometimes in the case of extremes in horse conformation (very skinny versus corn fed) you may have to adjust your sirrups a hole. The arms length rule seems good and will work for the mojority of folks, but the next time you are with a lot of people and have time to observe, look at the differences in arm length versus leg length; it is absolutely amazing! Good luck
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#5
Actually I know just what Breezed is talking about, but for me it mostly is my left ankle that's the problem; with longer stirrup lengths, the effort to keep my toes in ends up making my "weight" roll to the outside edge of my foot and turning my ankle inward. Not comfy. With shorter stirrups, the stirrup bottom "pushes" against the bottom of my foot to keep it level (but of course then there's the bouncing problem). I always figured I needed to strengthen that ankle or stretch it or something, and it has gradually improved, but if anyone else can shed some light on this I'd appreciate it. And Breezed, I'll pay more attention to this when I ride tomorrow and see if I can't figure out more of what's going on.

'plash
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#6
'plash and OTW

Are we talking English or western? English leathers do stretch over time and that can make them uneven. There are many types of stirrups out there and some are made to fix human conformation problems. Maybe just a change in stirrups would help.
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#7
Stormie - on me it happens with either English or Western stirrups.

After talking with my trainer about it, I'm more convinced now that it's a muscle learning thing, not a tack thing. The tip that he had to pass on to Breezed is that she is probably trying too hard to push down into the stirrups, something that I am working on fixing as well. Most of her weight should be on the saddle, not on the stirrups, and that will take some of the pressure off her ankles. As well, he said she should think not so much of pushing her heels downward as pulling her toes upward -- all of her toes, not just her big toe. This will probably pull on some odd muscles in her lower leg at first, but as they strengthen and stretch it should get better. I can say that it is getting better for me the more I work on it. Another result of this is that with her weight in her seat, she will be more "on rhythm" with the horse and that will also help with the bouncing problem in a sitting trot. (Ask me how I know this stuff --- it's what I'm working on too! [Big Grin] My trainer's been calling this stuff out to me from the center of the ring for a while now...)

'plash
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#8
I agree that most of these problems are muscle caused but there are some people that just aren't built right or have had injuries that limit them. Until my hip was healed I had to ride with one stirrup shorter then the other. So keep in mind that if you work and work at it and still have a problem it might not be a fixible problem but there are aids out there that can help. I hate to see people get turned off to riding because of things like this.
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#9
Something else to consider when it comes to the bouncing problem is not to grip too tightly with your thighs. If you do, it'll pinch you right out of the saddle and raise you away from the saddle and your horse. This puts your "center"(located in your body and usually behind your belly button) farther away from the horse and puts you off balance, resulting in a very bouncey trot. If the thighs are relaxed just enough, your seat bones will drop right on top of the horse, and you will bounce less.
NOTE: This doesn't work very well unless you can keep all of your upper body directly over your legs and feet. Position is the key to make this work. Lean too far back or too far forward, and it won't work[Wink].

I don't know if this is the problem, but here's an exercise you can do to help lengthen your leg muscles to keep your toes up and your heels down: Stand on a step with a hand rail within reach. Face toward the step and then place the balls of your feet on the edge of the step with your heels hanging over open air. Hang onto the hand rail and let your heels drop for a few, short seconds and then raise them back up. Do this for maybe 5 minutes or so a couple of times a day, and your muslces will lengthen and allow you to drop your heels more easily in the stirrups[Smile].
"God forbid that I should go to any heaven in which there are no horses"
--Robert Browning

Don't walk in front of me, I may not follow. Don't walk behind me, I may not lead. Just walk beside me and be my friend.
-- Author Unknown
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#10
Hi, I was reading your messages on stirrup length. I was at a Parelli clinic last year and their rule of thumb for both western and english stirrup lengths is the same. While sitting in the saddle, take your feet out of the stirrups and let your legs hang loosely. To determine proper length the bottom of your stirrup should be even with your ankle bone. If the bottom of your stirrup is lower than your ankle bone then your stirrups are too long and vice versa if higher than your ankle bone. Recently I decided to shorten my stirrups by half a hole length. I ride western. It took about 6 to 8 rides to get comfortable at this new length as I felt like they were too short and felt more pressure in my knees & hips as a result but now I can't believe the difference. I am so much more balanced and in sync with my horse and when something does go wrong as in spooking and making a quick turn or similar movement I hardly ever lose my stirrup(s) anymore. I used to always lose at least one, the ankle that I sprained about 6 times in the past playing baseball and racquetball. I cannot believe the difference. I wish I had done this several years ago. AND, even though I felt like they were too short when I first made the change, recently this past week-end when I was watching some barrel racing while sitting on my horse, someone commented that my stirrups looked a little long....go figure! So although it might feel really awkward at first give it a half dozen good rides and see and feel the difference.
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