Many showjumpers face a common problem: a swiveling lower leg when jumping. This can be annoying for the rider as well as the horse, and this is a problem that only gets worse as the height of the fences increases. Even experienced riders can face this problem, so not to worry, you are not alone.
In this article, we will look at how you can learn to keep your leg still when jumping. Be prepared: it's not easy and will require a lot of work. However, with patience an consistent practice, you will be able to improve.
Why is it essential to keep the leg still?
Your horse listens to everything you do on the saddle, and can feel little things that you might not even pay attention to. A constantly moving and swiveling lower leg can irritate the horse's skin (especially if you clip your horse), but it can also make your horse "numb" to your leg.
Meaning, that the horse learns to ignore the constant movement of your leg and then won't pay attention to it when you actually need him/her to.
This can easily be seen in riding school horses, for instance. When kids learn to ride ponies, the ponies often drag their feet and dillydally on, not caring about those tiny legs kicking their sides, trying to get them to move faster. This is because the pony is most likely ignoring the constant movement.
In addition to all this, a swiveling leg when jumping can also lead to losing your stirrups during a showjumping course. This can be dangerous and pose a risk of an injury.
What makes your leg move?
If you also have noticed that your leg moves back and forth when you are completing a showjumping course, you might have wondered what the reason for this is.
Many things can cause your leg to move back and forth, and we have listed some of them below:
- Stirrup leathers too long
- Leg is tense
- Squeezing the saddle with knees
- Rider's balance needs work
Below, we will look at how you can correct these issues.
Stirrup leathers too long
One of the most common causes for swinging leg are too long stirrup leathers. This is a very easy fix: simply shorten them by a hole or two. For showjumping, a good length of stirrup leathers is from the tip of your fingers to your arm pit.
Here's how you measure it: put your fingers on top of the stirrup buckle. Pull the stirrup down to your armpit.
Leg is tense
If your leg is too tense, your heel will come up and this will make your leg swing. There is also a good chance you will lose your stirrup, too.
Practice riding without stirrups on a lunge line or hacking in order to relax your leg from the hip all the way down. If you ride even 20-30 minutes without your stirrups and then put them back on, you will instantly notice how your leg got a couple of inches longer. The stirrups might even feel too short after this!
Squeezing the saddle with your knees
This point goes hand in hand with the previous one. If your leg is tense or you squeeze the saddle with your knees, your heels will come up and it's easy to try and find your balance by holding onto the saddle with your knees.
This is a problem that can be fixed by learning to relax your leg. Again, you can take your stirrups off and ride without them to relax your legs and to sit deeper in the saddle.
Also, one excellent way to learn to relax your legs is to take some dressage lessons.
Rider's balance needs work
If the rider's balance needs work, he or she might be squeezing the saddle with their legs or knees, they might be leaning forward, or they might be trying to get support by leaning onto the horse's neck mid-jump.
Simply by improving your balance on and off saddle, you will start to feel more confident in relaxing your legs and feet into the stirrups and finding your balance there.
You can practice your balance by riding without stirrup, riding in a lunge line, or doing balance exercises at home.
In the video below, you will see some good exercises that will help you to balance your seat while riding.
Magnetic safety stirrups can prevent you from losing your stirrups
If you easily lose your stirrups when you ride, especially jump, you might want to consider magnetic safety stirrups. Ophena S and Ophena S Pro are our magnetic safety stirrup models that have received over 1,500 five-star stirrup reviews.
As the magnetic connection in the stirrups pulls towards your magnetic insoles in your boots, your foot will be placed on the right spot. The strong magnetic connection will keep your foot in place, and you will feel more confident and secure in the saddle.
Many of our customers have reported that it's easier to keep their magnetic safety stirrups on and should they lose their stirrups, the magnet starts to pull towards its counterpart and it'll be easier for the rider to find their stirrups again.
Here's how it works:
Want to order yours?
If you want to order your own magnetic safety stirrups, you can do that at Ophena.com.
Here's how you order your safety stirrups:
- Choose your stirrup model (Ophena S or Ophena S Pro)
- Choose the size of your magnetic insoles
- Choose the color
- Fill in your details
Your stirrups will also have a 60-day money-back guarantee. This makes the stirrups even a great option for a present or a gift. Don't forget to check out our saddle pads and gift cards.
If you have any questions, don't hesitate to get in touch with us.