Hello! My name is Jennifer and I have been riding for two years. I take riding lessons each week and I started to notice that my right toe is pointing out at a ninety degree angle. However, this only happens when I trot and canter. I have tried to push my toe forward at the walk but as soon as I pick up a posting trot, it goes right back. How can I keep my toe forward?

Story originally posted by: Maggie FlowersHorseCity.com Training Director

Hello Jennifer,

As a rider beginner, your instructor should have been paying close attention to this toe placement problem. If she or he has not noticed it, then I would certainly question them about it. Not having your toe placement correct means that your entire seat position is incorrect. This can not only cause you eventual discomfort especially at the knee, but most drastically affect your riding ability and the correct movements of your horse.

In executing the trot and canter, a beginner rider will subconsciously “grip” the horse with the entire leg causing the toe to pitch out. If you are right handed,for example, it is natural that the right leg, being stronger, will grip more. This is turn will cause the aliment of the hip to toe position to be compromised. With this position the hands then subconsciously play in, slightly pulling more on the right rein. (Note your horse’s headset when this occurs.)

However, I might add that sometimes there are human physical limitations that can cause this pitch out to occur.For example: a person with a slight case of Scoliosis (curvature of the spine) will find it difficult to maintain that invisible straight line north to south, if their seat bones aren’t capable of achieving a balanced evenly pressured seat. In these cases other compensations must be implemented.

To help you have a better, balanced, confident seat and insure proper seat bone position, I suggest you often ride bareback. More often than not, most instructors start their pupils off in the saddle. It has been my experience and professional training habit to start my students out riding bareback to help establish balance, correct use of leg grip, and maintaining seat position while enhancing their riding confidence. After the student has displayed all of these points and can safely and properly execute all the maneuvers required by horse and rider, then and only then do I put them in the saddle. By that time all the correct body positions are embedded into their muscle memory. I have also found that when a student has confidence, no fear of falling, they are more relaxed and tension free. Where there is no tension, there exists a great riding machine. Good luck!

Maggie Flowers