My legs seem to slide forward …

My name is Laura, I am 12 years old. When I get tired my legs seem to slide forward in the saddle during the canter.When I do this I pull against the reins. This irritates my horse and puts me into a battle with her. Do you have any suggestions on how to keep my legs in place?My name is Laura, I am 12 years old. When I get tired my legs seem to slide forward in the saddle during the canter.When I do this I pull against the reins. This irritates my horse and puts me into a battle with her. Do you have any suggestions on how to keep my legs in place?

Story originally posted by: Maggie FlowersHorseCity.com Training Director

My name is Laura, I am 12 years old. When I get tired my legs seem to slide forward in the saddle during the canter. When I do this I pull against the reins. This irritates my horse and puts me into a battle with her. Do you have any suggestions on how to keep my legs in place?

Laura

Hello Laura,

You need to read the recent article entitled "Your basic position." This will give you a perspective on your problem. The main reason why this is happening is not that your legs are tired, it’s your posture. Your posture can be affected by several things. For example: your general attitude, your level of concentration or your horse itself. Your attitude and level of concentration can be affected by the amount of rest you received the night before, amount of stress brought on by school or friends or home, your desire to be riding or being at the riding session, whether or not you’re feeling well, or even by what you’ve eaten. Virtually anything can affect your ability to maintain a positive seat.Your horse herself is a factor.She too has good and bad days.She too is susceptible to external and internal maladies that affect her performance, which in turn affect you. When you have the battle with her, she is just reacting to the wrong pressure cues you’re giving her.

When you’re a beginner rider and you begin the canter sessions, to confidently hold your seat and maintain even and equal leg pressure to continue your movement, your ability is lost. It’s lost because you have not developed good muscle strength in your lower back, thighs and upper calves to keep you balanced in the saddle. When cantering you subconsciously loose your confidence of balance and rhythm, so you clinch thelegs in an effort to maintain that balance and rhythm and not fall off. You tense your legs! Try tensing them without your instinct to point your toes…it can’t be done. By maintaining a "heels down" foot position, you not only hold the correct pressure, but your body mechanics take over and naturally makes the thighs and upper calves apply the balancing pressure. This in turn gives you the positive seat and basic position. Unfortunately, not all instructor or individuals start riding in proper form…bareback. This is the ultimate way to train the muscles to become active in a balanced, confident way. When the rider has learned all the movements by riding bareback, the transition to the saddle is easier and more comfortable because the muscles are already trained to the positive seat.

What will help you maintain the proper foot placement in the stirrup is to do as the article says…exercise those muscles to strength them and enhance muscle memory. All will be ‘OK’ just focus on your posture and clear your mind to all that affects it. One other thing…check to make sure that once you’re in a positive seat your stirrups are properly adjusted to help you in maintaining your foot position. Good luck!

Maggie Flowers