Monday, July 9, 2012

Debbie Sams: Heels Up

Part 11 in the “Deep Seat” series

Heels Up

When your heels are up, you are in diving position. Unless you are in the lake, I do not recommend diving off your horse. It has been known to be hazardous to your health.
This is the most common rider fault. Unfortunately, human anatomy does not take the heels-down position naturally. In other words, it is not a position that we normally assume in our daily lives. When your heels are up, the shock absorbers (they include the hip, knee, and ankle joints) of the leg are locked and cannot absorb shock. This throws you out of the saddle and causes bouncing, which is the ultimate no-no — it is painful for both horse and rider (Illus. 34). One exception, though, is vaulting. While vaulting, the rider does not use stirrups and is required to point her toes down.
Illus. 34

Imagine touching ground with your heels — Thinking about dragging the heels in the dirt is often helpful in lowering them.
Weighted heel — Feel your heels get heavy without force. Thinking about having a weight in your heel helps to achieve this (Illus. 23).
Illus. 23
Point toes to the stars — Thinking about pointing the toes to the sky often is useful as well.
Heels in stirrups exercise — Take your feet out of the stirrups. Next, place your heel in front of the stirrup and in the stirrup. Be sure not to put them so far in that the heel of the boot is caught on the stirrup (Illus. 33A & B).
Illus. 33A and 33B

Read Part 1 (Sticking to Your Horse with a Deep Seat) in the "Deep Seat" series
Read Part 2 (Deep Seat versus Light Seat) in the "Deep Seat" series
Read Part 3 (Deep Seat Problem and Solution) in the "Deep Seat" series
Read Part 4 (Arched Back — Problems and Solutions) in the "Deep Seat" series
Read Part 5 (Torso Leaning Forward — Collapsed Chest) in the "Deep Seat" series
Read Part 6 (Rounded Shoulders, Collapsed Chest) in the "Deep Seat" series
Read Part 7 (Knees and Heels Creeping Up) in the "Deep Seat" series
Read Part 8 (Toes and Knees Turned Out) in the "Deep Seat" series
Read Part 9 (Gripping with Knees) in the "Deep Seat" series
Read Part 10 (Behind the Motion) in the "Deep Seat" series

Debbie Sams teaches English and Western riding with an emphasis on dressage. At her Springer's Stables in Broadalbin, New York, she also teaches drill team and vaulting. Her farm gives pony parties and holds horse camps for scouts and local community college and elementary school youth programs, as well as for the Sacandaga Bible Conference and Retreat Center. Debbie has been teaching drama and drill team on horseback since 1979; in 1985 she became a Certified Horsemanship Association Instructor. She is the author of 101 Drill Team Exercises and has also put her horse knowledge to work in writing for such publications as Practical Horseman, Equus, and the Northeast Horseman’s Journal.

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