NO HEELS DOWN – YUP its flat feet for flat work

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Many people have been screamed at in their lessons heels down and I have been on the receiving end. But, have you ever wondered is it doing your riding any good?


Heels down is well a tradition, a really old one at that but in my opinion an outdated one. Hey, now don’t shoot the messenger everyone has a different opinion and that’s totally cool but just listen and see if I can convert you. Do you know where the saying came from? Plus do you actually know why your instructor says that to you and “ it makes your lower leg stable” is not good enough. Ask why, they ask why again.

Heels down mean when you fall off the horse your foot is more likely to fall out the stirrup – EPIC safety feature.

Heels down means you are braced and can not go over the front of the horse – EPIC safety feature especially if they are trying to kill you


Flat feet for flat work

Yup that’s my rhyme its flat feet for flat work. For your oh shit scenarios you can do whatever ever you like with your feet, as long as you stay on the horse. I like you in one piece as much as you like yourself in one piece so do whatever ever you need to do. However, generally pushing your heel down swings your leg forward. How are you meant to stand in the saddle when your foundations, ie your feet are not underneath you the builders daughter in me will tell you that building collapses.

  1. You push your heel down
  2. Leg swings forward
  3. OH NO my leg has swung forward I must pull it back
  4. Grips with knee to try and hold foot still
  5. Generally foot swings about everywhere, but its ok because your heel is down?


You foot is a swing

If you push the kids on a swing from behind their legs go flying forward and the body comes flying back. Switch that to riding and if your lower leg goes flying forward you land on your butt hard.

If you push the kids from the front, the body comes flying forwards and the legs go flying backwards. Image the days when you use to play on a swing or better yet go try it out. Switch this to our riding and your leg goes backwards and you come forward.


Keeping our balance – false

When we loose our balance by one of the two methods above generally oh shit alarms go of in your head and you grip because well oh shit I don’t feel safe anymore. This is where the biggest problem  hides, because your heel is down leg is swung forward, you have gripped with the knee you are know holding onto your horses sides. How can they more feely?


Keeping our balance – True

The lower leg will not move if all the weight is on it ( like a paperweight) and that paperweight is in the middle. Remember when I said your foot is like a swing? So if your leg has gone forward generally we know your knee is gripping and your heel is down. The correction is to push your toe down just enough so the foot becomes level and to release the pressure of the knee and into the stirrup so it can stay there.


Have a play with the idea. See what you think and remember the two key phrases.

Its flat feet for flat work
Your foot is a swing.


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