Heels Down or Toes Up?

Photo by Markus Spiske on Pexels.com

By Real Riderz

Spoiler alert: both are potentially bad advice.

Now whoa there! Don’t start putting your heels up (or toes down). However, one thing we need to understand is that the heels aren’t everything.

I was at a hotel a few year ago packing, packing the car after a weekend of showing. One of the amateurs came up to me, and we started to discuss my rounds and my fall that weekend. One thing leads to another and the rider started to talk about keeping the toes up rather than heels down, because heels down puts you in the incorrect position. I started to think about this, this wasn’t the first time I had heard “toes up”.

So which is it? Is there really a right way to think about your foot? Well, toes up is more positive, and much more difficult to exaggerate. However, if your leg is not aligned in a straight line from ear to hip to heel, then none of the advice will help you (both the ammy and I were riding in chair seat, despite using different methods of foot placement). The foot is important yes, but we must look at our body alignment prior to resorting to either heels down or toes up.

Yet, when we thinking about our balance and where we want to absorb the impact of the jump, we want to think landing into the heels. This allows for the upper body to be ready for whatever is to come next after the jump (if your horse trips, you’ll be in a much more safe position). For flatwork purposes, the heel is down (or toe is up) because this makes the calves (lower leg) stronger, so that the horse feels your leg aids. One problem that can arise is gripping of the leg and desensitization to the leg aids because of gripping, but that is for a later article.

Published by realriderz

Many riders coming together to make our horses' (and our own) voices heard

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