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How to lower the heel down?

From the first day in the saddle, the rider is told “hold your heels down,” and from that moment on, the rider painfully tries to keep his heels down and presses them with force below the stirrup. Is this right, and why do we need to keep the heels down?

Heel Down:

– Increases the contact area of ​​the leg with the horse, which improves the impact of controls.

– Focuses the weight of the rider in the lower body. The heel lowered down serves as a support for finding the necessary balance in the saddle when the horse moves.

– Prevents slipping of the foot through the stirrup.

– Demonstrates flexibility and, therefore, the ability to perform the functions of a shock absorber.

It is safe. A properly distributed balance in the saddle is the rider’s best assistant in emergency situations.

“Heel down” sounds easy, but for many it’s a difficult task.

If you feel that during the ride the heel “climbs up” all the time, then make sure of two things:

– Do you understand the term “schenkel” correctly.

– Is your ankle joint elastic enough and how developed are the muscles of the leg.

Let’s figure it out in order.

Schenkel (Leg aids) – one of the natural controls of the rider. The place of contact of the inner part of the leg from the knee and below (the lower leg muscles in the photo) with the horse’s body is the schenkel.

Schenkel pressure requires the horse to move forward and energy.

Holding the shankel on the side of the horse indicates the preservation of movement.

Schenkel pressure on one side requires the horse to bend or sideways.

From this we understand that the heel is not a “shankel”, which means that we do not need to constantly use it and lift it up, digging into the horse’s side at every pace.

It’s important to know.

I want to draw attention to the fact that the spur, located in the ankle joint, is an additional means of control and does not replace the shankel! Even if the rider has a spur on his leg, it must be selected in such a way that the rider can easily apply it at the right time and return the leg to the correct position – “heel down”.

If the heel continues to “creep” up and it’s hard for you to physically lower it down, then make sure that the ankle joint is not blocked and elastic enough.

Cramps during the ride and pain in the ankle joint indicate inadequate physical fitness and tightness.

Correct foot work
It is not necessary to constantly push the heel down with an effort. The Achilles tendon should stretch freely and elasticly, and then contract naturally to work properly and efficiently without interfering with the horse’s movement. Each horse movement is cushioned, placing the rider deeper in the saddle.

It is the elastic ankle joint that contributes to a deep landing while jumping or riding in dressage movements, and also helps to sit in the saddle with great balance, move with the horse, work properly and freely with the schenkel.

Two of the most effective exercises for the development of the muscles of the leg and the development of elasticity of the Achilles tendon.
What you need to do before starting the exercises.

As always before training, before you begin to perform exercises on the calf muscles, you need to warm these muscles. Self-massage will help in this, since there is no difficulty in massaging this area on your own. It is also necessary to stretch the joints of the ankles and fingers. This will help to avoid stretching during classes.

1. Exercise with a step platform

If there is no platform, you can perform these exercises on a step.

Starting position

Stand with your socks on the edge of the platform or on the step. Keep your back straight.

Execution technique

Get on tiptoe as high as possible. Lower your heels as much as possible, significantly stretching the ankle. You can take a dumbbell in your hand, with your other hand resting on the wall.


Alternate the position of the legs, holding the feet in parallel, then moving the heels or spreading the socks. This will help to work out different parts of the calf muscle. In the parallel position of the feet, the middle part is worked out, with the shifted heels the inner surface of the muscle. If the socks are shifted, then the main load falls on the outer surface.

2. We rest against the wall with the foot and tighten the body

The exercise is conveniently performed on the street at a pillar, tree or near the Swedish wall.

Starting position

Raise the sock, pressing it to the post and resting his heel on the ground.

Execution technique

Slowly pull the body closer to the pillar (wall).

It can be performed immediately on two legs if the surface allows emphasis. You should feel a stretch in the calf muscle and Achilles tendon.

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