Do you find yourself gripping with your knees and/or inner thighs?
Gripping with the knees is something that many riders do in order to stay on – I mean if your legs don’t keep you on the horse and you are not supposed to hang on the reins then how do you stay on?! The problem with gripping with the knees or tightening the inner thighs is that when you do this it actually pushes your seat out of the saddle and tips you forward!
Here are some tips to improve your leg position:
The Knees – your knees should have light contact with the saddle. Your knees should not be flopping out of the saddle nor should they be pinching into the saddle.
The gluteus medius and the outer thigh muscles are what keep you in the saddle. Think of letting your legs hang over the horse like a wet washcloth.
Be sure that your toes are pointing forward. You must rotate your leg inward from the hip and get the toe pointing forward in order to activate the gluteus medius and the outer thigh muscles. If the toes are pointing out, you will have to grip with the inner thigh to stay on!
Sitting trot – Many riders grip with the knee in the sitting trot. Gripping with the knee will lock the hips and back, tip the rider forward, and the horse will stop going. Keeping the leg in position with the gluteus medius and the outer thigh will allow your hips and lower back to stay supple and moving with the horse!
Gripping with the knee also makes the lower leg ineffective. It causes the lower leg to swing and it is nearly impossible to apply and effective leg aid when gripping with the knee.