Friday, September 4, 2015

Right Leg Gone Wrong

I've had some super rides on Mo this week, and I think we are very close to leveling up in his flatwork. Mostly, I just have to be on top of my timing with the aids and he gives up the head tossing and moves off my leg. He also had quite a productive jump school, about 2'6", with angled jumps and bending lines. Horse jumps right over the liverpool and he's getting much braver about the rocks.

But lesson recaps with no relevant media are gonna get boring, I think. So I want to focus on the biggest weakness in my riding and see what input I can get from you cool folks.

The bottom line is, my right leg is kind of out of control right now. It shoots out forward unless I really think about it. It does this in both saddles, but more in the dressage saddle than the jump saddle. It's not all the time, but it's often enough that it's bugging me, and I expect this has something to do with why Mo takes more offense to my right leg than my left. My left leg is fine. My legs aren't symmetrical anyway, thanks to the massive ankle break I had a few years ago. That ankle is mostly hardware at this point and my left leg just looks bigger than my right as a consequence. So that could be part of it, but I'm not totally convinced that's it.

Let's travel through time, shall we? See where we are.

Lex's fifth ride, spring 2013
Here everything looks fine, leg-wise. It's the top of the post but I was able to be secure because my leg was under me. And yes, those are loose horses nearby. Same 40-acre field. With a rogue mare (she was on the gate list and the paddock list at Mountaineer) who'd stood in a field for years and then I got on her. She was pretty perfect until her head started to hurt, you guys.

Sales horse, summer 2013

Same horse
Again, we're okay here. So maybe my right leg issues hadn't shown up yet?

Such a nice mare this was. Summer 2013.
 Still okay, maybe I'm holding on with my knees a bit too much here.

Pics like this haunt me now that I know she was brewing bursitis.
Fall 2013
 My position in the above picture looks weird to me, probably because I didn't know how to ride a barely-broke horse who wanted to trot with her nose on the ground.

Looks like it's creeping forward here. January 2014.



Tracy took this! Spring 2014.
 There it is. The creep that continues to plague me. I'll always remember this as one of the best rides I ever had on Lexi, and I'm so glad Tracy was there to see it.

Late spring 2014
 In the picture above I'm bracing against the iron a little, but it's not as bad as the previous picture.

Seneca showing me how little inside rein is necessary
 In the picture above my leg is a little bit back, I must have been asking him for something. Seneca is retired fully now, and I miss riding him so much.

Brian Ross clinic, March 2015
 My right leg is halfway to shooting here, I think. Also my shoulders are hunchy.

Spring 2015
 Soooo like sometimes having my right leg ahead of me isn't the worst?

Spring 2015
 HA! Feet on the dashboard! My left leg might have looked like this too but my body looks twisted (more on that in a moment) so I think it was probably where it belonged.  Don't you all just want to buy Mo based on this picture?

JUMP, July 2015
 So it does tend to stay where I put it in the air much of the time.

 But, see, there's this crookedness in my body that also shows up over fences. Let's back up to the frame before this.

I can't win Rolex if I have that jump form asleep in me somewhere. I mean, 2' hay bales. What the heck?

Yuck. Sorry, Red. Summer 2015
If my right leg wasn't out in front of me I would really like this picture.

So that's all the pictures I have that show my right leg doing anything interesting. Lay it on me: What do you think my problem is, and how should I fix it?


  1. I haven't got a clue how to fix it- I have the opposite problem. Thought, I've noticed my leg creepin' up on Penn when he gets into "turbo trot" mode and I'm almost 'water skiing' trying to keep up. In most of your creepin pictures, your seat is way in the back of the saddle (effectively making your stirrups longer). I don't know what to tell you for jump tack, but in your dressage tack you could try pulling your knee down to lengthen your thigh down and move your seat more to the low part of your saddle. It could just be your right leg only due to the crookedness you mentioned earlier- so check that your seat isn't twisted. And just pay attention to keeping your leg under you, that's what I really had to do to get my leg out from behind me.

  2. It looks life defensive riding, which totally makes sense on both Lex (I forgot how beautiful she was) and baby Mo. Severe back pain probably didn't improve it. You'll get it back.

  3. I twist my body the opposite way you do. I tend to weight my right stirrup more, have my left hip bone a little more forward, and then twist my body to the right a little. I have pictures of it on the blog, for sure. I haven't noticed any left leg creeping *forward* compared to my right, but what I tend to notice is my right leg creeping back. The first time I noticed a left leg creep was when I was riding a pony for my trainer the other day, and my left leg was practically ahead of the girth and I just could. not. control. the. pony. It was embarrassing.

    So my trainer hopped on her and was like "okay ride like this" and had me think about really sinking into my thigh bones instead of my heels. That brought both of my legs back and reduced some of my reliance on my right leg in the stirrup. I was much more even on the pony once I did this and could actually control her. Obviously control is not your problem, but perhaps thinking about weighting a different part of your body may help? Furthermore, weighting my thigh bones and thinking about "sinking" into my knees as if I were kneeling (but not pinching) brought both of my heels back to a more reasonable place.

    I strongly suspect the creeping leg in both of us is related to twisting our bodies. I am going to experiment with weighting my seat bones differently and maybe using some stickers on my body to see if my trainer can tell when I'm creeping more easily. We should discuss this further.

  4. I have a weird twist in my body too. I tend to twist left off of my right seat bone too, but I twist to the left and leave both legs out behind me. It was originally caused by Rico's crookedness, I caught it from him. It's not helped by a certain young horse who puts up with my terrible position because he doesn't know better.

    I'd try to get your right seat bone down and slightly forward, bring your left shoulder back, right shoulder down, and rotate your right leg into the saddle (like point toes forward). And I say that as someone who has been trying to do many of those things for the last five years and failing spectacularly at them! Position stuff is hard :/

    OH and check your hip flexor flexibility. If your left one is more flexible than your right, that could be it. When my hip flexors get tight, I tend to collapse in my hip angle by throwing my legs forward.

  5. Ugh I struggle w a delinquent right leg too. It gets the worst when I'm working really hard - making me suspect that is ultimately an issue of my body parts not being truly independent of each other. If I'm thinking about it it's ok... But generally I'm busy thinking about other things. So... Yea I'm usually all twisted too. Frustrating!