Dressage Rider Leg Position - It's All In the Hips



We've all seen those riders who sit so effortlessly in the saddle... our Olympic idols who instinctively move with their horse and whose bodies follow their mount's every footfall with grace and beauty.


"How can I sit like that?" "How do I get my leg to look like that?"


Let me tell you a little secret...



Well, it's all in how the leg HANGS from the hips.


Wait... What does that even mean???


Think about your favorite rider - the dressage rider you totally idolize...


Charlotte, Steffen, Carl, Helen, etc... (I can go on and on with my list of favorites! If you don't have your own list yet, get on YouTube and watch and come up with your own list! But, hey, that's another subject for another post...)


Look at how they sit... They all have a way to sit INTO the horse rather than ON TOP of the horse. How do they do that? Well... It's all about how the leg hangs from the hip!


The difference between this -


The leg is rotated out from the hip flexor. The inner thigh and knee are not in contact with the saddle. The toe points out and way from the horse. The heel and, consequently, the spur are in and on the horse.

And this -


Here, the leg rotates in from the hip flexor. The leg drapes around the horse. The inner thigh and knee are able to have contact with the saddle while still being relaxed. The toe points forward and the heel is off until the rider needs to use it to cue the horse.

It's how the rider's leg hangs from the hip - the ideal dressage leg rotates in from the hip joint. This leg position allows the rider to drape their leg around the horse, much like if you were to throw a heavy, wet towel over your horse's back. This is how we want our legs to hang or drape around our horse.


This kind of leg position allows for optimum and maximum contact with the rider's leg on the horse. The leg can have contact with the horse beginning at the inner thigh and going all the way to down to the calf - all without pushing, pressing, gripping, or any other sort of tension-creating movements. When the leg hangs like this around the horse, it also allows the rider to close the calf and without using the spur.


How can you adjust your leg to find this position?

  • Drop your stirrups

  • Lift your leg off the saddle and rotate the entire leg inward, from the hip joint.

  • With your leg rotated inward and your toe pointed straight ahead, pick up your stirrup again.


If you've done this correctly, your stirrups will now feel much shorter. Resist the urge to adjust them. Take a deep breath and allow your weight to sink down into your stirrups.


Give it a try and let me know how it feels in the comments!

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