Western Equitation

I’m in my a-hem, twenties, and it’s been quite some time since my equitation days and I’ve forgotten some of the aspects of it. Something I noticed at a show last weekend, was that the kids who do very well in Western Equitation have their heels down and toes pointed almost inward to the horse. Call me crazy, but how is that functional? I remember doing that as well, but at the time, just did what I was told would win me the class. Now it seems kind of funny – where did this come from? Is it functional? I always thought the the toes should be at a more natural angle – not out like a duck, but at a slight slight angle away from the horse, so the heel and calves could be used as aids.

4 Responses to Western Equitation

  1. ASHF says:

    Yes, the toes should be pointed forward. My trainer used the example of having lights on your toes and needing them to lite up your path. I think that the problem you might be seeing is over correction, riders are told to put their toes forward and they go a little too far.
    Just my guess with not really seeing it.

  2. jns767 says:

    Well, I am just going to have to answer my own question. I really am curious about this, so yesterday while riding, I asked the barn owner what the toes pointed almost inward to the horse was all about. She said that really, it’s incorrect, and in her opinion is a 4-h thing. This question really came about for me 2 weeks ago at a show. I noticed that the young lady who wins many of the West. Eq. classes, does the inward toe thing. She is also incredibly still on her horse, and aside from her toes looks marvelous. So, I’ve come to the conclusion that she doesn’t win because of her toes, but more so her total package. Ha – hopefully that’s right. I’m brilliant ;).

  3. RaeOfLight says:

    I almost said something when you first posted this, but I don’t consider this the answer you’re looking for, just my experience… When I was a kid I took lessons from a local woman. I also took dance lessons as a kid so I had an issue with “ballet feet.” She was always telling me “heels down and out.” Although I would not consider her an expert. At this time I was riding western pretty much exclusively.

    Later on in college I was on the equestrian team and rode hunt seat. I asked the trainer this same question about “heels down and out” and at the time he didn’t have an answer for me. But in later lessons he started to mention it occasionally. So I would assume “duck feet” or “ballet feet” are both incorrect. As with many things it’s probably just about finding a happy medium.


  4. Carley says:

    heels being down and out is going to cause the rider to pinch at their knee and thigh. ive learned (from experience) that this can really shut down a horse, especially a young horse still learning forward. if you trap them with your thigh and hip angle they have no where to go because you’re blocking and clamping on them. an older, more experienced horse may just ignore it because they know their job or slow down because the rider is holding on them. so… IMO you probably see it because she’s useing it as cue to get her more broke and experienced horse to stay slower.

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