Four-star event rider Coral Keen provides one H&H forum user with some helpful advice on how to attain a secure lower leg
Q: “How can I get a secure lower leg while jumping? I’m really trying to keep my leg forward and heels down on the approach to a fence, but I can’t keep them there what with thinking about everything else. What advice do you have and are there any exercises I can do to improve it? Thanks.”
A: “With this it’s really about trying to build the muscle memory so that keeping your heels down comes naturally without you having to think about it, so you can concentrate on everything else.
“Starting on the ground, there is an exercise you can do at home so long as you have stairs or even just a step. Stand on the step with the ball of your foot on the edge, and drop down through the heels. Really concentrate on getting the calf muscles to stretch down like they would in the stirrup, so you feel it through your Achilles tendon. Try and do this every day — the more your leg gets used to being in the position, the faster your muscle memory will learn that this is the position that it needs to be in.
“Progressing onto exercise while riding, something I really like to do is get people to walk, trot and canter in the jumping position. You can do this out hacking or in the school, it doesn’t matter so long as you stay in that position. Not only is this another chance to build your muscle memory and teach your body where it needs to be, it will also build that core strength and balance that you need without having to worry about everything else that you do when you’re jumping. When your happy you can progress this on to trotting and cantering over poles on the ground, and build up to small fences continuing until you are jumping at your normal height.”