5 Stretches To Help You Lengthen Your Leg For Dressage
Here are 5 dressage leg stretches to help improve the length and position of your legs in the saddle. Gain a deeper seat and improve alignment.
These dressage leg stretches are designed to help you as a rider to be more supple and elastic while maintaining strength and stability. The ability to give clear subtle aids and have the horse move freely off our leg. When a rider is unbalanced, stiff and rigid those aids can become unclear and the ability of the seat to move freely can be inhibited either due to an unbalanced seat or badly positioned pelvis.
In order to correct this and allow your body to have a long leg, hip flexibility and elasticity are crucial to a rider’s position to help position the pelvis correctly. Tight hips or a rigid back, can cause the pelvis to rock forward or tip too far back. Either of these two things will then effect the effectiveness of the rider’s leg not to mention its position.
First I think I should be clear, it’s not that we can anatomically lengthen your leg, but instead we are lengthening the muscles with some dressage specific leg stretches in order to allow your leg to finds its full length. By doing this we ensure our pelvis is positioned correctly with even balance on two seat bones and that your seat bone position is as correct as possible.
Above this balanced pelvis, you then have your good neutral spine in alignment. Then the goal is to lengthen the leg by first training the muscles to position it correctly and create mobility through the ankle to absorb movement. Tight hamstrings or over dominant abductors can cause the leg to shorten and the toes to turn out making it super hard to maintain the correct position in the saddle. Add to that any rigidness or momentum and you have an environment to bounce.
To begin with here are some dressage leg stretches to create mobility through the hips to help position your seat bones evenly in the saddle. Aim to hold each of these for 30-60 seconds, but start off with small short attempts of 5-10seconds if you need. Gradually build them up and use the options I give in the descripton on how to adjust if you need to.
Great for helping to loosen up around your hip joint and into your glutes and ITB.
1. Slide one leg out in front with your knee bent, if you find its to much with your back leg straight you can have this bent also.
2. Then allow the upper body to lower down over top.
3. You will feel this through the outside of the front leg and into the bottom.
Aim to hold for 60 seconds
Great for helping to loosen up your calves and ankle which absorb a lot of the horse’s movement when we are riding. This stretch also gets in your hamstrings and lower back at the same time.
1. Set your self up on all fours and left your bottom to the sky into whats called downdog in yoga.
2. Bend one leg as you try to lower the heel down on the other side, you can have a slight bend in this leg also if you need.
3. Play around with bending your knee more to get deeper into your Achilles and hamstrings.
Aim to hold for 30-60 secs, do small bursts if you need to at the beginning.
This is all about stretching down the outside of your leg, from the hip down towards the knee. When this is tight it can often be reflected with knee and hip problems.
1. Sitting on the ground, tuck one leg underneathe you while the other leg crosses over your knee.
2. If you find this too much, you can have your bottom leg straight on the ground, just cross the top leg over as you twist.
3. Think of lifting tall with your spine as you hug your knee and twist your body around to the back.
4. Try and keep both your seat bones on the ground as you do this.
Aim to hold for 60 seconds.
This is about lengthening the back of the legs and loosening up your lower back down to your hamstrings.
1. Sitting on the ground, lengthen both legs out straight ahead of you and flex your feet so your feet are at right angles to the ground.
2. Then think of tipping forward from your hip joint until you feel a stretch through your hamstrings.
3. Aim to keep your back nice and long and try not to round out your spine too much.
Aim to hold for 60 seconds and focus on your breathing while you do it.
Great for helping to open up your hips and loosen up around your pelvis before you ride. Often really tight after long periods of sitting.
1. Start by kneeling on the ground with one knee while the other leg is out in front of you to support.
2. Place a cushion underneath your knee if you find it too much.
3. Then gradually allow yourself to come forward until you feel a stretch in your hips, you don’t need to have your hands met the ground, they can rest on front knee, or you can use a wall or chair for support as you gradually come forward.
4. Take your time and try and then hold the stretch to allow the hip to loosen up.
Aim to hold for 30-60 seconds.
So there you have it, 5 dressage leg stretches to help you feel more supple in the saddle. If you put the effort into improving your riding technique as much as you do your horses, you’ll be able to become a stronger team and your riding will start to excel. For more exercises, stretches and workouts to help advance your riding and fitness, check out our online dressage rider training program.
Here, you’ll find all the tools and specific dressage exercises you need to take your riding to a new level.
Want more dressage stretches now to help you with your riding? Try these articles out.