You can also "cheat" and get those rubber inserts for the stirrup irons that are slightly wedged. This helped me lots with the toe out issue and it was not so pronounced that it caused any pain for me. It did get my leg in a better position and more relaxed and also put my weight evenly in the stirrup.
It's no more cheating than wearing shoes that fit, that differ from the run of the mill.
I often lent my double offsets (Stuebben, as far as I know is the only company that makes them, or at any rate sells them in the U.S.) to beginners because they could far more easily relax into the heel down, toe out position. They both slant down to the rear, and have the stirrup leather hole in the top offset to the outside, so the inside end of the tread drops.
There is a passage in Sally Swift's first book, discussing foot and lower leg position where she clearly describes this position, heel down, toe out slightly (you can't point your toe out with your heel up without rolling onto the inside edge of the ball of your foot) that she refers to creating a brace for the lower leg. Yes, that's her word. Brace.
I was recently accused elsewhere (Not AND) of advocating and entire school of riding method where one "braces" the body (absolute nonsense) because I discussed how this position removes, for jumping and faster cross country work, the natural wobbliness of the lower leg (ankle specifically) under stress.
There's nothing especially new in this. In fact, it's been around for quite some time. 70 years to my knowledge, when it showed up the first time at the 36 Olympics being used, along with the forward seat, used by the Italian team that swept the stadium jumping events. It did cause bent noses among two nations horse people, but the rest of the world interested in jumping quickly adopted it. The U.S. not only adopted it, and the seat it came with, but invited the developer, Sr Caprilli to the U.S. Others in the U.S. saw and learned. A Russian ex-pat, Vladimir Littauer was responsible for it spreading quickly in the U.S. and of course to other nations as well, as he wrote extensively on this subject.
Caprilli, sadly, died, I believe in one of our major U.S. cities, in a fall with a horse on a wet cobble stone street, about a year after arriving here. I try to remember that when I grouse about putting on a hard hat for more active types of riding.
Not enough emphasis has been placed on this issue of stirrup, foot, ankle, lower leg position I fear. It's such a given in the jumping arena that it's assumed riders learned it as children, and it's automatic at the point they come to competition.
I have seen this lack of attention to it result in some relaxing of this standard, and I have seen some riders in Eventing, where there seems to still be a belief one must brace with feet forward over big jumps (a false assumption based on a lack of awareness of both horse and human rider biomechanics). And there are too many fatalities and injuries in this sport.
I do wish, if they are going to do it, (I am not a proponent of eventing personally) I do wish they would revisit this issue. I sent young women, and a few young men to compete for some years in Eventing (called Three Day back then), with never a fall. Not one. Because I was a stubborn task master when it came to this exercise and discipline of leg-ankle-foot.
And no one that learns it has ever complained that it is stiff or tense. In fact it is a way to relax into a safe comfortable and secure position.
If one looks at the mechanics of the lower leg it starts to become obvious.
Sprains to the ankle rarely involved ligaments on the inside of the ankle and foot. It's the outside that is weak and not built to absorb shock. One can engage the tendon of the massive calf and tendon combination to absorb a huge amount of shock, IF the heel is down. If not, that shock can go either way of center, to one side or the other. If it goes to the ouside and the ankle folds so that ligaments (bone to bone connectors) are put understress stability is lost (one wobbles, and strains, and ultimately sprains).
If one googles the term 'pronation,' and reads what experts on this subject say, they discuss how our foot naturally comes down with slight pronation to the outside, and rolles not over the full ball of the foot, so much as the part behind the big toe. This slight angle would tend, I profess logically, to cause staying off the weaker outside of the ankle and letting the stronger inside of the ankle absorb the shock and provide strength to the stride through to it's finish.
On horseback that would translate as allowing the the ankle to flex toward it's stronger side, built to limit the range of motion BEFORE ligaments are over stretched and strained.
If you look at pictures of the structure and do a simple experiment it becomes more obvious that rolling the ankle out, you put put those ligaments under high stress, while rolling it in, relaxes them and the bone structure itself now engages the achilles tendon and it's associated large calf muscle as a shock absorber.
You may see this at http://www.eorthopod.com/images/Content ... dons04.jpg
where one can study both this view and others, and read descriptions of how this joint works.
And here is the experiment. I don't recommend it if you have weak or injured ankles or lower leg. Supporting yourself, and in bare or stockinged feet, stand with feet about a foot apart, and roll your ankle joints outward...do this carefully and slowly and stop if you feel too much strain. Note that there is no solid stopping point. If you continued the roll you would "sprain an ankle." Don't push that far.
Now go the opposite direction. Note that there is a distinct sense that the range of motion will run out and the ankle will be supported without spraining. http://www.northcoastfootcare.com/footcare-info/ankle-sprains.html
I think of those thin bands of ligaments that tear more easily as the fine motor control devices, while the heavy ligaments on the inside to the fibula and the large tendon to the achillies are the stout foundation weight bearers.
Those that study to train athletes, or teach exercise mechanics know perfectly well, as do physical therapists, that joints, while free to move in one direction have limited range in another. And it's this arrangement and similar that makes this possible. You cannot safely hold your weight under stress with just the outside ligaments.
The lower leg was built to absorb shock, a lot of it. And the suspension of the upper body and thighs on the tendon and ligament complex through the knee and hip is another shock absorbing system, though not nearly as strong as the calves, and achilles tendons. Until you look at the thigh, and the huge quadriceps bundle. Those below the hip, and the gluteous maximus above open and close the hip. They need all the stability they can get, to be able to follow the horse's movement. Thus, immobilizing the lower leg into as solid a platform as possible aids in riding over jumps.
Things we think are true about the foot and ankle turn out, when you take them apart, to be not so. I think it can be seen how both pronation, and rotation of the ankle joint through the lateral-median line works, here:
[url]http://www.northcoastfootcare.com/footc ... atomy.html
Put them together in a certain configuration and you have a very stable platform to jump from, or rather to absorb the forces involved in the horse jumping while staying with the horse, and much more easily controlling one's connection of one's one balance with the horse's balance.
There are other mechanics that go with the bent knee, the bent hip, and the flexed ankle, rolled inward to the point of it's immobility. Here is where individuals will discover their own unique body responses.
Most will feel, when the toe is turned out, a change in the thigh, knee, and calf along it's posterior inner quarter. The feeling is one of more closeness. Not pinching, but simply closer and more unified as one surface. One can, even with shortened stirrups get a very real feel of lengthening the "leg" line, going deeper around the horse.
There is also a distinct feeling, of one cultivates the vertical line, so that heel, hip, shoulder and ear align, that should the horse evaporate, one would drop to a balanced stable position on the earth.
If one studies the top jumpers, one will find that not only can they open and close their body hinges for following the horse's center of gravity under the effects of forces of overcoming inertia (we all it balance -- meaning the dynamic of retaining it under force)
but they do so with an almost still leg. It is as though their knee has a pin running through it, through the horse, and out the other knee.
The leg is still against the horse and saddle.
Well you fall off if it isn't? No, but you will have to make all kinds of adjustments to maintain your seat if your leg can swing about freely in a jump.
It's stillness, both forward and back, of the platform of support (foot and ankle, and lower leg making up that platform) in relation to a vertical line that provides the base one needs to maintain over the extreme forces of the horse's jump.
The sensation that people who try this ankle foot configuration for the first time experience as strain or tension is nothing more than the new stretching of the tendons and goes away as the tendon and muscle accommodate and relax.
Relaxation of a muscle and tendon combination is aided by stretching it first.
As you age, and you will
you'll find more and more that if you don't stretch you will stiffen. And you will become tense. Muscles must be used, tensed and released, if one is to remain strong, flexible, and capable of relaxation.
Heels down, please. Toe out just a bit. The roll of the ankle joint tells you how far. Not some arbitrary instructors degrees of angle.
Thanks for reading this far. This kind of stuff can be deadly dry and boring when it would be so much more fun to be with your horse. Go.
Me, I'm going to go feed and exercise Altea now.