Whilst I’m not a huge advocator for putting too much weight in the stirrup (if you press down you’ll pop your seat up….. its physics) we do still need a connection to the stirrup and the ability to absorb the movement of the horse through our lower leg and ankle. Being unable to do this causes our lower leg to flop around and essentially be ineffective.
There are two elements to being a good shock absorber.
The first one is the mobility of the joint to move freely. If a joint is stiff and restricted the movement of the horse becomes an impact -think hitting a wall rather than an absorption of force such as hitting a boxing pad.
To mobilise the joint is very simple, just making circles in both directions aiming to take the joint through its full range of motion each way.
Secondly we need to ensure the joint is not restricted by the muscles attached to it. This means stretching the calf muscles.
I like this kneeling stretch as it hits both the big calf muscle (the Gastrocnemius) and the often forgotten smaller muscle below it (the soleus).
Now they are mobile we need to strengthen them.
The muscles around the foot, ankle and shin can be strengthened using a resistance band to pull away from the outside of the foot and then the inside.
Then having a strong set of calves can help so simple, slow, controlled raises off a step can do this.
Then to up the ante, some instability work on a balance pod (with no shoes on). Just trying to stand on one leg on these can be a challenge, but once you’ve mastered that you can add Single Leg Deadlift and Squats….