Heels-Down Tips from Karen Banister

Polish your classical horsemanship position with heels-down pointers from pro Karen Banister.

In the March 2008 issue of Horse & Rider magazine, Colorado trainer and judge Karen Banister shares her tips for maintaining a classical position for maximum effectiveness in the saddle and success in Western horsemanship classes. Here, she shares her pointers on the position of your foot in the stirrup.

Photo 1: In this photo, my heel isn’t down far enough. I see this positioning all too often as a judge, but to be classically correct, your heel should be at least a little below the level of your toe.

Photo 2: This is ideal positioning–with the heel clearly below the toe. To achieve this position, stand up in your stirrups and let your weight sink all the way down into your heels. Notice how it feels in your leg muscles and ankle joint and strive to maintain that feeling as you ride.

Photo 3: I’ve turned my foot to show you how to place the ball of your foot in the stirrup. The inside of your boot should be as close as it can be to the inside of the stirrup, as mine is here.

–Photos by Lourie Zipf

Karen Banister is a carded judge for all the major breeds and has served as an instructor for Western horsemanship and equitation for the International Color Breed Council’s recertification program. She and her husband, Marc, offer a full range of training and breeding services at their White Harvest Farms in Brighton, Colo.

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