Riding on outside of foot

I’ve been dealing with this problem for awhile. When I ride, I put all the weight into the outside of my foot(like the pinky toe and the side of my foot). This only happens with my right ankle. I have tried multiple kinds of stirrups: the ones with hinges, wedge pads, and what I currently ride in, composite reflex stirrups.

I have been working with a PT and podiatrist. I do have chronic ankle instability and peroneal tendonitis in the right leg. My PT also found weakness in my right hip/glutes. I’ve been doing PT for 6 weeks now and my hips are sore and I still feel no relief/buildup of strength in my leg/ankle when riding. My PT thinks it might be more of a mental retraining thing.

Has anyone dealt with this problem before and if so, how did you fix it? Did anything else that I haven’t mentioned help?


Personally, I find it is my McTimony Chiropractor who straightens me up. The McTimony focus is on rebalancing the whole body, not just the bit that hurts or is bent. I started McTimony years ago for a frozen shoulder that PT didn’t help at all. The chiropractor solved it completely and I can raise my arm with full movement. Another advantage with my particular practitioner is that she both rides and treats more horses than humans so she totally understand what I’m after. I still develop a very slight stiffness in the shoulder but that is because of the way I hold myself and I haven’t had Alexander Technique for ages.

I also do this, but I walk on the outsides of my feet so I think it’s human-conformation related. I will say that it makes putting leg on before a fence a conscious effort, as the weight on the outside of the foot takes the calf away.

I have so many issues with my peroneal tendons when I ride especially in my right foot. I had surgery on it several years ago as well. A few conclusions I’ve came to:

  1. In my case, part of this is from just my anatomy. I remember when I was a kid my “trainer” use to yell at me for my toes sticking out to the side. She said if I wanted to be a serious rider my foot needed to be parallel to my horse so I contorted my lower leg to do that. She also had me BRACING my lower leg down so much that it was floating totally off my horses side. So incorrect riding really didn’t help and for me that was and is a big part of my issue. Now I ride with my lower leg relaxed, and my toe pointing out slightly as it does naturally. I’ve worked on this for years but I still catch myself in old habits and whenever I start bracing with my lower leg, my peroneal tendons start killing me. I notice I especially do it when I’m riding a hotter, more forward horse because I get in a bad habit of just taking my lower leg off of my horses side and bracing against the stirrups. I’m not saying you’re doing this, this has just definitely worsened my problem personally.

  2. I cannot ride in any bendy or flexible stirrups. For me movement makes things So. Much. Worse. I’ve found anything jointed, or flexible will give me so much pain, it’s better to ride without stirrups all together. What I’ve found is that heavy, solid, stirrups with wife foot beds help me the most.

  3. Most western saddles are out. I grew up riding western so maybe this also contributed to my problem but I’ve found that the western fenders just pull my foot in and that makes the pain worse

  4. Whenever the pain gets really bad I just take my stirrups off for a month.

  5. I ride with my stirrups super long.

These are just my experiences. The one thing I’ve always been curious about is if wider stirrup leathers would help too, I’ve just never tried them but I suspect they would also help.

I’ve been considering chiropractic but I didn’t want too many therapies going on at once, even though it probably wouldn’t hurt. Is McTimony chiropractic only a UK/Europe thing? Internet search is not bringing anything up in my area.

Did you get surgery for a tear or subluxation or something else? I’d say my horse is more on the lazy side, but I’m not nagging him with my leg nor bracing against him. The stirrups I currently ride in are wide track stirrups and they have a shock absorber in them. I find it easier 1) to grip these stirrups and 2) the shock absorber helps my ankles relax a bit more, but if I relax too much, that’s when my ankle rolls out. I mainly do dressage so my stirrups are long, but not super long. When I do jump or do conditioning work in my jump saddle, the shorter stirrups do aggravate it more. I do have wide stirrup leathers on my jump saddle. I haven’t noticed a difference with them. Usually I will KT tape my peroneals but it only provides a small amount of relief.

I would love to be able to ride with a brace on but I don’t know any kind of tall boot for showing that would fit a sturdy ankle brace.

I had surgery to repair a torn tendon that was repeatedly subluxing, so my tendon got stitched up and I had the groove in my fibula deepened. I should mention that at the time I was also a serious runner and had a lot of ankle sprains so that didn’t help.

I’m not talking about bracing against the horse I’m talking about bracing against the stirrups. I’ll try to find a picture of what I’m talking about. Riders get into this habit of bracing in order to keep their “heels down” but if your leg is in the correct position the heel will naturally come down. If you’re having to physically push the heel down, you’re not doing it correctly. My mare is lazy it’ll which helps because I need to keep my leg on my horse. The speedy ones I have to watch myself because sometimes I do get into a habit of bracing against the stirrup especially if they’re the greener type that just runs away from lower leg aids.

I think I understand what you mean about bracing against the stirrup, kind of like you tense your thighs and almost grip with your knees to take the lower leg off the horse in the sense that you are afraid to touch an already forward going horse. I don’t do that when I ride my horse. Wrong word choice on my part.

When I ride, all my weight goes to the outside of the foot and then my heel drops. It drops in a way that I feel I can’t control the drop and it hurts. My heel is down but there is no force. I’ve been told I have overly flexible ankles but I’m not sure what came first: the over-flexibility or the ankle instability. I think of it as my ankle is stuck in a rolled out position when I ride.

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This is how it used to be for me but I had to retrain myself to turn my toe out instead of my foot being parallel to my horse. Nothing obnoxious or anything but when my toe is turned slightly out the weight shifts to the inside of my leg rather than to the outside.

It developed here in the UK based on the USA original practice. I’ve just emailed to ask the McTimony Trust if there are any people in the USA.

Not just this, but a lot of your post could mirror me, minus the long stirrups and peroneal pain. People have asked me how I get my toes straight instead of turned out and I laugh and say DONT BE LIKE ME because it’s a really hard habit to break. Plus I know someday I will pay (likely knees) for it.

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It’s interesting you say that because I don’t know many other riders or trainers that share the mindset that it’s ok for your toes to stick out. I’ve read old threads on the subject here and I hardly ever see anyone ever bring up that we’re all built differently and it doesn’t make sense that the same lower leg position would work for everyone. I know there are riders that are naturally more comfortable keeping their toe parallel to the horse, I’m just not one of them.

I’ve now worked to turn my toe back out to take the stress off my ankles but I have trainers still pick on me about it. I have yet to hear a good argument for why the foot needs to be parallel and it’s not like I have plans to make it in the big eq ring anyway. :woman_shrugging:

Edited to add:

I’m also a runner and for running, in my stride I supinate which is where I shift my weight onto the outsides of my foot. In running that’s definitely rare, most people pronate where they shift their weight to the inside off the big toe. Usually people with really high arches tend to supinate whereas flat footed people tend to pronate. I’ve always suspected my riding issues and my running issues are related though.

Re: the running, same. I wear my shoes clearly on the outside. I remember those first riding lessons, how bad my knees and ankles hurt while I was trying to force my toes straight forward. Now it doesn’t hurt like that, but I wonder what stretched or worn to make it not hurt anymore.

See that makes me wonder then if we supinate because we’ve contorted our joints from forcing our toes in or if the reason why that position was so unnatural is also the same reason why we supinate. Maybe I’ll bring this up in the running thread.

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You too? I’ve been dealing with this my whole life.

My conformation has me naturally toeing out. I wear down the heels of my shoes unevenly, etc.

In the saddle, my toes turn out and I end up riding off the back of my calf. If I try to turn them forward, all of my weight is on the outside of my foot along my pinky toes. The inside of the ball of my foot won’t even make contact with the stirrup. It’s really painful.

It’s actually made it tough (re: impossible) for me to ride with some instructors. It seems there are two flavors of instructors: those who just yell at me to turn my toes in and won’t listen or see the problem it creates for me, and those who take the half a second to observe the situation and try to work with me and my natural conformation. There are unfortunately waaaaay more of the former than the latter in this world.

I wish I could say flex stirrups helped. None of the affordable ones I have tried flex enough along the medial lateral plane to correct the problem for me. Maybe some of the pricier ones do? I have a ceiling on what I will pay for stirrups.

Lengthening my stirrups and stretching my legs out away from the horse, then down before placing my feet in the stirrups helps. Also, stretching by pulling my legs back behind the saddle one of the time helps roll my thigh fat (ew) out of the way, which reduces the problem a bit. Basically I have to stretch to roll my legs inward from the hip down to have any prayer of getting my foot in a better position.

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YES. This is my exact struggle as well. This is also why I’m nervous about going to clinics. Like who am I to say “I’m sorry mr. highly-respected-clinician, I actually have my own theory on the best lower leg position for my anatomy so no thanks on your criticism”.

Flex/ jointed stirrups make it significantly worse for me. I think because if the attire up is flexible, there’s the potential for the outside of my foot to sit even more unevenly than it would with a solid, straight, wide foot bed. The flex/ jointed ones also also move more and I think that doesn’t help either. I bought so many different types of flexible fancy stirrups thinking that would help but my problem got so much worse. One day I rode in a friends saddle and she had the Jin stirrups and it felt a million times better. I bought a pair of Jin stirrup knockoffs from eBay that night and I refuse to ride in anything else. That was 10 years ago and I gave away all my bendy stirrups. I’ll go no stirrups before I ride in those ever again.

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Which model of Jin Stirrups? I have not tried those.

The price for them is… meh. Still sky high, but not as bad as some out there today. Maybe I can find some used ones…

I wouldn’t say I have clinic phobia but I definitely know in 5 minutes or less if I’m going to have a positive experience or if I just wasted my money. I particularly hate it when instructors feel the need to yell at me or talk down to me about my foot position. Do they think I’m deliberately trying to ride with my toes pointing every which direction? Do they think nobody has mentioned it to me before them? If it was as easy for me as just pointing my foot forward, I would already be doing it. It just goes to show the style of instruction: an instructor who can only preach a system v. one who can consider the individual.

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Mine are knockoffs but they’re just like the Jin original stirrup. I’m not sure what brand they are or if they even make them anymore though. If your pain issues are anything like mine… and your issues sound EXACTLY like mine…I promise you they’re worth every penny. This is coming from someone that rides in a 20 year old Stubben. I’m usually not picky about my tack but I swear by that style of stirrup.

Okay now I’m curious about these stirrups as I have similar problems with pronation and my little toes falling asleep :lol: the more I try to keep my feet parallel with the horse, the worse it gets. and I HATE jointed stirrups.

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I had peroneal tendinitis in my right foot which was coming from my lower back/SI. I did PT forever on my foot with no change, and one day, my PT asked how my foot was, and I said, I don’t know because all day today I can only think about my right hip (I’d get sort of IT band kind of referred pain). Anyway, we started working on that, and then my foot felt fine. I’ve always had a bit of a crooked pelvis. Turns out that actually maintaining L4-L5 function through chiro is the best and has helped me repattern my nerves and movement patterns (that mental connection training piece). You can think about your ankle all you want, but if your brain can’t actually communicate to it properly, you can’t really change what you’re doing. I’ve had MRIs and the whole workup and don’t have a messed up disc or anything, but I clearly had some nerve root something going on!

Since you’ve got some tightness higher up, I’d look more at your pelvis and lower back.

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