On the Ball: Keeping Weight in Your Stirrups

Aspen Miller, the 2020 All-In Breakaway Champion, is working on keeping weight in her stirrups. Here, she breaks down how she does it throughout her run—from standing in the box to her delivery.

One thing that I struggle with is keeping weight on the balls of my feet. I’m wanting to focus on where my weight is more in the box. I try to focus on it throughout my run, and I notice that when I ride my horse better, it’s easier to keep my feet in my stirrups and my weight in my stirrups. It keeps my upper body square. Here’s how I’m working on it:

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In the box

In the box, I focus on where my weight is on my feet and how much of my weight is in my saddle. I have a tendency to squeeze with my thighs. I want to keep my legs around my horse and keep pressure and weight in my stirrups, making sure that my upper body stays loose.

Aspen Miller leaving the box to rope a calf.

Aspen Miller is leaving the box with her weight pushed down in her stirrups, giving her body strength to get forward to rope her calf. 

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Leaving the Corner

When I leave, I make sure that I really push off with my stirrups instead of necessarily dropping everything. I want to push on my stirrups in my start and focus on keeping that weight there throughout the whole run.

I notice that if I put my toes down more, then I lean more to the front of my saddle. If I’m on my heels, then I have a hard time getting up. I really focus on keeping the balls of my feet in my stirrups a little more—not with my toes down, but just with the weight pressure.

Aspen Miller has her thighs squeezing her horse instead of applying pressure in her stirrups.

Aspen Miller is squeezing with her thighs as she is asking her horse to stop during a run. 

In the run

Instead of chasing, I want to focus on riding to the calf and having everything forward, rather than having to pick up when I get there. I want to ride my horse square, keep my feet underneath me and drive my horse with my feet until I get in position to throw my rope, instead of getting out in front and blocking my horse off. To do that, I have to focus on keeping that weight down in my stirrups.

Aspen Miller struggles with keeping weight in her stirrups during the stop.

Aspen Miller is squeezing with her thighs, rather than keeping weight on her feet shown here. 

In the stop

In the stop, I’m bad about squeezing with my thighs. You can see in the photo that I don’t have weight in my stirrups and I’m starting to squeeze with my legs. I really have to focus on riding my horses correct and using my feet to ride them all the way through my delivery and my slack. That’s when I put my weight in my stirrups and don’t squeeze with my thighs. 

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