Sunday, April 29, 2012

Rule of Knuckle




It came to my attention this weekend that a lot of the younger generation doesn’t know the "rule of knuckle" when it comes to adjusting stirrups.  My daughter and I had a younger rider over to pick up a saddle we were lending her for the summer.  The riding school she attends didn’t have a saddle to fit her or the horse she’s leasing this summer and we wanted to see if the saddle fit her.  When my daughter showed her how to get a basic idea of stirrup length, she had never seen or heard of the method we’ve used for years.  I’ve come across other visitors to the farm who never saw this either, so I thought it was interesting enough to write about it.

Basically, you make a fist placing your knuckles, bent at the second finger joint, on the stirrup bar and stretch the stirrup iron towards your armpit; when it fits comfortably without being too short or long, that’s your basic stirrup length, and you can fine-tune from there once you get on.  I’ve found most times this is a pretty accurate guide to what you’ll ride in.  The knuckle measurement is for a hunt seat length; adjusting to the third joint would be more of a jumping/cross-country length, and adjusting to your fingertips would be more of a dressage length, but we prefer the medium second-joint length for most of our riding, even flat work, and it is a good starting adjustment.

Of course, if you don’t use the armpit method there’s always the wait until you get on and let your feet hang and where the stirrup hits above, on, or below your anklebone to decide the length. I never realized there were so many riders who hadn’t been taught these easy methods of how your stirrups could be adjusted for correct riding.  Or at the very least they could be used as a starting point to your personalized stirrup length.

If there are other methods I don’t know of them.  So what method do you use when adjusting your stirrups to the perfect length for you?

Until next time

Quote for Today
Horseback riding is life, the rest is just details.

21 comments:

  1. I've always started with finger tip length and gone from there. With my proportions that seems to give me a good hunter length. I like to be at least close to the right length before I get on, that way if something unexpected happens I have reasonable stirrups while I deal with it.

    When riding western, it becomes even more important to be able to guestimate stirrup length since adjusting western stirrups from the saddle isn't really possible (although I'm sure there are some acrobatic people out there that have done it lol). Similar to English, I go with a basic arm length and then hope I won't have to get off to fix it lol.

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  2. I have always used the knuckle method. I thought it was taught in riding 101?

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  3. I too have always used the "arm's length" stirrup leather measurement. I thought that was a standard.

    I do find different saddles can make a difference, though, One rider got into my Ansur with her own leathers adjusted to normal length and had to drop them three holes before they were right.

    Kind of interesting.

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  4. I've always used that method but I never knew it had an official name!

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  5. That's the method I learned as well. It was so long ago, but isn't that the pony club way?!

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  6. Wait, some people don't know that? I've been doing that for forever...

    I hope she and the horse are happy with the saddle :)

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  7. I always used this method to adjust my stirrups during my riding days but didn't know it had a name. Looks like this practical advice will live on in the gal who borrowed you saddle. I can hear her now telling others!

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  8. I use this on a western saddle too, but not to the knuckle - to the fingertips.

    That said I think I learned it two years ago - no one ever teaches it that I can find, I found out at a saddle fitting class.

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  9. It seems so simple doesn't it?

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  10. I use the fingertips version. This was a necessary adjustment technique when I used to ride in lots of different saddles. Now that I have my own, I do not have to change my leathers. What a luxury!

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  11. I had at least two instructors teach me this method, but it was over 10 years ago. I do pass it along to all the novices and re-riders that I work with, though!

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  12. I can't remember where I learned it because I don't think anyone in particular taught it to me, but I've been doing the "fingertip/arm's length" stirrup leather measurement for many years. I prefer a longer western length for the comfort of my knees and hips.

    ~Lisa

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  13. yeah, i've come across a lot of younger students whose instructors have never taught them this, but older riders all know it. it seems the younger generation of riders are missing out on some of the good old-fashioned basics!

    maybe they're all spoiled and used to having private lessons and someone on the ground to help them adjust their stirrups for them, but i remember lots of chaotic group lessons where we all had school horses and school saddles, we mounted up together and we were on our own--you needed to be able to get it right in a hurry before the lesson started because they weren't going to stop and wait for you ;-)

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  14. Hi Everyone,

    I guess 99% of riders already knew this so this particular post was unnecessary. I have been surprised that some of the riders I've had to the farm didn't know it so that's why I posted about it. Oh well...

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  15. Ooo, can I be smug even though I don't own a horse - I know about the 'knuckle rule'! :D

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  16. I can't remember when I learned it, probably in college since that was my first formal english instruction. I use the fingertip method for dressage length.

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  17. Interesting that younger riders do not seem to being taught this anymore. Bit of a lack of education, I think. Do they expect to only ever meet polite horses who won't fidget or spook while they adjust their stirrup leathers?

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  18. Fingertips and armpit. Dressage saddle you know :-) I'm often as amazed as you are by the lack of knowledge of some riders. I know a kid who'd been having riding lessons once a week for a year and a half and who didn't know how to ride a circle (we call it a 'volte'). Or a 12-year old who had been riding for 6 years (yes, six!) and didn't know how to saddle up a horse. I mean... what? Deep sigh. I'm glad I had better trainers, way back when I learned the basics of riding.

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  19. We do the same as you describe - my arms tend to be short for my leg length though so I usually lower one more to allow for that. Since I'm the only one riding in my two dressage saddles my stirrups stay where I put them so it's almost never necessary to adjust. :)

    I taught this to the beginners who came over this past year so am passing it on to new generations. :)

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  20. Maybe I'm the only one who didn't know it. lol! I ride western and have always had my own saddles and horses, so I jumped on--up and down--stood in the saddle--readjusted and when perfect, left it that way.

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  21. It surely must have been ingrained into my head at an early age, that rule of knuckle to armpit! Pony club is a great thing!
    Loved your post..good stuff!
    KK

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