Let’s Discuss: Heels Down and Heels

Due to a range of ever-changing circumstances, I ended up being on Jack for a lot longer than anticipated. As a result, my calves have been basically screaming in agony for the last 3 days.

Now, recently I have come to the light-bulb conclusion that dressage does not exactly require heels down- and that my over-elastic ankles actually made for a bracing lower leg that brought my leg forward. Since having this epiphany, I am working to allow my leg to simply hang, focusing on making my knee point downwards and bringing my heels under my hips. That’s made going back and forth from dressage to jumping, which definitely requires heels down, that much more tricky. Hence sudden anguish after lots of jumping.


Which brings me to footwear. At work, I reside in the same building as the executive suite, and so the common wardrobe tends to skew towards the more business-side of business casual. Most women wear heels, skirts, dresses, and in general more ‘done-up’ than you would find elsewhere on campus. But most women don’t have a hobby that requires their heels to flex down. I pretty much wear some version of flats (or boots in the winter) every day, and it’s easy to feel a bit under dressed surrounded by these magazine worthy creatures who occupy the same space. And after this weekend, and the constant calf stretches I have been doing to ease the pain, I have even less desire to up my footwear game to fit in.

That would be me, on the right.

So I want to know, other equestrians with office jobs of the world: does your hobby effect how you dress for work? Do you struggle to get your heels down in general? Does riding influence the footwear choices that you make? Inquiring minds want to know!

16 thoughts on “Let’s Discuss: Heels Down and Heels

  1. I struggle with cramps in my ankles and feet if I’ve been really pushing down in my heels or riding a lot more than usual. I gave up on wearing heels years ago (after a blood clot in my leg following a broken collarbone made it painful for a while) and literally only wear them for special occasions. I’m 5’11” so the need to be taller just isn’t there!

  2. Ugh, I struggle with not putting my heels down in dressage. They just want to go down! I can’t tell you how many times my trainer has told me to relax my ankles. That’s a good visual to think about pointing my knee downward.

  3. Stretch your heels and calves regularly. It helps a lot. I don’t have a wardrobe that goes against heels down but running tightens the heel tendons so I need to stretch them to increase elasticity. It actually is super helpful to think “toes up” instead of heels down. It ends up with the same desire effect of heels down but you don’t jam your leg down because its a lift instead of a push.

  4. Oh my god there is no salary high enough to get me to wear heels. I have literally turned down job offers because of the dress code- if I can’t wear jeans and boots, then it’s just not going to work. Even for conferences where I have to dress like a professional (ugh), I’m always in flats. Love how heels look, but not into the pain that comes with!

  5. Yoga made my heels much, much more comfortable! I have never been one to force them down, so usually my feet are pretty level, but one month I did yoga everyday and my heels naturally relaxed lower. It was great while it lasted LOL

  6. Yeah I had the epiphany of why heels were always the pits for me to wear – as equestrians, we lengthen the calf and shorten the shin muscle. Wearing heels is totally opposite, and dear god even in not-so-tall heels I’m that chick on the right. My poor ankles lol I don’t have to dress up for work thankfully – but if I want to “dress up” I will wear my baby heels – as in 1 to 1 1/2″ fun wedge sandals. I can do those because they’re small enough to be just like my riding boots. My feet are always more comfortable in boot-like footwear, and they actually feel worse in supportive sneakers than they do in not-so-cushioned barn boots. I’m lucky I don’t have to dress “professionally” for my job even though it is pretty professional. It works cause all the other workers wear jeans and t-shirts. So even if I’m in Uggs and a matching vest with a blah shirt and pants I still look dressed up lol Other than that though if I’m really sore I’ll do calf, hamstring, piriformis and glute stretches. It all helps everything else lol

  7. I have the issue that I’m too flexed. Yes, I have gotten that critique before that my heels are too far down. And sometimes it feels like I cut off the blood supply by accident.

  8. I actually push my heels down too much and went on the hunt for stirrups with a wider foot base so that I didn’t loose feeling and have hurting ankles- which was my problem when riding.

    That gif with the girl falling in heals cracks me up! I don’t wear heals much and feel like I can walk in them well- but always worry that I would break an ankle ha!

  9. I’m with Olivia, couldn’t pay me to wear them! I love having a casual dress code because I’d break myself if I had to wear heels.

  10. I’m all about the flats and boots at work. Also, thank you – I was looking through last years dressage show photos this morning and wondering why my leg looks so ‘weird’ in a lot of the pics. It’s definitely me forcing my heels down – if you photoshopped the tack out, I look ready to head out for a jump school.

  11. I’m the opposite of everyone I guess – I love heels and have a closet full… and work in a casual enough environment they make fun of me when I wear them! Never thought about a link between them and my riding though, interesting. I’ve gone from business formal dress (was also in the C Suite) to business casual here and while it’s nice, it’s actually harder sometimes I think! Suits or blazers were just easy.

  12. I definitely wear flats or nice boots. Every once in a while, I’ll wear a small pair of heels. But I’m lucky enough to work in a place that I’m allowed to wear jeans and a t-shirt. Whenever the higher ups come in, I dress a bit more professionally to make a good impression. But FLATS ARE YOUR FRIEND!!

  13. I’m a teacher. There’s no way I would ever wear anything close to heels. I stand all day, and the school I work at’s campus is huge for a K-12 school. I easily get all my steps in for the day just at school alone. Flats are definitely your friend! I love tory burch and teiks for comfortable flats which still look professional. Though when its 15 degrees outside and I have to walk 1/4 of a mile down outdoor covered walkways to get to the photocopier at 7:30AM….you can bet I’m wearing my Uggs.

    When I ride with non dressage orientated trainers I always get yelled at for my heels. Luckily I realized quickly that even as an adult, the hunter world was still not for me, so I’m happily back not worrying about the fact my heels don’t reach the ground.

  14. I feel for you, but it definitely gets easier the more you do it! Before I quit my job to go to university I’d switch heels for riding boots every day and despite having sore calves at first, it quickly became easy.

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