Becoming A Better Rider Day 8: Riding Without Stirrups
Hopefully you enjoyed yesterday, because we are back at it again today! This will be another exercise under saddle.
So go ahead and get your horse groomed and tacked up, and out to your riding arena. You can go through the steps we did yesterday, walking around the arena, standing still for mounting, etc.
And this is where we are going to change it up….
Riding without stirrups is an excellent exercise to becoming a better rider. It helps you to ride with a deeper seat, and with better posture. You have to work harder without the stirrups to stay balanced in the saddle. When you ride without stirrups you focus on the grip, by keeping your toes up, to grip with your legs. And your upper body rests on your seat, your crotch (sorry), and your 2 seat bones.
Riding Without Stirrups
Yes, that’s right. Today you are going to ride without your stirrups! You can go about this two different ways.
One, you can simply cross your stirrups over the saddle. But if you are like me, you may be tempted to grab them again once you get frustrated. They can also interfere with your leg I have found, but that could just be me. But if you are only going to do this for one or two revolutions around your arena, this will probably be the better option.
Two, you can remove the stirrup leathers and stirrups completely. I prefer this method. But if this is what you will be doing, you will need some way to mount your horse. Either with a mounting block, or having someone around to give you a leg up. I suppose you could be extremely talented, and can just jump up into the saddle. And if this is you, way to go! But I prefer the mounting block.
Getting Started Without Stirrups
To begin, riding without stirrups is not an easy task. Yes, it will help your balance, and leg position. But if you have never attempted this before, you might want to have someone out with you while you do your stirrup-less work.
I would also encourage you to start this exercise in walk. When you feel confident with your balance in walk, then maybe move up to trot.
Remember that core exercise you have been doing every day? It will be really helpful when you ride without stirrups. You will be engaging and using those core muscles and really working hard while you are riding.
While walking, allow your legs to really relax, and stretch down the sides of your horse. Try to do this for a full revolution of your riding arena.
In walk, raise your thighs out from the saddle. You can do this one at a time for balance concerns, or both at the same time. Raiser your thigh sideways for a few seconds, and then gently return them to your saddle.
When you are more confident, work on sitting trot without your stirrups.
When your confidence and balance has increased, work on changes of direction in sitting trot.
When you have mastered the above exercises, begin to work on rising trot without stirrups. This will really help to develop your inner thigh muscles.
These are just a few examples of different exercises you can do without stirrups.
One Baby Step at a Time
With these activities of course start with what your level of competency is. Meaning if you are only comfortable walking, you should not be focusing on rising trot without your stirrups. Only go to where you feel comfortable, and push yourself a little bit to get to the next level.
Once you are done, be sure to give your horse a nice rub on the neck to let him know he did good.
Take him back to the barn, or pasture, cool him out, untack and groom and congratulate yourself on yet another day completed in this 31 day challenge. If you have made it this far, you really should be proud of yourself.
Also, don’t forget to do your plank exercise and write down your time before drawing a big red “X” on the day.