Happy November 3rd! And welcome back to day number 3 in the No Stirrups November challenge! Did you ride yesterday? Did you do any no stirrup riding? If you were able to ride yesterday, or the day before, good job! You got in your very first no stirrups ride! Yay you! And if you didn’t, that’s ok, you have an entire month to get this done. So you, have time!
And to help you figure out what you are going to be doing, and how to have a plan for your riding, I have 3 more no stirrups exercises for you today!
But first, I wanted to share another awesome product with you, well 2 actually. Since some of the riding I am doing is at night, it’s getting cold when the sun goes down! So I have 2 different items that I wear to keep me warm when it’s chilly outside.
The first is a vest that I got from Riding Warehouse. I don’t think they have this anymore, but they do have many other brands of vests to choose from. I love this vest. It has pockets, and it is super warm, but allows me full range of motion of my arms, great for staying warm and being able to ride freely.
The second is a soft shell jacket, and I know they still have this! It gives just the right amount of warmth when it’s chilly outside, but not yet cold. It gives an added layer of warmth, but I don’t get too warm.
I will talk about what I wear to stay warm when I’m riding soon (I’m always cold) But if you have been searching for cold weather riding essentials, I highly encourage you to check out Riding Warehouse. They have lots of different and affordable options to keep you warm while you are riding.
Exercises to Practice Without Stirrups
Ok, now let’s talk about some different exercises you can do to keep your no stirrup work interesting!
Warm Up or Cool Down Without Stirrups
This one is pretty simple. When you start or end your ride, do it without your stirrups. And do this mindfully. Really pay attention to what your legs are doing as you walk around the arena. Pay attention to your seat, and how your body moves with your horse as he walks. Focus on keeping your legs secure against his sides with your calf muscles. Continue reaching toward the ground with your heels as you are doing this. And be sure not to grip with your knees.
Relax your legs down and stretch them down as far as you can while keeping your heels down. Hopefully you will feel the connection of your legs to your horse.
As you are concentrating on your legs, and seat, be sure to keep light contact with your reins as you continue to feel your horse move forward.
I really like to do this for my cool down. It gives me the time to really concentrate on my legs and relax a bit as we slow down. This also helps me to end the ride on a positive note. I always do that – end the ride on something good that Plezant has done.
I also give him lots of love as we walk around the arena.
Walk A Serpentine
This may sound easy, but it can be a little challenging! And not only will this help you, but it will help your horse as well. The goal is to walk a serpentine from one end of the arena to the other.
Do you know what a serpentine is? Instead of going in circles in your arena, you start at one end and make long straight line followed by a turn at the long side of the arena. By doing serpentines, you will work on turning your horse in both directions multiple times in one exercise. It is really fun to do!
As you are doing your serpentine, when you get to the turns, work on using your legs and seat to bend your horse around your leg for the turn. You don’t want to pull on the reins though. The reins should just help to gather the energy from the hind end as you make your turn. This in turn will help to propel him forward, and then bend around your leg.
Practice this from one end of the arena, and then repeat the process starting at the other end. If you can do this precisely you will be amazed at how much it helps with your general riding! So practice, practice, practice!
2 Point Without Stirrups
Ok, are you ready to feel the burn? This exercise will make that happen! The goal is to ride in a 2 point position one lap around your arena. I know, this is HARD. And you may not be able to complete it in one session. But start small, and build on that. Make a goal to ride one side of the arena in 2 point, take a break on the next side of the arena, and then 2 point again, and then rest again. Repeat this exercise until you can make one full complete revolution around the arena at the walk. And once you can do it at the walk, next try it at the trot.
This is not something to try all at one time. Build this exercise over time and I promise you – your legs will get STRONG! If you want a secure leg that doesn’t move, practice this exercise, it really helps!
The only thing that makes this hard, well the biggest thing, is trying NOT to grip with your knees. I still have a problem with this. I don’t know about you, but I find it impossible not to use my knees when I’m trying to 2 point without my stirrups.
3 Exercises to Practice Without Stirrups
All right there are 3 more exercises for you to practice during No Stirrups November. And one thing I wanted to mention is for me, I do a lot of my no stirrup work at the walk because it works for me. If you feel so inclined to do these exercises at the trot, or canter do it! But again, to get the most out of theses exercises you have to practice them regularly, and build them up over time. I have found that it is better to practice for small periods of time. Also to feel more successful with my rides I limit them. Like my September challenge month where I rode 3 times a week. That was pushing it. That was a lot of riding. But for November and doing around 10 rides for the month I look forward to each ride and the time that I spend with my horse. So I try to remember to focus on the quality of the ride instead of the quantity. I have to remind myself, this is not a race! One step at a time, and one ride at a time!