So this is the third year in a row that I have participated in a No Stirrups November. It is also the first year that I have taken on the task of hosting my Own No Stirrups challenge! If this is the first time you have heard of this, check out this blog post. And if you want to join in on the challenge – there is still time! You can join me until November 7,2021! I will be your personal cheerleader offering you encouragement, along with a pretty ribbon at the end of the challenge. So go sign up!
And if you are considering it but aren’t quite sure about the benefits of no stirrup work, let me give you a few of the benefits!
And because this month is focusing around the Budget Equestrian No Stirrup November Challenge, I have a new product to spotlight for you!
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American Equus Stirrups
I thought it would be appropriate to share these stirrups with you today. These are the American Equus Stirrups, and I love them! Not only are they truly beautiful, but they are very functional too.
I bought these a few months ago, and I cannot find anything negative about them. These are the E’lan stirrups in Chrome. They are beautiful aren’t they?
These stirrups are engineered for performance. The stirrups have ergonomically designed branches that naturally contour your legs around the barrel of the horse which help to relieve knee, ankle and foot pressure. And they even have a patented traction pin system that secures your foot and provides an incredible connection to the base of the stirrup.
It has a wide based foot bed the helps you to achieve optimum balance while absorbing concussion to the ball of your foot. This redistribution of weight across the whole foot can also help you to have a more correct seat position in the saddle. How cool is that?!?!?
And they are also made with safety in mind. The stirrups are made from aircraft aluminum which provides an incredible with a 3000 lb per square inch lateral crush strength which offers protection for your feet against possible injury in the event of an accident.
I am so glad that I bought these stirrups, they were definitely worth the investment!
Ok, let’s get back to the benefits of no stirrup work shall we?
The Benefits of Riding Without Stirrups
One thing to keep in mind is that you don’t just have to do this in November. No. Practicing without your stirrups regularly can really help your riding. But you need to go about this the right way. You need to truly assess your level of skill, and practice accordingly. You don’t want to set yourself up for an injury because you decided to go all in and remove your stirrups from your saddle. It is better to start slow and build over time. When you do this you will get stronger, and more balanced as well as more confident in your abilities.
And you can continue to do a little bit of no stirrup work every time you ride – not just in November. Then when you need to focus on no stirrup riding for only 10 rides – you will be golden! It will be super easy for you. Remember, it is all about establishing habits and working on improvement. And if you work at this a little bit every time you ride, it will be easier and easier. And your leg position will get better and better!
Improved Leg Position
I’m sure you have seen the riders that their lower leg is like stuck to their horse’s sides. They are perfect! Their legs do not move through any transition of gaits, or whatever they are doing. They appear to be permanently fixed, and never move. This is what I want my lower leg to be like. #goals
It is pure perfection to watch a rider like this. And getting to this point can be encouraged by riding without stirrups. The balance comes first as well as control of the legs. And when you are riding without stirrups, you are actively using the muscles in a different way than you do with your stirrups.
Improved Core Muscles
When you ride without stirrups, not only do you improve your leg strength, but you improve your abdominal muscles, as well as your back. These are your core muscles, or the muscles in the middle (or core) of your body.
Think of your spine, this is the core of your body right? And the core muscles you use while riding are in your belly, mid and lower back as well as your upper back and shoulders, and the muscles of your hips. All the central portion of your body is basically your core.
I can give you a good example of helping gain muscle strength, and improving an area from horseback riding, your hip flexors. Off and on I have had pain in my outer hip area. And at first, I thought maybe I had arthritis. Thankfully, I didn’t. But my hip flexors were weak and aggravated. Especially on my right side for some reason.
I got some exercises to do, and the pain got better. But then about 6 months later, it came back. I printed out the exercises again, but I also started riding more. So by riding, I have been able to improve the strength of my hips! I would have never known unless I was having pain in the first place.
But this is just one example. Riding without stirrups helps you to engage all of your core muscles. And if you haven’t done this before, start slow and build up the time you ride without stirrups. Interval training works great!
When you don’t have your stirrups to rely on, your body compensates by getting balanced. And if you are in a balanced seat, it will be easier for you to go with the rhythm of your horse.
From a walk, trot, and even canter you can be balanced on your horse all without the security of your stirrups.
If you have never ridden without stirrups give it a try! You don’t have to get fancy and cross your stirrups just yet. Simply kick your feet out of the stirrups and take a lap or two around the ring without your stirrups. Just to see what it feels like. You might find that you like it.
Pay attention to how your body changes to compensate when you no longer have your stirrups to rely on. And yes, you can do this in western tack too!
This is one of the best benefits I have gotten from my no stirrup work – how much longer I can ride. Like I said earlier, the more you practice the better you get. This applies to everything in life actually. But you can really see a difference in your riding by working sans stirrups. Especially when you first start. Try something like a 2 point position without your stirrups, and see how far you can go around your arena before your legs start shaking, and you start breathing heavier. Then, after practicing these exercises for a week or two, see how far you can go in 2 point again.
I am certain it will be further! This is where I push myself to go a little bit further every time. Feel the burn I tell myself as I try to maintain my position around the arena.
The Benefits of Riding Without Stirrups
These are just a few of the benefits of no stirrup work that I have noticed. There are many, many more too. But for leveling up my riding as well as my confidence, these are the areas I see the biggest benefit.
What about you? What are the benefits of no stirrup work that you have noticed?