November is here, and you know what that means! It’s time for no stirrups! Riding without stirrups can help you develop your independent seat. In this video, I’m riding Mercurio and talking all about how to ride without stirrups and why it is helpful.
But, before we get into the video, I have a quick announcement to make! This month, I’m doing a fun #nostirrupsnovember challenge inside Amelia’s Dressage Club, my private Facebook Group. We have a positive and supportive community of riders, and we’d love to have you join us inside the group for the challenge. To enter, simply join us in Amelia’s Dressage Club, post a photo or video of you riding without stirrups with the hashtag “#nostirrupsnovember” and let us know a little bit about what you felt when you were riding without stirrups. The winner will be announced at the end of November and receive a Kastel Denmark sun shirt with my logo!
Okay, now back to the video. Riding without stirrups is a great exercise to help develop your independent seat because when you ride without stirrups, 100% of your weight goes into your seat, and there’s nothing to brace against! This causes all of the correct riding muscles (like your transverse abdominals and glute meds) to fire to keep you stable and moving with your horse.
Before you ride without stirrups, make sure that you have a safe horse, and that you warm your horse up a bit before you drop your stirrups. When you are ready to ride without your stirrups, cross them in front of your saddle so that they are out of the way.
Riding without stirrups is hard and a skill you must develop. Eventually, you want to be able to ride in both directions and at all three gaits. Here are a few tips for riding without stirrups:
- Start out at the walk, and then progress up to the trot and canter as you feel comfortable.
- When you first drop your stirrups, do a few slow and controlled ankle circles in both directions and try scissor legs – alternating your legs forward and back. Make sure that your seat moves with your horse when you do these exercises.
- Go up to trot and focus on keeping your leg quiet and long, with your toes pointing up and forward, just like you would when you ride with stirrups. Make sure that your seat is moving with your horse, and that you can soften your hands without your position changing.
- If you get tired, take a walk break. Focus on quality over quantity when riding without stirrups, and give yourself a break before you feel your position fall apart.
Riding without stirrups just for five to ten minutes a couple of times per week is plenty to work on developing your independent seat. After you finish riding without stirrups, notice any differences you feel when you take your stirrups back. You want to try to keep the same feeling in your seat that you had without stirrups as you continue your ride with stirrups!
Watch the video where I talk more about riding without stirrups on Mercurio! I hope these tips help you with your horse!
P.S. Don’t forget to join us in Amelia’s Dressage Club for the #nostirrupsnovember challenge!