Thoughts while Riding without Stirrups

The call comes from your instructor (or maybe you’re just really masochistic motivated): “drop your irons.”

And at first you’re like: okay, I got this. Yeah. I’m awesome! I’m so strong and balanced!

Half a lap around the arena you’re like,

By now your legs are really burning. Maybe your instructor is giggling gleefully in the middle of the ring while kindly reminding you to keep your shoulders back, breathe and keep your heels down, dang it.

First lap complete!

You realize that you’re in this for the long haul now, and you start thinking of all those photos and videos of top riders making amazing saves or jumping with one stirrup (or none) like it’s no big thing. So you’re like, you know what, self? You are getting so strong. Your legs are made of iron. You can do this all. day. long.

So that mentality lasts all of two laps around the arena. You are basically losing feeling in your legs by now as you dig deep to try not to flop uselessly on your horse’s back. Your can see the other victims riders wilting. And you’re like,

You find yourself dreaming of the sitting trot. Or a nice, leisurely walk break. It’s been at least 45 minutes of this work. Oh, okay, 20. At least ten minutes. Fine. It’s been like five minutes, and you already know there will be no walking tomorrow without the signature wide-legged stiff wobble. But there’s so much more to come. After all, you have to go both directions! And canter. And post with just one stirrup…and then just the other so that you work both sides of your body equally.

And finally when you get to stop, it’s like,

And when you get off after your ride, you can’t really feel your legs any more, so you’re like,


(Forgive the brief profanity.)

But in the end, it’s always worth it. Because that’s what riding is all about. Hard work, sweat, and a touch of insanity. Okay, fine. Maybe a little more than a touch.

What goes through your mind while riding without stirrups?

*Confession: the author purposefully published this blog after her weekly riding lesson so she didn’t give her instructor any funny ideas about no-stirrup work.

6 thoughts on “Thoughts while Riding without Stirrups

  1. “Crap!” that’s what first goes through my mind. Then about 30 seconds in I’m like, “I’m really good at this posting without stirrups. This isn’t that hard. Let’s get a judge in here and see how beautifully I equitate.” Then at the one minute mark I’m thinking, “It’s time for sitting trot. It’s time for sitting trot. I’m dying here. Shouldn’t we just practice the sitting trot?” And then somehow, miraculously the trainer will ask for a sitting trot and then it’s all better. Until 30 more seconds pass and it’s like, “I’m dying here. Isn’t it time for a water break?”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I nearly sprayed coffee all over my screen. This is the funniest thing I’ve read in a loooong time!
    I grew up riding bareback, so I still have the knack of no stirrups, and while after a few laps it does start to burn like nobody’s business I so enjoy the look on unfamiliar instructor’s faces when they go “Drop your irons” (thinking, Ha! let’s catch out this backwoods bronc-buster) and I cruise onwards like a boss. (What they don’t know is how often I practice…)


  3. I typically start out all sassy and full of myself. A few laps around and I start negotiating with the horse, “please be smoother” etc. By the end I just am relieved I don’t have to run or workout that night–cause my legs will be DONE!

    Liked by 1 person

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