No-Stirrup November: Thoughts While Riding Without Stirrups

It’s November 1st. And while, to many, this signifies the beginning of the holiday season, equestrians know better. Forget “the most wonderful time of the year.” It’s really “the most painful time of the year.” This is No-Stirrup November.

To celebrate, here’s a revisit of a classic post: Thoughts While Riding Without Stirrups. Cheers, and pass the Advil.

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.

9 thoughts on “No-Stirrup November: Thoughts While Riding Without Stirrups

  1. ” dreaming of the sitting trot”. For you Hunt seat riders who have to post the trot without stirrups ( yipes!) It might be a nice dream but for a dressage rider like myself with a big moving warm mood the sitting trot is a reality and not a dream stirrups or no stirrups. I did a month of no stirrups in the summer and wrote a post about it . It is tough but just like everyone says it is worth it!

    Liked by 2 people

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