Three critical things to remember during No-Stirrup November

Yank those stirrups off.

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Three critical things to remember during No-Stirrup November

As we delve into the month of November, lots of riders are taking on the challenge to drop their stirrups for the month. Some go so far as to taking their stirrups off of their saddles altogether.

Riding sans stirrups is integral to developing a good seat, correct feel, and instinct for what to do when things go wrong. I think jumping small fences without stirrups really shows you where your balance is in the air, and how you tend to lean left or right. You also never know when a tack malfunction could leave you stirrup-less on course, and if you’re brave like Maya Simmons, you’ll continue cross country without them!

But it is actually not a good idea to get rid of your stirrups for a whole month. You’ll make yourself and your horse sore and unhappy. Here are some ways to get the most out of No-Stirrup November.

1) Bounce less. You can’t learn to sit the trot well without spending quite a while doing it badly. Getting into rhythm with your horse takes practice, and you’ll do a lot of bouncing before you can look as smooth as Boyd Martin. With this in mind, don’t sit the trot for too long. Do a couple of circles sitting, get into the rhythm, and then do something else. If you work at it too hard you might make your horse’s back sore.

 


 

2) Double-check the saddle fit. Speaking of bouncing, before you just remove your stirrups, check that the saddle fits. If it’s pressing on the horse’s withers or elsewhere, your extra flopping and occasional unseated-ness won’t feel so great for your horse. It’s better to ride bareback than with a saddle that doesn’t fit.

3) Do it in moderation. The last thing someone wants to read in an article about No-Stirrup November is that they shouldn’t do it. But that is my recommendation. You are much better off spending one day per week or two weeks throughout the year without stirrups than a whole month without them. Look at it this way: in November, you will get in about 25 rides without stirrups if you ride almost every day. You could spend a day once every two weeks (which feels like nothing!) without stirrups and still get 25 rides without stirrups each year. The latter version will make you a better rider in the long run.

Think of your horse this November, and enjoy riding!

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