Challenge Yourself To Ride Without Stirrups
No Stirrup November Challenge is all speed ahead! While the autumn chill makes our horses spookier than usual, this global challenge of riding without stirrups sounds very daunting. We get you! But if you are curious about No Stirrup November and planning to drop your stirrups for a while, we have some useful tips to help you get through safely and improve your riding skills without relying on your stirrups.
1. What is No Stirrup November and When Did It Start?
No Stirrup November is an equestrian movement that challenges riders to spend the month riding without stirrups. The origins of this movement trace back to the online horse community, where riders started encouraging each other to take on this challenge during the month of November. It has since gained popularity as a way to improve riders' balance, strength, and overall riding skills.
2. The Purpose of No Stirrup November
The primary purpose of No Stirrup November is to enhance the rider's skill set by focusing on balance, strength, and connection with the horse. Riding without stirrups encourages a deeper seat, better leg position, and increased overall awareness. It's not just about enduring a physical challenge; it's a commitment to improving your partnership with your horse without the safety of stirrups.
3. Benefits of the No Stirrup November Challenge
- Developing a Stronger Seat: Riding without stirrups engages the rider's core muscles, helping to develop a more secure and balanced seat.
- Improving Leg Position: Without the reliance on stirrups, riders can work on maintaining a correct leg position, allowing for clearer communication with the horse.
- Enhancing Feel and Connection: The challenge fosters a deeper connection with the horse, as riders learn to feel and respond to the horse's movements more intuitively.
- Building Confidence: Overcoming the initial difficulty of riding without stirrups instils confidence in riders, making them more resilient in the saddle.
- Refining Overall Riding Skills: The benefits extend beyond November, contributing to long-term improvements in riding technique, posture, and communication with the horse.
5 Tips To Ride Without Stirrups Successfully
Start Gradually: If you're new to riding without stirrups, ease into it gradually. Begin with short periods, and as your strength and balance improve, gradually extend the time. You can start dropping your stirrups at walk for a few minutes and extend the duration as you get more comfortable. Once you feel completely fine with riding a walk without stirrups, you can move on to trot and eventually to canter.
Focus on Form: Pay attention to your form and position. Riding without stirrups is an excellent opportunity to refine your posture, leg position, and overall alignment. Pay close attention to your leg position and lower leg stability. Make sure to keep a firm contact with your horse through your thighs and seat.
Incorporate Exercises: Include exercises such as posting trot, two-point position, and transitions to vary the challenge. These exercises help target specific muscle groups and enhance overall riding skills without the aid of stirrups. If you are a skilled dressage rider, try different exercises such as leg yields, half pass, pirouette etc. If you are a skilled hunter/jumper, try jumping without your stirrups. Make sure to start with lower obstacles until you develop your balance in jumping without stirrups.
Listen to Your Horse: Be mindful of your horse's well-being. If you are having balance problems and struggling with your seat without your stirrups, it might cause discomfort and pain to your horse. If you notice any signs of discomfort, give your horse breaks and talk to your trainer about the situation. Don't be afraid to seek help if you are not sure how to correct your balance.
Stay Consistent: Consistency is key to improvement. Aim for regular, shorter sessions rather than long and intense sessions. This approach allows for steady progress without straining yourself or your horse. If you are determined to improve your skills, you can take the challenge further and ride without stirrups regularly such as once a week throughout the year. To make it interesting, try different exercises each time.
Riding without stirrups is more than a challenge; it's an opportunity for riders to enhance their skills, strengthen their bond with their horse, and grow as equestrians. As you take on the challenge, remember to prioritize your horse's comfort, listen to your body, and celebrate the small victories along the way.