PC: Mike Trimble.

No stirrup November has been circulating throughout barns since the beginning of the month. Dedicated horseback riders have dropped their stirrups in the hopes of conditioning their bodies. Riding without the support of stirrups can help you develop stronger legs, a deeper seat, better balance, and improved stamina. It’s not an easy task though! Here’s a few tips to make sure you’re ready to reap the rewards.

  • Safety first: Build up to extended time without stirrups. Be careful not to rush it.
  • Use the horn: If you need to grab the horn to stabilize yourself, don’t be afraid to.
  • Keep your legs down: Do not let your knees creep up on you. There should be a slight bend in your leg and your heels should stay down. Just as though you were riding with stirrups.
  • Try different exercises: You can experiment by jogging and loping without them. Other exercises include holding your legs away from the saddle, riding a pretend bicycle, and riding with one stirrup at a time.
  • Have your instructor lunge you: It’s much easier to focus on your position if you don’t have to worry about controlling the horse.
  • Consider your horse: Make this experience comfortable for him, as well. Ensure his back isn’t getting hollow or showing tension.

You can take the stirrups off of your western saddle or simply leave them dangling. Just make sure your horse won’t spook if they flap around on his sides. You should be feeling the burn in your legs and thighs. After only a few sessions, you’ll be noticing results!