Last summer my coach Belinda Trussell had me doing no stirrups work in my lessons. I posted about it then. This past week, in the first lesson after the horse show, she told me we would focus on the trot work. With no stirrups! “It will be short but intensive,” she said. Well, when you train with an Olympian you know that her version of short may be different from yours. We did 35 minutes of sitting trot. I’m not talking about the easy jog trot of a Western horse. Biasini has the big and bold trot of a German Warmblood horse. Sitting that trot with no stirrups is hard work. But when you train with an Olympian you do not question you just say “yes” and get on with it.
The next day we did canter work with no stirrups. Collected canter and canter pirouettes. Also 6 meter circles in canter! This was very enlightening for me. For these very small circles the horse must be bent but straight on the circle line. No haunches swinging in or shoulders falling in. My most common problem when riding the pirouettes especially to the right is that Biasini falls in toward the center of the pirouette circle. When riding these small 6 meter circles Belinda would tell me to use my inside leg to keep him on the circle line and not falling in.
So why did Belinda want me to ride without stirrups?
When riding without stirrups I am much more aware of exactly where my legs are particularly my lower leg. Belinda wants the lower leg ( knee to ankle) to be on the sides of the horse, feeling his skin as it were. Then for more elevation or more impulsion bring in the ankle and give a quick push. This is just using the inside of the ankle. Turning the toe out and giving a “tick” with the spur is a different aid. When unencumbered by stirrups it is much easier for me to get a feel for this separation of the parts of the lower leg and to use them more effectively.
So once again is it Curse or is it Cure? Definitely Cure! However I went for a hot bath with Epsom Salts both nights after those lessons!
Below is the link to the original post from last year which gives some of my history with no stirrups work.