For those of you who are not riders the concept of riding without stirrups may appear to be simple. But for riders it is a well known, anxiety inducing, torturous, and necessary ritual. The stirrupless rider must be able to balance on the moving horse without their feet in stirrups. They must not grip with their thighs or knees. For dressage the upper leg must hang like a noodle and the lower leg be on ready to give aids to the horse. So here are the rules:
- When you coach tells you he or she thinks you need some work without stirrups you smile and say “Yes”. Assuming you trust your coach and your horse, you know your coach has a good reason for asking you to do this and will explain that to you.
- Riding without stirrups is a test of core strength. Your core is what will keep you centered and in balance. If it needs strengthening then this can be achieved with some cross training and exercises off the horse.
- Remember to Breathe! You will need oxygen to ride without stirrups. Breathing is essential!
- Try to relax. Tension will not allow your horse to move well and you will get tired faster. You already know how to ride. Just focus on riding your horse and letting go of any stirrupless tension.
- Know when to stop. Your coach knows you have signed up for a session of stirrupless riding but they will also accept when you have had enough. If you say you have had enough they will not think you are wimping out. You cannot ride effectively if you are too tired or too sore.
So there you have it. Why did I bring this up? Because this week my coach Belinda Trussell said she thought my position would benefit from some no stirrups work. And yes, I followed all those rules I have just given you. The only thing I would add is if you are not a confident rider start doing no stirrups work on the lunge line. That way you can focus on yourself and not worry about what the horse is doing. Here is a short video of us trotting up the long side in shoulder in and and then bringing the trot up to 7 miles per hour on the centerline and more shoulder in. We stop due to Biasini answering a “call of nature”.