Five Rules for No Stirrups

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Remember to Breathe! You will need oxygen to ride without stirrups. Breathing is essential!
  4. 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.
  5. 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”.

Is it worth doing no stirrups work? I think it is. It certainly helps me. Tomorrow I will put up a post with some video from this lesson after I had taken my stirrups back.

16 Comments Add yours

  1. firnhyde says:

    I grew up riding my reliable but very hot pony mare all over my parent’s beautiful African farm. I was much too short to get my saddle up onto my mare’s back, and usually I was left to my own devices, so my logical solution was to just skip the saddle altogether. We would spend hours galloping through the veld, sticking on by the seat of my grubby jeans and a fistful of mane. I’m sure it was not particularly kind to my darling long-suffering pony’s back, but at least I was tiny, and it certainly led to plenty of balance and sheer stickability! I wish I could give my riding school kids that kind of education – no amount of correctness can ever really replace the strength, balance, and muscle memory built by all those hours in the veld.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. anne leueen says:

      This is a wonderful comment. When I was a kid I had a 15hh Mustang and I would go out to the paddock and vault on holding onto a lead shank attached to his halter. It didn’t matter if I fell off. I’m sure your pony enjoyed those gallops and there is not a shred of doubt in my mind that is what made you the rider you are today. My early years of doing crazy stuff has given me the stickability to stay on Biasini’s spooks. Thanks for your comment I enjoyed it very much.

      Like

  2. Whenever I rode out with my son we always took into account that his horse was going to stop at least 5 times to pee or poop at the start of the ride & then we were off, it was hilarious. I have ridden often no stirrups. I had a massive fear of getting my feet caught in stirrups, fear gives incredible strength. lol. Now if I do its jelly legs for days. You & Biasini look so good together.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. anne leueen says:

      Thank you for this comment. I understand the fear of getting caught in a stirrup. I have stirrups that will bend and release my foot if I come off.

      Liked by 3 people

  3. Emma Cownie says:

    Ah the reminder to breathe tells me that this must be really difficult to do (our yoga instructor used to tell us “breathe” when holding a difficult pose)!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. anne leueen says:

      It is similar in that when you are concentrating on the position in yoga and forget to breathe the benefits of the position are lost. When riding stirrupless if you don’t breathe you get tired very quickly and are not able to ride effectively.

      Liked by 3 people

  4. Judy says:

    All these years, I couldn’t understand why my horse and I were always at odds. I bought him for pleasure riding and to give him a safe home for his last years. I knew he was trained to second level dressage, but I didn’t understand what that meant, until now. I learned to ride bareback. No wonder I drove him nuts. 😀

    Liked by 3 people

    1. anne leueen says:

      Don’t be too hard on yourself. You were able to ride if you could ride bareback. He just may not have understood that he was not required to do more . I’m sure he was lucky to have been given a home with you.

      Liked by 3 people

  5. dprastka says:

    Oh drats, the no stirrup work outs! Not my fav but totally understand the usefulness! Lovely post and I love all the rules, very useful rules and may your seat improve with each ride! I admire your workouts, especially when I do such low key riding. I always enjoy your WONDERFUL videos too!! 🤠🐴❤️

    Liked by 2 people

    1. anne leueen says:

      Thank you Diana. I’m happy you enjoyed the videos. Thanks for letting me know.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Riding without stirrups- definitely not easy to do! I admire your ability to do that, especially on a horse like Biasini who has so much bounce and spring to his trot. I’d probably fly right off of him. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. anne leueen says:

      Well his trot does require that I let my hips relax and go with him. I don’t think you would fly off him however! Thanks for commenting!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Lesley says:

    I understand that this must take a lot of strength to ride without stirrups. Biasini pausing to poop made me laugh out loud. 😀

    Liked by 2 people

    1. anne leueen says:

      If ya gotta go ya gotta go! That’s how horses see it! Thanks for taking the time to comment. Glad you saw the humor!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Lesley says:

        Ah bless him – he might be a blog star, but there’s no vanity. x

        Liked by 2 people

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