Monthy Challenge: No Stirrups November
November 1st. A day that strikes fear into the hearts of equestrians everywhere. Why? It's the kick off of No Stirrups November, the original of the monthly equestrian challenges, a month of being unabe to fully straighten your legs, accompainied by a persistent ache of your inner thighs. Honestly though, it's not all that bad. Regular work without stirrups is one of the best things you can do to strengthen your legs, improve your balance, and overall better your equitation. We all should be practicing riding without stirrups a little bit every week. No Stirrups November is just here to remind us.
So what's the best way to go about it? I do not recommend just ditching your stirrups for the whole month. Not only will this leave you in agony, but it'll do a number on your horse's back too, especially if the two of you aren't used to no stirrup work. Instead, start with a little at a time. Maybe at the end of your ride, do a lap without your stirrups. Start just at the walk, then the sitting trot, posting trot, even two-point trot without stirrups. Work yourself up to more laps, try a little canter, maybe even add in some jumps by the end of the month. Even if you are just riding an hour a week in a lesson program, a little will go a long way.
I do recommend either removing your stirrups completely or pulling the buckle on your stirrup leathers down and then crossing your irons in front of your saddle. These are the methods I find most comfortable not only for myself but my horse too. Need some inspiration? Check out Taylor St. Jacques winning ride in this year's Dover Saddlery/US Hunter Seat Medal Final: here. It was pretty spectacular...