Working without stirrups is a great way to strengthen your muscles, perfect your posture, and develop a strong seat. Do you dread working without stirrups? Here are five ways to make your no-stirrup work more effective and improve yourself as a rider.
Work on Sitting the Trot
Start your no-stirrup work by sitting the trot. As you sit the trot, focus on lengthening your legs and wrapping them around your horse's sides. Make sure that you don't pinch with your knees, and focus on keeping yourself sitting up straight. If you find that your legs keep creeping upwards, then you're focusing too much on using your thigh muscle to hold yourself on. Try taking a deep breath and envisioning your legs touching each other underneath your horse's belly.
Work on Posting the Trot
Next, progress to posting the trot without stirrups. Use the horse's motion to help send you up into the post, and then work on returning softly to the saddle. Try not to hit your horse's back, and really use your legs and core muscles to support your descent. It's tempting to lean forward and even brace your hands on your horse's neck, but don't let yourself do this. Instead, think about keeping your shoulders back, your eyes up, and sitting tall in the saddle.
Work at the Canter
Once you've developed some strength in your legs and have improved your balance a bit, progress to cantering without stirrups. You'll find that you need to focus on keeping your legs long and down against your horse's sides. It's a great idea to work on picking up one stirrup at a time while you canter, since this skill can come in handy if you ever lose your stirrups.
Work in Two-Point
Your legs will ache, but working in two-point without stirrups can really help to strengthen your leg strength while also improving your balance. Your jumping position will naturally improve as you work on holding yourself in two-point without your stirrups to anchor you. If you find that your legs tend to swing backwards over fences, then working on your stirrupless two-point can help.
Work Over Fences
Have you developed your no-stirrup two-point? Then it's time to progress to jumping small fences. Being able to jump fences and maintain your position without stirrups is a great skill to have and can help to keep you on if things ever go wrong in the midst of a course.
Spending a bit of time working without stirrups each day can greatly improve your overall skill as a rider. What are some of your favorite no-stirrup exercises?
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