• Erin Long

Why I Don't Do No Stirrup November

I realize this is probably a controversial topic (surprisingly) but hear me out. Being able to ride without stirrups and “get it done” is a skill EVERY rider should be striving for, for safety if nothing else. Having a strong leg and balanced, secure seat is useful in every single ridden discipline on the planet. 

However, I don’t support riders taking their stirrups off their saddle randomly for a month and trying to do everything they normally do, then pretty much not doing it much at all for the rest of the year. 

Nothing makes me cringe more than seeing riders ride around posting or two pointing for ages and ages. It teaches them to grip with their knees instead of riding from a balanced combination of their seat and legs. It teaches them imbalanced, “perched” seats, and in some cases makes them outright stop enjoying riding because they’re asked to do something not only difficult, but not all that productive. 

On top of that, the lack of preparation and suddenly demanding your body do something it isn’t ready for isn’t fair to your horse. He has to put up with your weird balance and gripping in all the wrong places and falling back in the saddle while you suddenly try to build strength you don’t have. He doesn’t deserve that, and I have seen horses become downright sour as a result during the month. 

No stirrups is one of those exercises that is excellent only in enough doses to teach you how and maintain that ability. Done properly (i.e. with an emphasis on a balanced and deep seat, and strengthening the legs evenly) it can be greatly beneficial to help the rider feel the movements of the horse, and ride using their entire leg and seat. But it HAS to be in small doses. Not just taking your stirrups off your saddle and hoping for the best.  Are you participating in No-Stirrup November? Does this change your opinion, or spark a thought? Comment below!

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