Thursday, February 6, 2014


Riding without stirrups
Yep you heard me right!! riding without stirrups!! Why in GODS name would you attempt that?? Well that's exactly what was going through my mind the first time my instructor, Vincent Dempsey from Blackberry Stables Riding School decided that this was to be my next challenge. Supposedly Vincent swears by riding without stirrups in order to teach you balance and feel.

Well, as you can imagine taking away your stirrups gives you PLENTY of opportunities to practice your balance. Even just in walk the sensation of riding without the security of your stirrups is disconcerting enough without then kicking on to attempt trotting without stirrups!! 

For my pioneering plunge into riding without stirrups I was on Star and praying not to hit the deck as he has a really bumpy trot. I kicked Star on into trot and I had to hold him back from trotting too fast because if he started his 'lets trot at the speed of canter trick', I was a goner. However trying to get the balance between holding him back enough to keep a nice slow trot going and not pulling him back to walk, was a challenge. Not to mention the whole factor of also trying to balance to stay on-board in the first place due to having no stirrups!!!

Vincent shouts instructions from the side lines, all the while I'm trying to balance and look relaxed when that's the furthest thing from my mind and bodily reactions! Which are both obvious to Vincent my instructor, so he tells me to:
                - Stop gripping with your knees
                - Relax and breathe
                - Sit into the saddle 
                - Relax your legs down the side of the horse
                - Point your toes to the floor
                - Let the energy dissipate out through your tummy
                  (his did not make sense till after I got how to do it)

As with many other things with riding, this lesson was no different and was to take many many many attempts and practice before I could say I was in harmony and in timing with my horse. Star did not help matters by having a very bumpy stride and his fondness of taking off in trot, threw my balance off many a time (and still does - that's the mischievous Star for you) 

When riding without stirrups it is to be expected that your derriƩre will be in tatters.
The constant impact (as your more than likely doing it wrong) gives your rear a fare bashing.
So much so I genuinely think that I bruised my sitting bones
(however bruises do not actually show on your derriƩre - I've checked due to the pain caused)

Horse riding without stirrups should come with a warning.
My suggested warning would be:

Expect extended periods of standing post practice
We recommend the following product should you wish to continue your practice

This technique of riding without stirrups is one that I am told takes years to master to be fully in-tune and in harmony with your horse without gripping for dear life with your knees and hands (and anything that will help you to stay on!!)

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