No stirrup November is a popular thing done among equestrians of all ages and all disciplines. The simple rule is this: No stirrups are allowed to be used during the month of November. The goal of riding for this whole month without stirrups is essentially to give you a better seat, help your balance, and make you stronger. Though all of these things are good things, there are many things that aren’t so positive about dropping the stirrups in November.
In this guide, I will discuss all of the pros and cons of doing No-Stirrup-November…
Riding without stirrups for an entire month can be very beneficial to you and your riding ability. Some of the benefits many riders get from riding without stirrups include:
A Better Seat
- A better seat is earned through riding your horse as if you had stirrups. Stirrups make riding a lot easier so if you are able to ride without stirrups and stay balanced and centered, then riding with stirrups will be noticeably easier for you.
Stronger Legs and Core
- To earn a better seat and to stay balanced without stirrups to help you, you must get stronger. Riding engages both your legs and core and this engagement is increased when your stirrups are taken away. Because of this, no stirrups forces your body to work harder to stay on easier.
- Stirrups help you to balance because they give you a place to center yourself with your feet and let you use them to help support your body in proper position. Taking the stirrups off of your saddle is like taking the training wheels off of a bike, it forced you to balance.
- Riding in general is known to help improve posture. Sitting upright on a horse all the time helps to develop the habit of not slouching and having good posture all the time. I have noticed in some of my students already that their posture has greatly improved from the time they took their first lesson up until now. Removing your stirrups throws off your balance making you want to kind of bend over to hold onto the horse. This tests your posture and forces you to think more about sitting upright.
There are many pros to riding without stirrups, but many of these pros can only be enjoyed by professional riders. This is because amateur riders could begin to create a number of bad habits in their riding as they don’t have the proper training and riding experience to continue to ride properly without using stirrups.
Though there are many great pros to riding without stirrups, there are also some cons you need to be aware of before jumping into this November challenge. Some of the cons you should be aware of include:
Greater Risk of Falling
- Taking away a great aid in the rider’s balance can be a bad thing for sure! If you jump into riding and are cantering and trotting around without stirrups for the first time, the chances that you will take a tumble are a lot greater!
- Especially if it is your first time riding without stirrups, I would work your way up to moving faster over time. Dropping your stirrups throws off your balance as it is something that you rely on to keep your position in the saddle. Because of this, you should be working up to those faster gaits over time.
Stress on the Horse’s Back
- This is a big issue when it comes to riding your horse without stirrups. If you are riding your horse and you can’t ride the trot or canter easily without using stirrups, the constant weight of you bouncing and smacking down on the horse’s back can cause a great deal of stress and soreness for your horse.
- If you are thinking of participating in No Stirrup November, I would make sure that you are not going to be performing actions on your horse that result in a lot of bouncing and hitting on the horse’s back.
- Riding your horse with stirrups for a whole year and then suddenly switching to no stirrups can throw both you and your horse for a loop.
- You want to make sure that your riding is as consistent and predictable as possible so your horse can understand what you are asking and will respectfully obey what you ask of them.
- Rather than riding without stirrups for an entire month, try dropping your stirrups every lesson so your horse can know what to expect when no stirrups are being used.
Pinching the Knees Together on the Saddle
- If you are an amateur, No Stirrup November might not be for you. This is because this challenge can cause a lot of bad habits to form. One of these bad habits is holding onto the saddle with your knees rather than holding on and gripping with your lower leg.
Knowing the Pros and Cons of riding without stirrups is very important. Having reviewed these Pros and Cons, it should be easier for you to decide if you are ready and able to participate in this November challenge, or if you should just wait it out.