Trotting Without Stirrups

This is a post from my thread that I started when I got Max. I’m so lucky the forum is still around and I was able to go back and add it to Lipizzan Life.

Last week was all horseback riding for me. I rode so much that Max pretty much told me in his polite way to leave him the hell alone for the weekend. I rode so much that I even asked my coach if I could hop on my old lesson pony after I was done with Max so I could work two horses instead of just one. 

I had some money hiccups so I couldn’t have lessons all last week. It was all me figuring out this riding thing on my patient horsey. :cowboy:

Somewhere in the beginning of the week, I was riding around on Max with my coach in the arena on her dressage prospect, and I figured out how to post up in the saddle with my feet out of the stirrups. After giving it a few experimental strides, I asked my coach if she felt comfortable with me putting the stirrups up while she worked her horse. 
“Wellll have you done it before?” she asked hesitantly. 
“Yea! I’m doing it right now!” 
“Oh! Sure, go ahead!”

Followed by… an akward few minutes where I had no idea how to put the stirrups up. On the saddle? Surely not on his neck? Coach took pity on me and said it was his neck. 

Back in action! 


So much about balance and movement and relaxation made sense once I took the stirrups away. I learned how to not post so high. Whenever I post too high now with stirrups I know to just widen my hips and sink down around the horse. I had way better balance without stirrups than with them. With that improved balance, our lateral work “worked”. 

We’ve been having problems going to the right. No stirrups, GONE. Shoulder ins? Perfect. Circles? Perfect. Leg yields? …. ok well we are still training level here, but they happened! lol. 

Since the magic stirrup free moment I’ve been riding with them up and down so I can get the balanced feeling with them down. 

I’ve also, just in the last two rides, gotten the feeling of staying upright when the horse is bending. I was sort of leaning into/reaching toward the bend with my arm and shoulder. I really started feeling how keeping my body upright helps the horse feel more solid and balanced under me and creates a nice bend around my leg. This is all stuff my coach has told me, but it takes actual miles for that stuff to make any sense. 

Oh and that lesson pony! He has the choppiest little pony trot. Guess who sat it! Yea that’s right, me!!! Not that weird leaning forward bouncing sitting trot I was doing in the video, but a real sitting trot! (more real, since in another month I’ll probably be scoffing at my riding now, lol!) 

I started to canter the pony, but the reality of working two horses in one day hit my lower back right at that moment. It was ok though, I just wanted to make sure I could get through the transition without having an emotional melt down. I had a pretty traumatic experience as a kid, involving a herd of half wild donkeys and mules, bareback with no bridle, and spooking, and woods, and hooves all around my head… Cantering seems to bring that up. But not this time! I was ready to go! All the riding without stirrups and riding in general this week really improved my security in the saddle. I feel like I’m actually ready to do a real canter, not just a hold on and pray canter. 

So this upcoming week my coach is going to hop on Max and smooth out his canter and transitions for me, and then Max and I are going to go wheeeeee cantering. 


We’re making so much progress together. Shows are looking like a real possibility, not just a shiny image in my thought bubbles! 

It’s really weird because when the vet was out, she went to draw Max’s blood for a coggins test, and I was like…. ummm why? 

Coach and all the other girls were like “because we’re showing this season, silly! ANNDD going out to the mountains and to school at places!” 

I rolled my eyes “you guys have been saying that since I got here years ago, what’s different about this year?”

“No, really! We are really going to do it!”

“So if I pay for this test you guys promise we are going to be out with our horses and showing and stuff?”


“If you guys wimp out you owe me the money for this test!!!”

And now I’m the one out there riding every day and working towards showing and they areeeee…….. out swimming? I dunno! 

Oh and I found the perfect piece of music for our one day freestyle. I’m hoarding it to myself though. It’s a very hidden piece of music. I shared it with my coach and she was all sparkly eyed over it like I was.

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