Riding With No Stirrups? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 5 Old 10-09-2012, 04:43 PM Thread Starter
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Riding With No Stirrups?

I used to be great at riding with no stirrups; it came to me just about as easily as riding with stirrups. Then about a year or two ago I started riding a lot of greener horses and the focus became more on developing them and less on developing me. I enjoyed it and came a long way with some really great horses (not to mention learned a TON ), but somewhere in the midst of that I stopped practicing without stirrups. I tried to ride without stirrups again the other day and it was absolutely awful. I was unstable, out of practice, my legs were weak and I was bouncing all over the place. Horrible, right?

The thing is, over the past little while the issues I've been having with my feet have gotten progressively worse. The tendons in my legs are slightly shorter and much stiffer than they should be, thus making it difficult to flex my ankles and get my heels down. After I sprained my ankle several months ago it's gotten much worse.

As a result of this, when I ride with stirrups,if I want to get my heels down at all I have no choice but to brace against the stirrups and jam my heels down. If I don't my heels are not down at all and the stirrups slip all over the place. So because of the constant bracing I've gotten into the habit of using my stirrups for everything and essentially depending on them. I'm seeing a physiotherapist soon and while it will (hopefully) help my tendon/ankle issues it isn't going to fix my riding problem.

Other than the obvious practice-makes-perfect, are there any ways I can start riding comfortable without stirrups again while at the same time not depending on my stirrups when I do use them? Thanks!

-----In riding horses, we borrow freedom-----
~Love Life~
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post #2 of 5 Old 10-09-2012, 06:57 PM
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Are you using the same saddle that you used to? I am MUCH more comfortable and stay in a better position riding without stirrups in the saddle I just got (Mike Corcoran Merit) compared to the one I used to ride in (Wintec Pro Dressage). I didn't even bother putting stirrups on it during the trial period because it was so nice and I didn't want to find something to wrap my leathers with (except once after I was pretty sure I was keeping it, 'cause you've got to try everything out before you decide to buy it!)
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post #3 of 5 Old 10-09-2012, 07:50 PM
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How about doing exercises and stretches at home on a regular basis like standing balanced with you toes on a ledge/stair and then stretching your heels down or lunges. Anything to help stretch that tendon and loosen it up.
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post #4 of 5 Old 10-09-2012, 11:30 PM
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I do little stretches on any ledges/stairs I can find on an average day lol. Yoga also really helps, I find. It's not quite as forced workout as riding can be with posting and constant heels down. Obviously that's your end goal but it's helpful in a less painful way lol. In yoga you can find time to stretch and you can go farther as you get more flexible and more strength in your legs. I use the Jillian Michaels one but there's also rider orientated ones I think. Yoga generally is a good supplement to riding with the core and leg work. Also, stretch out before riding! I'm horrible with doing this but it does help.
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post #5 of 5 Old 10-11-2012, 06:26 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the replies everyone. :) I'm starting to do daily stretches now and it's ever so slowly starting to help; not like an immediate, magical fix but gradually I think I'll gain my flexibility back. Of course I still have the problem with bracing. It's just become a habit and now it's incredibly difficult to get rid of. :(

verona: I use multiple saddles, both then and now. I ride lesson horses (normally the ones I ride are future lesson horses, actually, but you get my point) so I don't choose the saddle. Unless, of course, I buy my own which would be quite pointless since I ride multiple horses. The pony I usually ride at the moment has a saddle that is worn down so much that the knee rolls are almost gone, which can't be helpful. But at the same time I rode in saddles just like that before too and I was perfectly fine without stirrups.

-----In riding horses, we borrow freedom-----
~Love Life~
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