‘HN No-Stirrup Challenge’ Weekly Support Group: How are those legs feeling?

We’re one week into giving up stirrups for Lent–and everyone knows that the first week is the hardest.

Top photo: equestrianism-at-its-best.tumblr.com

How are you feeling?

Wait, let me guess:


While we can’t help you with your physical pain, we can remind you of Kelly Clarkson’s wise words, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” And, we can give you a forum in which to air your grievances and encourage your feats of strength.

In the coming weeks, we’ve got a lot of fun stuff coming your way to cheer you along on your painful yet oh-so-rewarding journey. Today, we’re going to start with some required reading from George Morris, the godfather of hunt seat equitation, who would probably take away everyone’s stirrups if he could.


A couple years ago, Mr. Morris penned a great Q&A for the Chronicle of the Horse titled “Ask the Experts: Why and how should we ride without stirrups?” In it, he explains the importance of riding sans irons. “The primary benefit is to develop your seat. Also, it improves what I call the ability to ‘stick’ to a horse. In the classical riding schools of Europe, riders were required to ride without stirrups for the first three years they were there.” He goes on to suggest specific exercises for riding without stirrups and outlines a plan for learning to jump without stirrups–we highly recommend reading the full article here.

Participants in last month’s 2013 George H. Morris Horsemastership Training Session were in for a treat when, on Day 4, George asked all the riders to remove their stirrups for the flatwork session. You can watch the no-stirrups sessions on demand here (group 1) and here (group 2).

What is George Morris’ point? A leg that can go in the show ring and do this:

Morgan Hale, of Odessa, Fla., performs the top-4 no-stirrups test at the 2009 ASPCA Maclay Finals.

Now, Horse Nation, it’s your turn to vent. How’s your no-stirrups work going? Have any advice for the rest of us? Tell us all about it in the comments section below.


Go Riding Without Stirrups!

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