No-Stirrup November has arrived and countless riders are falling in line with the “no pain, no gain” mantra.
But many professionals are now pointing out that there’s a wrong way to do “No-Stirrup November” and better ways to implement the idea that don’t mean spending the entire month without your irons.
Going without stirrups can help improve balance and train a better position, but it can also encourage you to grip and actually exacerbate existing problems. It’s very important to ride without stirrups only once you already have a good seat and leg, or to do so with supervision so that your trainer can remind you to fix your mistakes. Making bad habits worse isn’t the goal!
More problematically, there are going to be many horses with sore backs this month… If you’re going to ride without stirrups (or without a saddle as some are now doing) consider that the “torture” is going to extend to your horse! As much as your legs are going to ache, your horse’s back may also ache. Unless your horse is used to long periods of work without stirrups and has the topline and correct posture to support you, going without your irons for prolonged periods may be harmful to your horse.
Let’s Try Something Different
So does this mean you shouldn’t participate this month? Well I am proposing we try something different this year… Let’s make this November a No-Crutch month instead.
Welcome to “No-Noseband November”.
Perhaps you have been using a gadget to keep your horse’s head down? This month, take it off and see what you can achieve without it. Or maybe you think your horse needs a gag bit… Well, today’s the day to go back to a simple snaffle! Is your ‘crutch’ a tight flash noseband? No-Noseband November alliterates better anyway!
Other things you could consider tossing out would be whips, spurs, martingales… Maybe this is the perfect excuse to try your horse bitless or, if you’re already bitless, bridleless!
Of course we know that not every piece of equipment is a ‘crutch’ and we don’t expect everyone to be competing bridleless next year! But let’s have fun with it – we need some fun this year! – and challenge ourselves and our training abilities.
This isn’t simply a rider challenge – it’s a horsemanship challenge.
See what you can achieve by tossing out something you’ve become reliant on and seeing how far you can go without it. You may be surprised! Share your “No-Noseband November” successes with us on Facebook and let us know how you’re getting on!