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Are Your Stirrups Babysitting You?

Dropping your stirrups is a great way to find out if you rely on your stirrups for support instead of your legs, core, balance, and strength.
Kelly Altschwager riding a reining horse at a walk.

Do you rely on your stirrups to keep you balanced in the saddle? See how you can troubleshoot your strength in the saddle this No-Stirrup November. 

When you drop your stirrups, it helps you evaluate your riding and troubleshoot where you're cheating yourself in the saddle, and how you're getting in your horse's way. With that information you can incorporate exercises in and out of the saddle to help you gain strength and balance. 

[MORE: Are you straining or strengthening your body at the barn?]

Troubleshoot Your Riding

To kick of No-Stirrup November, drop your stirrups at a walk or jog, whatever you can safely do, and really take focus on what your body is doing. Are your stirrups babysitting your balance? Do you feel your self leaning one way or the other? Are you struggling to stay upright in the saddle and hunch the minute your stirrups are taken away? Do you lean too far forward or backward? Listen to what your body is trying to tell you. 

If you're comfortable doing so, close your eyes for a minute while walking your horse and take note of any changes you notice in your body. These changes might differ from what happens when your eyes are open. 

Once you troubleshoot your riding and know where you rely on your stirrups for support you can start to create a strength and conditioning program to include into your riding, and exercise, routine. 

[WATCH: See Kelly's favorite bodyweight lower-body exercises in her Horse&Rider OnDemand series.]

Gain Muscle Strength

To gain muscle strength and improve balance try incorporating a few exercises that are designed to help strengthen your lower body and core. Exercises like Bulgarian split squats, lunges, squats, single-leg hip thrusters, and glute bridges will all help you gain strength in your lower legs. 

[JOIN OUR CHALLENGE: Participate in our No-Stirrup November challenge.]

This No-Stirrup November we're bringing you weekly tips from fitness expert Kelly Altschwager of Western Workouts. Keep an eye out for next week's fitness tip where we go over some exercises you can do in the saddle to strengthen your legs and core and improve on overall balance. 

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