How Stirrupless Riding Improves Feel

Kick those feet out of your stirrups this November and see how stirrupless riding can help you become a stronger rider.

Fitness expert Kelly Altschwager explains the importance of riding without stirrups.

Stirrupless riding is a great way to incorporate strength training into your riding routine, but it can also improve your feel. When it’s time to drop your stirrups, how do you feel? Do you feel like you’re out of control because you no longer have your stirrups to help you stay balanced in the saddle, or do you thrive without your stirrups and find yourself better connecting with your horse? 

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

When you ride with your stirrups, chances are you ride a hair shorter so you can comfortably reach your stirrups and keep them on the ball of your foot, but when you drop your stirrups, your leg is going to automatically lengthen a bit. Take note on how this changes your riding ability. When you drape your body in the saddle do you sit deeper in your saddle? If you sink into your seat when you drop your stirrups, you’re going to be able to use your seat to help drive your horse forward more. 

When you let your legs drape you will sit deeper in your saddle and be able to tell if your legs stay underneath yourself. Jillian Sinclair

This also helps you feel where your leg rests against your horse. Do your legs slide forward and put you in a couch recliner position, or does removing your stirrups help your legs stay underneath yourself and create an athletic riding position? If you find your legs falling forward, now is the perfect time to work on pulling your leg back so your heel lines up with your hip and shoulder. 

[WATCH: Here are some lower-body exercises you can do at home or in the barn.]

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. 

Did you miss last week’s No-Stirrup November tip? Check it out here. 

[MORE FROM KELLY: Learn how you can prepare for all-day trail rides.]