Saturday, November 8, 2014

No Stirrup November - Commence!

This is my first time doing No Stirrups November, but I've always thought riding stirrup-less for a month sounded like a great idea when I saw one of the boarders at my college barn doing it. (It was actually October though...I don't think No Stirrup November was a thing back then.)

So yesterday was the first chance I actually got to ride since October 31st. As I mentioned in my last post, it is now pitch black when I get to the barn after work, but I am not letting that deter me! (At least not until the ground freezes.) 

I had intended to ride on Tuesday, but I got to the barn later than I intended after going to the polls so I opted to lunge instead. Probably a wise decision anyway considering the impending stirrup-less ride. Maggie wasn't as energetic as I was expecting though, just one buck n' squeal the whole time. The darkness wasn't a big issue either, even though it was pretty cloudy that night.

I took the stirrups completely off of my dressage saddle - we're going all out here. 

Yeah, we're hardcore. 
I went to mount up in the ring and immediately looked like a fool because I didn't realize how hard it would be to get my leg over the high cantle of my dressage saddle without my stirrups to assist. I may have gotten a little stuck. And what makes it really embarrassing is the fact that Maggie is only 14 hh (how do you people with real horses even do this?!) Fortunately, thanks to the darkness, no one could see me making a fool of myself...

"What is this, 'No Stirrups'"?
Here are my specific NSN goals:
  • Keep Maggie relatively 'long and low', not hollow backed, to minimize any soreness I might cause bouncing around up there.
  • Focus on keeping my lower leg on her sides and wrapped around her barrel instead/ keep my knees off the saddle. We all know it's very enticing to grip with the knees when riding sans stirrups...
  • Keep my upper body relaxed and tall. I have a tendency (I think it's a pretty common tendency) to hunch forward and get tense in the arms and pull back when I lose my balance. I want to try and keep this from happening by keeping my core engaged, controlling my seat, and not using my hand for balance.

Last night was really nice - around 60 degrees and a clear sky so the moon was really bright. After a little walking to get moving, we started out in a nice stretched out trot. She went long and low right away which was really nice. I was pretty good about keeping my knees off the saddle and my lower leg on and I had to really concentrate of keeping contact with the outside rein. That was a really good thing for me to work on - outside leg and outside rein. Very basic, but very difficult. It was even more difficult tracking  right, which is Maggie's not as good side. She definitely has a harder time using herself correctly in that direction so I really had to focus on keepi her forward and low so didn't hollow her back. 

Today I'm actually not that sore, even though I was definitely feeling the burn while I was riding. Right now I'm just a tiny bit sore in the inner thighs and lower core. Off to a decent start, I think!

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