View Full Version : Riding withour Stirrups. Beneficial

20-01-08, 11:31 PM
Do any of you ride without stirrups?

If so, how often??

Does it benefit you and your riding in any way?

I would be interested to see and thanks.

21-01-08, 12:15 AM
Kartika I can't count the number of hours I did in the arena with an instructor (a very tough old stick type lady who was very 'old school' dressage lady and did hacking too) when I was a kid without stirrups to develop an independant seat, be a balanced rider etc etc. Had to do 'no hands' as well (aeroplane style) for the same reason.

I recall her doing the coins or $1 notes (yep they did used to exist) at your knees thing too.

For better or worse, the only time I ride without stirrups these days is to stretch my legs and give my ankles or kness some relief on long rides.
I also know that I need to invest some time into the 'me' part of the deal again, unfortunately I definitely am nowhere near as balanced a rider as I used to be, it only takes a fast bareback ride to tell me that. :)

21-01-08, 01:27 AM
same for me as craemma.

For me I think that out of all the excercises i did as a beginner riding without hands/stirrups was the most beneficial. I learned to do most things without stirrups at least, including jumping.
I also had the $ note to keep the leg on thing.

Now I still go back to riding without stirrups when i feel particularily stiff, or unbalanced, or if Bobby is misbehaving, because it allows me to feel deeper in the seat.

My new instructor though is not a fan of it, he beleives that once you know how to ride well enough to do the basics you should not need to do it for a prolonged amount time because you will never compete (intentionally) without stirrups. So that just means i ride without stirrups when he's not around ;)

21-01-08, 01:37 AM
Hi, I remember being Lunged around and around no stirrups and no reins, it gave me a good seat though, the old Mare that I rode was a beautiful old Sydney Royal winning schoolmaster and just put up with my being so unbalanced to start, when My daughter gets to that point confidence wise I intend on doing the same with her as I beleive it teaches brilliant balance.


21-01-08, 01:40 AM
I find riding without stirrups very beneficial when I'm feeling stiff or unbalanced for some reason. I find it particularly hard to keep my position upright & balanced when I haven't ridden for a while and am fairly unfit (which is quite common this time of year!!) so I find dropping my stirrups for as long as I can handle it helps deepen my seat, allows me to stretch down through the heel and encourages you to keep your upper body in the correct position. Seeing as though I don't have anyone who can yell at me when I'm sitting like a sack of *%!$ riding without stirrups really helps. I did a clinic with Paula Price a few years back & at the time I couldn't sit trot to save myself... I spent one lesson ridding without stirrups doing 6-7 different exercises at the walk & trot. The exercises are designed to help you develop an independent and deep seat and by the end of the lesson I was allows to have my stirrups back and it was amazing sit trot was easy!! Paula told me at the time to try & do some of the exercises without stirrups every time I ride... Lets just say I used to do them for a while however now only go back to them when needed. I find it easier to ride some movements without stirrups sometimes...

21-01-08, 02:39 AM
I haven't been riding much at all for the past few years but if all goes to plan I'll finally start riding/training regularly again later this year once our arena's finished, my boy's had tramiel injections for his problematic hocks and my very unfit old body is back in some semblance of a decent shape again. And when I do, the first thing I'm going to do is to start regularly riding without stirrups.

I'm a huge fan of Alois Podhasky's book "The complete training of horse and rider", and I must have read it cover to cover dozens of times over the years since I was a young kid, including the part where he talks about the bereiters at the Spanish Riding School needing to train for something like 2 hours per day without stirrups for their first two years or so at the 'school'.

So I used to do that myself for at least 1 hour per day too when I was riding full time years ago and it was incredibly good for my position, balance and seat. I actually LOVE riding without stirrups whenever I get the chance these days because of all the time I spent doing it years ago, and I think I'd probably rather ride without stirrups than with them a lot of the time, especially at sitting trot. I can feel myself grip that bit whenever I do sitting trot with stirrups on but I don't have the same problem without them.


mayville lodge
21-01-08, 05:47 AM
I was the same Kelly, did so much riding without stirrups when I was younger (quite a while ago now) that I actually find it easier. If I'm doing a dressage test or a competition and I lose a stirrup people comment that there was absolutely no change in my riding, when really I wish I could throw both of them away.

Suzie Q
21-01-08, 07:04 AM
Yes I have done the lunging without stirrups as well as the jumping without reins.

I don't really ride without stirrups now. You need a horse that is muscled over the back. I think me riding without stirrups would be punishment to the horse!

21-01-08, 07:11 AM
Yeah, how hard prolonged sitting trot/riding without stirrups is on the horse's back over long periods of time always worries me, too. I always thought it would be great to have some huge great draught cross to practice without stirrups on, something big and strong enough that it wouldn't find it too hard on their back.

Suzie Q
21-01-08, 07:18 AM
The horse I have seen being used at the local vaulter club is actually a Pre St George Dressage horse. I would say he would have oodles of muscle!!!

21-01-08, 07:25 AM
Yes I have ridden occasionally without the support of stirrups.
Riding without stirrups is beneficial if there is no tension through the riders hips and upper thigh.

As a training EFA Level 1 Coach, I have come across a few people who think removing the stirrups will produce a longer leg and better seat. But the rider needs to be relaxed and balanced in the seat to avoid the tension grip with the legs, especially on a horse that does not have steady even paces. Holding onto the monkey grip helps an unsteady rider to pull themselves deeper into the saddle when training without stirrups on the lunge. But trotting free around the arena can cause the rider to take more on the reins for balance.
It does not always suit some horses to have a rider struggling to balance without stirrups, so used for the right reasons it is of great benefit.

21-01-08, 07:32 AM

Your post made me laugh because I did some 'unintentional' stirrup-less riding today! The horse shied and I lost both stirrups and so he took off tried to buck me off. I say 'tried' because I managed to subdue said bronco and keep my bones unbroken in the process. So long live those insane bastard instructors that made me jump bareback!!

21-01-08, 07:55 AM
here here.

If thoughts could kill my first teacher would have turned to charcoal.

couldnt walk a staight line for days after one of his "lessons"

but learning to ride no stirrups no reins is the best grounding you can have.

year later too many to want to think about it, had a stirrup leather come off at a gallop when my horse stumbled.
and i mean fallen to the ground sliding on both knees.

didnt come off and still there as he somehow flicked a hind out in front and rose from it still at the gallop even if slowed to half speed by the near fall.

amazing save.

the stirrup was still dangling from my foot so rescued it and replaced after we stopped. so his drilling about toes up even when confronted by that was still there.

even now i can tel a kid, drop your toes, now pull them up and feel the difference in your seat.

Suzie Q
21-01-08, 08:02 AM
Yes I had a stirrup iron snap in half at gallop. Yep stainless steel.

It went down and speared Peppy in the heel.

I didn't come off either.

21-01-08, 08:09 AM
I have been riding without stirrups recently, i have found that it has helped improve my balance, and it has helped me to relax a lot more, and Im not balancing in the stirrups like i tend to do which causes me to grip with my thighs and causes my horse to become tense, as a result of me being more relaxed (and properly balanced) my horse is going a lot better.
Stirrup irons and leathers can be annoying things! i had a stirrup leather snap on me whilst i was cantering, lost my balance a bit, but managed to stay on... lol


21-01-08, 08:52 AM
I frequently ride without stirrups, or leathers, or a saddle, or blankets.. sometimes without a bridle and yep! it really does wonders for balance :)
To the point where a saddle just feels like an unnatural hinderance when you go back. Highly recommend it. And, increases your stickability too, funny that ;)

21-01-08, 09:02 AM
I often ride bareback or with out stirrups to give me balance and a feel for my horse. Keeps me warm in winter time too.


21-01-08, 09:07 AM
I hate the suds and hair in summer, UGH

21-01-08, 12:08 PM
I get my daughter to ride bareback on the lunge to improve her balance without her being able to hang onto the horses mouth. She does a small amount of work with no stirrups while riding free, but only a few minutes at a time.

21-01-08, 12:20 PM

I hate it but it's good for me :(

Jumping without stirrups is awesome for balance !!!

21-01-08, 01:09 PM
I think there is a lot of difference between riding without stirrups and being lunged without reins or stirrups.

I'm all for people getting lessons on the lunge and developing their independent seat and hands.

But riding without stirrups on your own can lead to riding errors like gripping with the knee or lifting one shoulder higher than the other and collapsing the hip.

21-01-08, 03:26 PM
I rode quite a bit without stirrups when I hadn't ridden for quite a while, to get me back into the groove of pretending I have long legs. I found with stirrups I was unintentionally doing all sorts of silly things I never used to do, so I ditched them for a while.

I also did alot of on the lunge things as a kid and vaulting. I found the vaulting very beneficial for balance and "length" of leg. Man now I miss vaulting.


Dare - dare to keep all your love alive
Dare to be all you can be
Dare - 'cause there is a place where dreams survive
And it's calling you on to victory

A Vertue
22-01-08, 12:51 AM
Hi Kartika66,

I ride without stirrups occasionally to check whether I am balanced and my seat is independent. Another good way of checking your riding is to tie baling twine to the front dees on your saddle and hook your pinky fingers in it when you ride - this means everytime your hands move to much - you know about it. Also I tie my stirrups to my girth every now and then to help me remember to keep my legs still. I find it really works and makes you realise your weak points.

22-01-08, 12:57 AM
Great replies. Thank you everyone.

Why is it, I wonder, that my lateral work is oh so much better without stirrups?? Communication between me and my horse is clearer and easier.

Anyone else find this is so??

Is it because I can place my leg exactly where I need to without the confines of the stirrup or am I just a terrible rider??

Suzie Q
22-01-08, 01:05 AM
I can't tell without seeing you Kartika, but maybe it is because you are sitting 'on your bum' without stirrups.

So next time with stirrups, just think 'sit on your bum and lift your hands' and see if it is any easier.

A Vertue
22-01-08, 01:27 AM
A great aid I just learnt is finding your "balance point". You should be able to place your hand flat on your horses bum. If you cant, you're too far forward, if you can put you're elbow there you're too far back. Then just let the legs drape around the horse. - This helps you find that spot where you are "sitting on your bum" and everything is more stable.

22-01-08, 01:35 AM
When we were kids in the 60s and early 70s, there was a LOT of work without stirrups... jumping schools, dressage schools, pony club - there always seemed to be a session of, 'fold your stirrups over and we'll work on riding without stirrups'. It was just always done. My aunt had us on the lunge rein for a session or two every week - no stirrups or reins - walk, trot (sitting AND rising), canter, over jumps, over LARGE jumps; hands in correct position, hands out by our sides, hands over our heads, arms windmilling but legs and feet ALWAYS in the correct position. Knees against the saddle, heels down, toes-to-nose (as in toes pointing straight ahead: closer to pointing to the horse's nose than pointing out like a duck) - not a position that can be mantained when doing dressage with spurs but for kids back then who never wore spurs it was important and I can still hear Aunt Carol reminding us, "Heels down, toeses to noses"

That rising to the trot without stirrups was murder - that sure took some gripping of the knees, and I still do it occasionally. Why? Just because.

I think the best 'work without stirrups' was on the lunge rein without the reins as it developed an independent seat that did not cause any 'grabbing at the reins'- a big problem with doing it by yourself. It taught you to 'move those hips' with the movement of the horse because you didn't have the stirrups to push down into, it had to be from the seat. It did cause a problem of keeping your feet in stirrups when you went back to sitting trot with stirrups - it was so easy to do sitting trot without them because all your weight was into your seat, but with them you had to keep some weight in the stirrups and that threw your balance out a bit.

Leanne O.