Improving My Riding #NoStirrupsNovember
I started taking riding lessons and polo lessons in March/April and unfortunately due to my job and lifestyle my riding is very sporadic, so I will do 3-4 or even 5 lessons in a week, but then 3 weeks will go by with #FlyingForALiving with no equestrian contact whatsoever! I do my bit at the gym (kinda) regularly to keep my muscles strong and my ligaments flexible with some fitness for polo, but there really is no substitute to time in the saddle.
After almost 6 weeks of no riding I finally had some downtime (well actually on duty time, but with no flights) so it was time to get back in the saddle for real. I booked lessons the whole week and to my initial dismay (but later joy) it was November, which if you are part of the equestrian community online means #NoStirrupsNovember. Last time I rode without stirrups, was in May and I fell off the horse (for the first time) so to say that I was a little anxious is an understatement.
Anyways, my teacher reassured me it would be fine and he clipped the lunge rope on Inka. The benefit of using a lunge rope was that I didn’t need to worry about “steering” the horse and could focus on my seat and grip. We walked, trotted and cantered in circles for about 20 minutes and then I got my stirrups back for a few rounds around the whole paddock.
Wow what a difference!! My confidence was way up, my legs felt like they were locked around the horse’s belly, I was moving with the horse and everything just felt right.
That was on a Monday, when I woke up Tuesday I could barely get up from my bed. I thought that there was no way I could possibly go riding that day. Fortunately I am quite stubborn when I have decided that I want to o something there is no stopping me. I ignored the pain and got up on that horse again, yes it was super painful, but after a few rounds it was all good and I definitely felt an improvement again that day.
Next day’s pain was even worse, but again I pushed through and went on. A total of 5 consecutive days of pain, sweat and tears (not really, but it emphasizes my point) and then my legs were completely in the right position and my confidence was restored, I basically felt like a riding superstar!
This was 4 weeks ago, then we had a work flight and I went to Denmark for my eye-laser surgery so again no riding for 4 weeks. I have lessons booked every day this coming week, so wish me luck that my thighs have muscle memory and I can get back to where I left off. Let me know how your #NoStirrupsNovember went and what you learned in the comments field below!
5 things I learned from #NoStirrupsNovember
- The literal meaning of “Hug the horse with your legs”
- Muscles develop very quickly when you challenge them (and they have a memory).
- Heels down! Ok this one isn’t new, but still an important lesson whether using stirrups or not.
- Less “aid” from tack increases the rider-horse connection.
- Yoga is a life-saver! Warm up before and stretch after riding!