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View Full Version : any one have any good no stirrup exercises?



remyman55
Jun. 7, 2011, 08:29 AM
i really need to improve my lower leg and i was told the best way to do that was working with out stirrups. i have done so in the past i was just wondering if there were any good exercises out there or ways i could get it stronger the fastest. obviously consistancy but does anyone have any tips or suggestions?

netg
Jun. 7, 2011, 10:09 AM
Post. Post more. Post even more than that.

Once posting isn't hard? Two point.


Then go jump a course. Without reins.


Basically, what you already do, but without stirrups. I like to time trot sets for posting trot until I build up to a longer time period. When I was best I was posting a total of 30 minutes a day without stirrups.

kayteedee
Jun. 7, 2011, 11:42 AM
I often find that the best way to do it was to remove the stirrups from my saddle (so I'm not just crossing them) as that removes the temptation to take them back when you get tired. The first few days hurt, then that magically goes away. Go for it!

KateKat
Jun. 7, 2011, 12:22 PM
I actually don't love no stirrups for myself unless I'm only planning to do sitting trot or canter. Posting without stirrups makes me grip too much with my knee, which kind of defeats the purpose of improving the lower leg, plus it tends to annoy my horse ;)

So for me, what I actually like to do is a lot of two point. And I mean A LOT. Do it at all gaits, with transitions, etc. It not only helps me get into my heel more, it helps me really wrap my leg around my horse and is a great core workout.

The up-up-down or up-down-down exercise when posting (with irons) is another really good exercise to improve your balance and your leg. I'll do that one when I really feel like torturing myself.

PNWjumper
Jun. 7, 2011, 01:08 PM
Up two, down two and other variations of posting exercises (up two, down one, or up one, down two, etc.).

Two point. And I like to do two point down the rail and then sitting trot in the corners/circles.

Posting the canter.

But really, just general no-stirrup riding is the ticket. I pulled my stirrups off of my mare's saddle in September and haven't ridden with them since. It's made a huge difference in my position and stability on my other horses. But you have to pay attention to HOW you're riding without stirrups. No-stirrup work should never cause you to pinch with your knee (in which case you're allowing yourself to do it incorrectly), and *should* help to strengthen your entire leg. You should have equal pressure from ankle to thigh and you should pay attention to whether your legs are equal and even (I initially dropped my stirrups because I was keeping one leg too far forward relative to the other).

With that being said, I think there's a better exercise for strengthening and stabilizing your lower leg. If you really want to torture yourself, I suggest standing straight up in the stirrups during your warmup. It's the absolute best balance and leg-strengthening exercise and doesn't cause you to grip with your knee or risk harming your position in any way. It forces you to be rock solid with your base, and it burns a LOT more than no stirrups work! You can hold mane to help with your balance initially.....that won't interfere with the strengthening component of it.

goosejumps
Jun. 7, 2011, 01:17 PM
Up two, down two and other variations of posting exercises (up two, down one, or up one, down two, etc.).

Two point. And I like to do two point down the rail and then sitting trot in the corners/circles.

Posting the canter.

But really, just general no-stirrup riding is the ticket. I pulled my stirrups off of my mare's saddle in September and haven't ridden with them since. It's made a huge difference in my position and stability on my other horses. But you have to pay attention to HOW you're riding without stirrups. No-stirrup work should never cause you to pinch with your knee (in which case you're allowing yourself to do it incorrectly), and *should* help to strengthen your entire leg. You should have equal pressure from ankle to thigh and you should pay attention to whether your legs are equal and even (I initially dropped my stirrups because I was keeping one leg too far forward relative to the other).

With that being said, I think there's a better exercise for strengthening and stabilizing your lower leg. If you really want to torture yourself, I suggest standing straight up in the stirrups during your warmup. It's the absolute best balance and leg-strengthening exercise and doesn't cause you to grip with your knee or risk harming your position in any way. It forces you to be rock solid with your base, and it burns a LOT more than no stirrups work! You can hold mane to help with your balance initially.....that won't interfere with the strengthening component of it.

fantastic suggestions, will be crawling around tomorrow after my lesson! :lol:

Noodles
Jun. 7, 2011, 02:39 PM
Take stirrups off. 2point trot, canter...go into jockey position----even at a walk it is TERRIBLY difficult.......back to 2point etc......

Hate to say...that a bloody crotch...etc..... will probably occur....

w.o stirrups... trot fences....minimum 20 jumps don't have to be huge....

5-8 fences....no strides or one strides...trot into.....at first w reins then no reins......

SweetMutt
Jun. 7, 2011, 03:10 PM
Take stirrups off. 2point trot, canter...go into jockey position----even at a walk it is TERRIBLY difficult.......back to 2point etc......

Hate to say...that a bloody crotch...etc..... will probably occur....


:eek: This has totally never happened to me when riding without stirrups! And I do it a LOT! Maybe I'm just lucky?

I agree with doing all your regular exercises, but without stirrups. Posting, 2-point, jumping, etc. If that's too easy and you can ride just as well without your stirrups as with them, leg strength is not your problem.

Also do lots of 2-point with stirrups to get your lower leg nice and tight.

saanengirl
Jun. 7, 2011, 03:50 PM
I am having the same problem, mostly due to previously riding western, and my trainer is having me stand straight up in the stirrups at the walk and trot during warm-up, and then later in practice, two-point at the canter. For the next two weeks I am not supposed to canter unless I am in two-point. She is not having me do any exercises without stirrups at this time.

kinnip
Jun. 7, 2011, 03:58 PM
Ya'll are hurting my pride and my back. I did a bit of no stirrup work today. It was going well enough when the muscles around my left SI joint spasmed. I couldn't get them to let go for the life of me, and the poor horse just kept doing shoulder-in left.

kateh
Jun. 7, 2011, 04:37 PM
Ride bareback! Don't do a "bareback ride," ride as usual just sans saddle. It makes me really aware of how my seat is affecting my horse, and my legs usually feel like jello at the end too.

barnworkbeatshousework
Jun. 7, 2011, 05:53 PM
I agree with the exercises recommended above. Another suggestion: I agree with PNWJUMPER, when you're riding without stirrups, do not pinch with your knee. Keep your lower leg contact even, but also, sit on your seat bones! Equally applied weight distribution is absolute, and without stirrups, you will notice if you lean to one side or not. It would help if you could get someone to lunge you, without stirrups, too. That way you could focus on your seat in the beginning, not having to worry about the horse. Riding without stirrups so beneficial! When I was a teenager in the mid-80s, I lived in a large city in a former French colony, in West Africa. My Dad had a connection to the French military base, which had a riding stable that used to be the old cavalry stable. I had the opportunity to ride with the other French students at the barn. Imagine my surprise when I showed up for my first ride (AND, I didn't speak French yet, at the time) and there were no stirrups on the saddles. The instructor was a French Capitaine, in full uniform. We were only allowed to tack up the saddle (the local grooms did everything else, much to my dismay!). When we entered the ring, we had to stand in line, wait to be inspected by the Capitaine, and didn't mount until he approved. We did ALL our riding without stirrups!!! Flat work, gymnastics, jumping courses, EVERYTHING!

It took me a while to get used to it (and to figure out how to follow riding instructions in French...), but it was the best experience I ever had! Up until that point, I had only been riding at a local group lesson barn at the Marine Corps base stables in Quantico, VA. Basic hunt seat stuff, nothing like this. I didn't realize at the time that I was experiencing my first exposure to classic European riding, dressage, how it helped with jumping, etc. He'd work us on the flat, over cavallettis, and over a practice line of fences--no stirrups. We'd drop the reins several strides before and hold our arms out and jump; or, cover our eyes a few strides before the jump; or, jump with our hands on our helmets. Again, all without stirrups. It was fantastic for learning to ride with your seat, and to feel the horse beneath you.

Fortunately, the country we lived in (Senegal) had peanuts as its main export, but being just at the base of the Sahara desert, not much else vegetation. Ground up peanut shells were used to line the riding ring. All the horses were locally found small West Africa Arabs. VERY bouncy at the trot, fast, etc. The peanut shells made a nice cushion when I fell! To this day, I always spend saddle time without stirrups, particularly when I get "stuck" with my riding, or feel in a rut, I drop stirrups. Ironically, I sometimes find I ride better without them, than with. My leg seems to drop better, my thigh lies better. I agree with everyone above, ride without them (just take them off the saddle), and it will help tremendously! If you are uncertain at first, take an old stirrup leather and fashion a neck strap, or attach a "sissy strap" to the d-rings of the saddle, to help secure yourself and get that deep seat. Just don't tighten up your lower back, tense up, or grip with your knees or thighs, that will just pogo you in the saddle and send you upwards. Just go with the flow!

kateh
Jun. 7, 2011, 06:53 PM
Ironically, I sometimes find I ride better without them, than with. My leg seems to drop better, my thigh lies better.

:yes: I have a friend who could win any eq class she entered if she could only ride stirrupless the whole time.

Pirateer
Jun. 7, 2011, 07:30 PM
We lived without our pedals on my college IHSA team.

The most important isn't outlasting everyone else "riding longer".

You need to maintain the correct position the entire time you are working without stirrups.

Lunge line work is really good if you have a trusty horse and buddy to hold the ropes.

Use lots of posting and two point at the trot, sitting is ok but more important to focus on the other- too much sitting trot leads to chair-seaty riding, imho.

fourmares
Jun. 8, 2011, 02:01 AM
Drop just one sturrip. Switch sturrips ever lap or so.

Rel6
Jun. 8, 2011, 02:19 AM
I actually don't love no stirrups for myself unless I'm only planning to do sitting trot or canter. Posting without stirrups makes me grip too much with my knee, which kind of defeats the purpose of improving the lower leg, plus it tends to annoy my horse ;)

So for me, what I actually like to do is a lot of two point. And I mean A LOT. Do it at all gaits, with transitions, etc. It not only helps me get into my heel more, it helps me really wrap my leg around my horse and is a great core workout.

The up-up-down or up-down-down exercise when posting (with irons) is another really good exercise to improve your balance and your leg. I'll do that one when I really feel like torturing myself.

This. No stirrups only helps if you do it properly, which I don't.

Kareen
Jun. 8, 2011, 02:43 AM
I find often leg position problems stem from seat problems. Once the seat is really well established in the middle position it's much easier to keep your legs where they belong and develop that 'breathing' feeling.
I would therefor go back one step and sit on two tennisballs. You'll find it will improve your position greatly and after a while you should find it a lot easier to work on your leg and calves :)

greenwoodeq
Jun. 8, 2011, 03:00 AM
gymnastics lines (little fences) with no stirrups... ooh and no reins too when you can handle all the stirrup-less stuff. Trot poles/ cavaletti exercises are great with no stirrups too.

karlymacrae
Jun. 8, 2011, 03:26 AM
Everything can be fixed with no stirrup work when done correctly, and I mean EVERYTHING. I fell into a rut a few days ago and whenever that happens to me I take the stirrups off of my saddle for a week. It always helps. I do sitting trot, posting trot, two point, sitting canter, posting canter, and canter in two point. I do shoulder in, lead changes, haunches in and leg yields. I jump small gymnastic lines (no bigger than 3' because my horse is a nutbar) and do circles, serpentines and figure eights. Just be really self disciplined! Don't pinch with your knee.. focus on keeping your toes turned out, even a little too much. You should not feel the burn in only one part of your leg.. it should be from your groin through your thigh and calf. The standing up one sounds like a good idea (and extremely painful..) I'll have to try it tomorrow!

TrotTrotPumpkn
Jun. 8, 2011, 10:14 AM
I find often leg position problems stem from seat problems. Once the seat is really well established in the middle position it's much easier to keep your legs where they belong and develop that 'breathing' feeling.
I would therefor go back one step and sit on two tennisballs. You'll find it will improve your position greatly and after a while you should find it a lot easier to work on your leg and calves :)

Kareen, what do you mean? Do you mean work on sitting on your "seat bones" or are you talking about actually putting two whole tennis balls between your butt and the saddle? I'm having a hard time with the visual or figuring out what you mean.

Thanks!!

SpicyMonarch
Jun. 8, 2011, 11:53 AM
I'm a fan of the 7x7x7 exercise. Seven strides posting, seven strides sitting and then seven strides two point, sans stirrups. It's an old equitation exercise that the die-hards love. Might be a tad boring and you may just wind up going around and around the ring counting the whole time (hey, improve your rhythm while you're at it!) but the benefits are awesome.

Rio Blanco
Jun. 8, 2011, 06:34 PM
Another good one that a dressage trainer I worked for taught me was to pull my thighs out and away from the saddle for a couple steps and put them back down. This quickly helps eliminate any and all desire to pinch with the knee. The first few times you do it, you can grab ahold of your Beval pad or the pommel of the saddle to help settle your seat bones and wrap around your horse when you relax your leg back to it's normal position.

FWIW, I like the ideas presented here!! I recently injured my left foot and will be riding without stirrups until further notice. I did only 15-20 mins today and worked mainly on transitions and not pinching with my knee. Not to mention I'm out of shape to begin with after a couple weeks of vacation, now I'm stuck without my stirrups if I want to ride...I'm so sore!!

MyssMyst
Jun. 8, 2011, 06:44 PM
FWIW, I like the ideas presented here!! I recently injured my left foot and will be riding without stirrups until further notice. I did only 15-20 mins today and worked mainly on transitions and not pinching with my knee. Not to mention I'm out of shape to begin with after a couple weeks of vacation, now I'm stuck without my stirrups if I want to ride...I'm so sore!!

Lol, this is what I plan on doing! I have zero desire to wait until September to ride. I'll be sore, but it's better than not riding :p

remyman55
Jun. 8, 2011, 08:19 PM
Great Ideas everyone! Thank you soo much. I cant wait to ride again to try these all out. Hopefully this 100 degree weather will pass for me so i can get back to riding!

clairified
Jun. 6, 2012, 12:06 AM
Ya'll are hurting my pride and my back. I did a bit of no stirrup work today. It was going well enough when the muscles around my left SI joint spasmed. I couldn't get them to let go for the life of me, and the poor horse just kept doing shoulder-in left.

LOL! I feel terrible for laughing at the muscle spasm, those suck. Just giggling at your pony's dutiful reaction. :winkgrin:

pennyforyourthoughts
Jun. 6, 2012, 02:45 AM
My biggest motivator is always to do it with friends!! I sometimes even challenge the kids who are hacking to a 'no stirrups war'! They usually win, and i usually end up owing someone a gatorade or a candy bar, but I've gotten much stronger and competitive in the mean time! Plus, it's fun and they dont mind the healthy competition of an old lady. We change it up and add sitting trot, some poles and two point from time to time, but overall, when you're doing it right, it's amazing how much and how fast it can help your leg to stay tight over fences.

RedxHandedxJill
Jun. 6, 2012, 04:02 AM
I love riding without stirrups! Unfortunately wild ottb in rehab right now isn't exactly okay with that idea. Sigh :( Anyways, what everyone else said. post, post, post, post! :D

SaratogaTB
Aug. 26, 2012, 09:56 AM
I just started no stirrup work and was shocked at the bruises on my calves afterward. Anyone else notice that? Does that mean I'm gripping too hard with my lower leg?

JukeboxHero
Aug. 26, 2012, 10:21 AM
My friends and I play gymkhana and old pony camp games without stirrups. Usually, you end up having so much fun you start to forget about not having stirrups.

Or ask your trainer for a completely stirrupless lesson. Because if you do that (and if they're anything like any trainer I've had),

a) They will literally torture you with every no-stirrup exercise they can think of.

b) You know they won't ever give you your stirrups back or give you a break. So you're pretty much forced to stop longing for your stirrups and focus on riding your best (this seems to be a problem with a lot of people I know; they're so focused on getting their stirrups back, they can't focus on the task at hand enough to really do their best with it).

bhrunner06
Aug. 26, 2012, 06:46 PM
post. post more. then go out and hack in the field and up and down hills. BRUTAL but SO worth it.

Then do it on a 4 year old OTTB. that adds a whole new level of "tight" without gripping.

belgianWBLuver
Aug. 27, 2012, 01:15 PM
I'm a fan of the 7x7x7 exercise. Seven strides posting, seven strides sitting and then seven strides two point, sans stirrups. It's an old equitation exercise that the die-hards love. Might be a tad boring and you may just wind up going around and around the ring counting the whole time (hey, improve your rhythm while you're at it!) but the benefits are awesome.

This^ and I add a potholder under each calf. That keeps my calf on and my knee from gripping. I ride dressage but I do these exercises on my big greenie once a week for 30 mins. It just helps me keep everything supple and muscled, works my abs, lower back and thighs. Plus I have to work hard to keep my shoulders steady and hands from moving. Perfect workout!