10 Steps: to prepare for No Stirrup November

The much anticipated No Stirrup November is only a month away. In order to best prepare myself and my horses and avoid a counter productive month of bouncing around on a tense backed horse, I have broken down my October flat rides into 10 steps to best transition them into November.


Politically Correct

  1. Start on a loose rein, walking long and low around the arena. Use this time to make your final adjustments on the girth.
  2. Pick up a trot still on a loose rein. Everything about your body needs to relax and soften during this step while you get them moving forward off your leg. Concentrate on your posting, and try to separate that movement from the rest of your leg, keeping it slow and steady. While you are keeping your posting quiet, think about squeezing the horse forward with your lower leg every time you sit in the post. Finally, check your upper body and remember to breath and relax your arms and let your elbows be in motion with the horse, and that there is no tension in your back as you sit up tall, still remembering to breath. This step is most important, especially getting into the colder weather when you and your horse need that warm up time to get rid of any tension brought on from bunching up in the cold.
  3. Drop the stirrups and start on some sitting lateral work. The best place to start is on the long sides. Coming out of the corner get your horse straight first, and try doing some small circles down the long sides, haunches in, shoulder ins, and half passes away from and back to the wall. Take this step slow in the beginning and remember to be patient, especially with a green horse like mine. Do not expect too much from them at first. If you get a few steps of haunches in, praise them, get them straight, and ask again. This way neither you or the horse will get frustrated and give up, or poorly execute the movements. Two steps of a perfect half pass is something to celebrate, and then you can move on from there. If you really want to torture yourself, throw in some laps of posting with no stirrups.
  4. Pick up your stirrups and now try some or all of that same exercise with stirrups. Think about keeping your leg long, even with your feet back in the stirrups.
  5. Transition between sitting collected gaits and getting off the horse’s back or taking a lighter seat for forward or extended gaits, keeping the contact.
  6. Try some sitting lateral work down the center line away from the walls of the arena.
  7. Do some long and low trot and canter work, focusing on letting the horse carry themselves and let their step move out more.
  8. Wind down with a pleasure trot on the buckle. Your horse should want to reach their heads out and almost put their nose to the ground. Use this time to think about everything you did in your warm up trot.
  9. Let them walk and cool out.
  10. Dismount and try some neck stretches with treats, you can also do these in the cross ties or before you have mounted, and try some leg stretches when you first do up their girth.



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