BY LYSSETTE WILLIAMS
There is a brisk chill in the air that electrifies me with anticipation and excitement. It’s November, and as an Amateur who loves to torture myself that means the Stirrup Irons are coming off my saddle!
For me, No Stirrup November is an annual ritual. Our trainer would strip our saddles of our irons in preparation for the December George Morris clinic. Though I’m at a new barn and haven’t participated in a George Morris clinic in years, I still love to keep with the tradition
If you also love a good torture session, enjoy these tips on getting through this wonderfully terrible month.
Wear comfortable clothes
No Stirrup November is not the time to be breaking in new boots or a saddle or trying a different brand of breeches. Consider using Chamois Cream or Anti Chaffing powder. We all have different conformation (just like our horses!) so you may find that without irons your breeches or undergarments rub and leave marks.
If you never ride without your irons, it’s probably not a great idea to go whole hog this weekend. Practice dropping your irons and picking them up throughout the ride. If, like me, you have a young horse, I found it’s best to work backwards. Start by dropping your irons during the cool down portion and then begin taking on an extra minute of No Stirrup everyday or every few days.
Everything is more fun with friends, so invite your riding buddy to join you on the challenge. Maybe organize a friendly barn competition with simple, fun prizes at the end of the month.
Mind your “Ups”
It’s very easy to get curled up into a ball while riding without stirrups. Frequently check in with yourself to make sure your toes, hands, eyes, and chest is up.
…with your knees that is! You can always grab the front of your pommel with one hand to make sure your body stays cradled in your saddle where it belongs.
Stretch, Stretch, Stretch!
Many of us stretch before a run or exercise class, but we pass over the opportunity to warm up those muscles before riding. Stretching before your ride will activate your leg muscles and stretching after will help relieve you of tension.
Above all else listen to you and your horse’s bodies. If something isn’t working, maybe you pulled a hamstring, or your horse is getting cranky. Stop for the day, reassess.
Treat Your Self!
Be sure to pamper you and your horse afterwards. A nice massage and liniment brace for your beastie bestie, and a bubble bath and glass of wine for you.
Every day is leg day in November – so let’s make this November really count!