Girls Horse Club Blog

Ask GHC: Confidence Without Stirrups?

Published by • Sep 8th, 2008 • Category: Ask Girls Horse Club, Lend a Hand

Ask Girls Horse Club

Ask Girls Horse Club is a new feature where readers can submit questions and anyone can step up to share their relevant advice, opinion and/or perspective in the comments. Here’s your question–

I have been riding for two years now, but I have never been very confident. A little while ago I trotted without stirrups, which I used to do every lesson. I was very nervous, and I fell off. How can I be more confident about riding without stirrups? I feel embarassed as the rest of my class can canter without stirrups!

submitted by Sweetie, age 12

Ask Girls Horse Club is a feature where readers can submit questions and anyone can step up to share their relevant advice, opinion and/or perspective using the comments form below. If you have a question to Ask Girls Horse Club, please use the contact or submission form to send it for consideration.

13 Nickers »

  1. It’s alright to be nervous and embarrassed, I often do the same. It seems I always mess up simple things other riders can easily do. We all have bad days, but don’t let that one time get you down. Strive to achieve better, but more importantly try, at your next lesson or ride.

    Try to never rush yourself when riding, so take it easy if you don’t feel confident and ask to be put on a lunge line and/or do it alone with nobody watching. Start stirrupless at the walk first, and after you’re comfortable, proceed to the trot. Hold onto the saddle or some mane if you feel unbalanced. Gradually, try to take one hand off, then switch over to the other hand. Keep going like this until you feel confident enough to not hold on at all. Repeat at the canter and after time you’d be a pro!

    Another helpful way to be comfortable when trotting or cantering stirrupless is to ride bareback. Riding bareback is great for balance and feeling the horse better.

    I hope this was some help. Good luck with your riding!

  2. Confidence is one of the most important things while horseback riding. But you could try some muscle-building exercises at home so you can grip your horse more firmly. Good luck!

  3. Sweetie, I’ve been riding over 4 years and have just mastered no stirrups these past few months! It is very hard, but it makes it easier if you relax (I know what you’re thinking…relax, yeah right!) But serisouly, if you’re body isnt tense and nervous you can get better control of your horse and focus more on yourself. WHen riding without stirrups you need to keep your seat by using your thigh muscles to lift yourself up and keep yourself balanced. If you feel yourself lean to the side, shift your weight to the opposite side. Don’t feel bad if you fall off (I have fallen of 6 times!), it only helps to make you a stronger rider. Hope I helped, and good luck with no stirrups. Practice really does make perfect.

  4. Sweetie- Don’t worry! It’s okay iif you fall- just remember, the more tense and anxious you are, the more likely it is that you will fall. Relax, and enjoy the ride.

  5. Thanks everyone! I’ve fallen off 7 times, Julia :).

  6. dont worry sweetie. ive just started doing no stirrup work. maybe talk to your instructor and ask for somer lunge lessons, because you probably fell off because you wher tense qand using ur muscles, when your menna use blance, i know i sound critical but i dont mean to ! but lunge lessons will help for balance then go back to work without stirrups

    hope this helps =]

  7. Sweetie: No worries Girlie!!! Everyone makes mistakes, and if it makes you feel any better, I am afraid to trot with out stirrups. My instructor encourages me to at least try so I did and it wasn’t so bad, even though my heart was pounding. I understand what you mean about being emmbarrased about falling off, but honestly it happens to everyone. So no reason to be embarrased right?? Another thing to remember is something my dance teacher taught me (yeah I know this is horse stuff, but I still think it applys): Your not a dancer till you fall down. I think what it means is that if you fall, it means your trying so hard that you fell. So maybe you did the same thing.

    like Julia (and almost everyone else) said, you’ll have better luck if you relax. It really does help. I was riding at a trot without stirrups and was really tense. As I went around a corner, I almost fell (Luckily my horse sensed it and tried to help).

    Good Luck and Someday I hope I see you riding on TV!!


    BE SAFE!!

  8. sweetie it is alright to fall!no worry you will get it everone makes mistakes!
    you will get it soon.

    lee anna

  9. sweetie – everyone above is right. Another way to calm yourself down when riding without stirrups is to softly sing to yourself. Yoi can’t sing without breathing, right? Right. The reason you should try to sing softly is because it’ll make you breathe. When you’re tense, you don’t realise that you’re holding your breath.
    I know how you feel – I fell off a 15.3hh mare whilst trotting without stirrups, and I was extremely nervous after that. I still am. But I sang to myelf once and found that I was really relaxed and sat to the trot quite well!
    Another option is to book a private lunging lesson where your instructor will put you on the lunge. That way all you have to concentrate on is your position, instead of your position AND your horse!
    Good luck! I hope you build your confidence soon.

  10. Don’t worry about it. I am scared to trott without stirrups because i almost fell of. Then i just relaxed focosed and i did it. Just relax.

    -Amy v.

  11. Dont be scared im 9 and i fast canter without stirrups on my horse if ican do it i know you can do it!

  12. I compleatly(<?) understand your fear! My horse has a VERY bouncy trot although I don’t do English I do ride bare-back alot. I have fallen off plenty of times to know that the best way to overcome your fear is to keep trying. Good luck!

    Wish ing you the best!!!! Salina

    P.S. Remember, Be stronger then the dirt!;)

  13. Hey! WOW! No Stirups is super scary! i havnt fallen of but i was very close to yesturday cantering with no stirups on a unbalanced horse. It was super scary! I may not be the best at riding, but i know that relaxing your whole body down into your heals really really helps your balance and your weight to center. Next time you ride without stirups try to just lengthen your leg and center yourself :)