Get Balanced: Riding Without Stirrups

Good riders not only have soft, quiet hands, they also have soft, quiet legs. Both of these qualities come from an independent seat – the foundation of balance and suppleness. You can develop an independent seat by riding without stirrups, but only if you can practice it correctly. The biggest challenge is that the rider often grips more with her legs and tries to balance off the reins because she has difficulty maintaining her position. Gripping locks up the hips and lower back, making the ride uncomfortable for both the rider and the horse. Instead of balance and suppleness, the result is tension and resistance If you cannot balance without using your reins, or your contact isn’t light and consistent, you should get some lessons on a quiet horse that can help you develop “soft” hands, before attempting to ride without stirrups. To be safe, you can ride with a…

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