Jumping without stirrups for the first time in ages.

Jumping without stirrups for the first time in ages.

So last week I posed the question how do you stay motivated to ride over the winter? Well let me tell you, reaching a major milestone in your re-riding career certainly helps. I am still so amped up from my ride that I wish I could go back to the barn and RIDE RIGHT NOW.

My goal this week was just to have Luc behave in the arena. It was windy, there was ice cracking and falling off the roof and a pile of snow had formed at the scary end. A trifecta of scariness. Throw in the fact he’d also had a few days off due to extreme cold temperatures and dental work and I was sure I was in for an exciting, but not in the good way, ride.

I couldn’t have been more wrong. Luc was a champ! He walked, trotted and cantered down at the scary end right away without any issues at all. He’s become so brave (when he wants to be), and so much more relaxed in the arena. He also stood patiently while I got on, which was an extra feat this ride since I wasn’t paying attention and only put one of my stirrups down! I had to wrestle the other one down while I was half in the saddle, praying the entire time that this wouldn’t be the moment a giant chunk of ice came crashing off the arena roof spooking Luc.

Luc was so great for the entire ride that I decided to wrap things up with a little no stirrups work – at the scary end no less. I have to confess that my grand plan over the summer of riding without stirrups for at least five minutes every ride kind of fell off the rails sometime in September, so I was a little rusty.

None the less I walked, trotted and cantered in each direction without too many issues, except of course for the fact that Luc has a ridiculously bouncy trot. That will always be an issue for me! I even trotted over a series of poles and did some leg yielding. Things were going fantastically well when I was walked on a loose rein at the non-scary end chatting with a friend. All of a sudden Luc whirled and bolted and I still didn’t have my stirrups!

Remarkably I stayed on and didn’t even feel that insecure. Go me! I still have no idea what caused the spook, and none of the other horses in the arena seemed to be concerned over whatever it was. So naturally, after staying on sans stirrups for the spook I decided the next logical thing to do was jump without them! That’s right, my horse is all wired from the invisible monsters, I have no stirrups, I very rarely jump and still have abysmal position, but yes, I thought it was a good idea to jump. At least it was just a tiny x-rail.

I trotted down to the scary end, turned the corner and headed toward the fence. Luc jumped it and miracle of miracles I stayed on! In fact, apart from trying to take flight with my chicken arms, my position wasn’t half bad. No half sliding off, grabbing onto Luc’s face, or slamming onto his back during landing. It went so well that I decided to do it again. This time I even managed to correct the arms!

I hadn’t planned on jumping without stirrups. In fact, I kept telling my sister that it wasn’t going to happen, even though she was totally trying to talk me into it. In the end, I’m so glad I listened to her (don’t get used to hearing that Jen!), because my confidence went through the roof. I feel like I’ve come such a long way with my riding given that I only ride once a week and am not taking lessons. Next up, jumping bareback – although I should probably manage cantering first!