No Stirrup November may kill me. And I don't mean "my thighs are killing me" kill me. I mean, trying to ride Dijon without stirrups may just kill me.
There are pros and con to riding Dijon without stirrups:
- He's gaited so there's nothing to post, you can just glide around
- I don't think he knows how to buck
- His saddle actually fits me
- He's batshit insane
- He has moves like Mick Jagger
- He doesn't tolerate any leg on so I don't even get the benefit of improved eq through no stirrup work
I pulled my stirrups and hopped on in the lower arena. Then he had a melt-down about opening the gate, so I got off, opened the gate, and got back on. As we were walking up the road to the upper arena, the barn owner came down in her truck and he decided that was terrifying. You know, because he's only seen this truck a few thousand times in the years he's been at this barn.
And this is where "the moves" come in. This horse knows how to do things. Things he's not allowed to do because of his injuries, but skills he still likes to pull out when he's in turnout or when he pretends to spook and uses that as an excuse to get away with antics. One of his favorite tricks is side-pass. With a normal horse, if they're getting too excited on the trail, I'll put them to work. They want to go faster; I make them do bends and collection. This extra work usually occupies them and gets their mind back on you and they realize they don't really want to do that much work.
But Dijon is just like, oh lateral work? Let me show you how I can do side-pass at the speed of another horse's canter. Oh you want me to collect? Let me show you my passage. Not slow enough? I can piaffe. He's no longer allowed to do any of these things because of his tendon injuries, so when he starts playing these games, I just get off and walk him.
So when he saw the truck coming, he did a lovely pirouette. I honestly don't know how I stayed on without stirrups, but it probably has to do with him staying in the same place. He didn't go anywhere, he just spun in place. So I found myself still on him, but a bit dizzy. I shoved him over to the side and let the Barn Owner drive by.
Then we went up to the arena and did some work at the walk and gait. Gaiting is a lot of fun and certainly easier than posting without stirrups. It also really requires a different type of ride. You need to relax your hips and let them move. People who've never ridden it, find it difficult at first. But once you let your hips go, it's great.
Rode for about 20 minutes and then headed out of the arena. The trainer was giving a lesson so I asked her to open and shut the gate for me. He approached the gate with his head coming up and up. We made it two steps before he started trying to bolt and when I pulled back, he did another pirouette. So I gave up and hopped off. Even with stirrups, this move really hurts my back. Without stirrups, it's agonizing. Plus I'm probably going to go spinning off. And finally, I don't want him doing it because he has hind tendon issues. So I hand walked him down to the barn and he was a perfect gentleman.
So to review the whole no stirrups with Dijon: comfortable, but crazy. We'll see how this month goes.