No-Stirrup November continues, and I feel I have been improving a little bit each time I ride. I will likely continue no-stirrup work through December as well, because I hope that it can help me gain a more solid, independent seat, and to post without balancing on my hands or swinging my lower leg. It's interesting how much more evident these problems become when I ride without stirrups.
I lunged Lucky just before I rode her last, and she was splendid! She went the best I have ever seen her gone. Interestingly enough, she worked much better to the right, which in the past has been her weaker side. Normally, she leans excessively on her inside shoulder went going to the right, and consequently, I have to use a lot of inside leg(or point a dressage whip at her shoulder in this case). This time, however, she did not lean nearly as much, and most importantly, actually began seeking the sweet spot(roundness/stretching) on her own, after I set her up correctly(Laura worked with her before I lunged). She was able to stay round for several circles without me having to constantly correct her by squeezing on the line. It was spectacular. Unfortunately, she did not do as well to the left, which is usually her best side, but these things happen as horses are trained
After having ridden with no stirrups for several times, I am able to more easily lift myself out of the saddle when posting. However, watching my video from my first no-stirrup ride has made it clear that I have been balancing on my hands while doing this. Because of this, the foci of my ride was not using my hands to lift myself out of the saddle. Instead, I should use my core strength. To help me do this, I ditched my hands entirely, putting them on my hips or stretching them out to the side instead. By doing this, I had no choice but to use my core. However, this aggravated another problem at first: my lower legs swung back instead on staying I place. Again, this is a problem that I am pretty sure I have had before; it just has been made more evident now that I am riding without stirrups.
During the next trot set, I tried my hardest to keep my legs steady. This time, I succeeded. Afterward, I spent a few moments trying to memorizing exactly how that felt, so I could repeat it. Solid is really the only way I can think of to explain it. It made glancing while posting much easier, and I felt much more steady.
Next, I held my arms out to me side, like an airplane, as I trotted quite a few circles around the round pen, posting in short intervals. I could feel the burning in my inner thighs as I did this, but wanted to push myself just enough that increased my strength and endurance, but not enough to overdo it and get fatigued. Before long, though, I could even feel my arm strength begin to flag, and was relieved to to them on my hips and walk for a bit. I worked like this for a it, sitting and rising the trot, and walking in intervals. When I was done, I tried a two-point at the halt, because that is what Laura plans for me to work on next: two-point without stirrups. It may be difficult, but it will be infinitely useful. It will not only increase my strength and balance, but will also prepare me for accidents that can happen when riding a jump course. I cannot count the number of times I've seen pictures of jumpers losing or breaking stirrups(or even bridles–yikes) while on a course. At any rate, it will be a great thing to learn.
To finish, I took a trail ride around the property to cool out.