The No-Stirrups November Project Final Recap

No Stirrups November Project

Have you ever played QWOP? It’s a simple yet impossibly hard game where you are expected to control the legs of a really incompetent runner to complete the 100-meter dash. (Give it a try…you won’t do well but it’ll probably make you laugh.)

After the first few No-Stirrups November rides, I felt like the QWOP man, waving my legs around uselessly as I staggered away from the barn after using neglected muscles for a few simple laps of posting trot. Not exactly Chariots of Fire.

But it only took a few rides before I started to hit my stride. I fixed the position flaws—or at least stopped compensating for them with nonstop gripping—and made friends with the challenges of attempting to ride correctly without the aid of stirrups.

I’ll be honest: Going in to this month-long challenge, I thought I’d be building strength more than anything. But somewhere in there was the a-ha moment (or maybe it’s really more of a “duh!” moment) when I realized that what I was really working on was balance. Sure, the muscles get their workout at the posting trot, but even that ended up being more of an exercise in keeping my body aligned and, well, balanced in challenging conditions.

there should be a black unicorn emoji because that’s what fox is ?? #nostirrupsnovember

A video posted by kyra (@kyrazerwick) on

There are tons of amazing Instagram videos where hardcore #NoStirrupsNovember devotees are clearing big jumps and accomplishing other amazing feats without their stirrups. I’m not quite there yet (maybe next year, you guys!) but I appreciate the inspiration. So, take a look at some of those everyday equestrian heroes, and then tell me about what you learned, improved or achieved over the past month in the comments.

And then we’ll figure out how to ride this wave of awesome into December.

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Leslie Potter is Sr. Associate Web Editor of Follow her on Twitter: @LeslieInLex.


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Leslie Potter is a graduate of William Woods University where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Equestrian Science with a concentration in saddle seat riding and a minor in Journalism/Mass Communications. She is currently a writer and photographer in Lexington, KY.Potter worked as a barn manager and riding instructor and was a freelance reporter and photographer for the Horsemen's Yankee Pedlar and Saddle Horse Report before moving to Lexington to join Horse Illustrated as Web Editor from 2008 to 2019. Her current equestrian pursuits include being a grown-up lesson kid at an eventing barn and trail riding with her senior Morgan gelding, Snoopy.


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