Sometimes, I do too, when I'm watching my friends gallop around the ring trying not to fall off. Other times, I stare at the bruises my saddle gives me from my stirrup leathers being draped across my horse's withers and wonder why bad things happen to good people.
This year I escaped NSN for the most part; I got surgery a week into November and have been bedridden since. My last lesson before my operation, however, was a breakout for me. After riding stirrup-less and trying to hang on while my OTTB galloped around the ring and my legs forgot how to be legs, I was tired and sore. The work I did without stirrups was basic; cantering poles, jumping small cross rails, and many transitions, but for a lover of stirrups like me, it was difficult.
My thoughts ranged from "wow I'm good" (while I was trotting) to "just kidding, what is riding" (during everything else). I nearly fell off a few times and could not stop my horse, who was very confused the whole time.
After about twenty minutes my trainer felt bad enough for me and told me I could take my stirrups back. If there's such a thing as magic, it was my riding after those twenty minutes.
I rode my usual courses and nailed every jump. My leg stayed in its position and I was more secure than I've every been, not a word a jumper usually uses to describe herself. My trainer told me it was the best she'd ever seen me ride.
So I'm done with no stirrups, right? Ha.
If twenty minutes of no stirrups makes 200 times a better rider, I think it's time we make No Stirrup November No Stirrups Forever. Or something like that, because five minutes every ride will have all of us improving and growing very quickly.
So if like me, you groan when your trainer says "drop em!" look on the bright side, we'll see each other in the winner's circle.