I've done it before, but omg this morning ... Eeeks! I still can't stop grinning about it.
My instructor said she wanted to do some work without stirrups. She said my canter's coming on and I'm improving with my practice drills: 20 metre circles, 3 loop serpentines, et al. She's noticed that even though I've got M.E., my stamina is improving as well in that I'm barely stopping between drills or not stopping at all and having to walk. However, my seat could be better in canter and I know it could. So she got me to stop and cross the stirrups over the top and then said what we were going to do - walk (fine), trot (ok .. the last time I did it without stirrups I was bouncy and lopsided) and then she said ... canter (I know an expression of fear shot across my face at that point).
So we started doing walk which was fine, trot wasn't too bad and got better as we went along, however my legs started tiring quite abit, so we did one short burst of canter. It felt so different and if I'm being honest softer than when I do it with stirrups. We came off track but thats something I can work on next time. For me the big achievement has been just actually doing it. I still can't believe I did it. Going back to stirrups afterwards just felt weird. I had to change the length of them and make them longer, but my rising trot felt a lot better and I had a more positive attitude to canter and we were cantering on the left rein which is both Ben and mine's weaker side.
Having done the work without stirrups even though it was only for a short period of time I feel like I've got so much from it. Riding without stirrups really does get you to believe and trust in yourself and your abilities as a rider. I never thought at the end of the lesson I'd be the one asking to do it again, and we're going to. My instructor's set out a number of goals that we're going to work together for me to be a better rider. And on that note ... I have to say that I know I made the right decision switching stables earlier on this year. The difference in just 4 months is huge.