Many jumper riders assume that one can never do too much ‘no-stirrup’ work. It is commonly thought that the inner thigh muscles (adductors) are what keep a rider in the middle and on top of the horse, and that the stronger the inner thigh is, the better. A strong inner thigh is good for having effective aids and for staying on when the horse suddenly goes more sideways than forward. However, a strong outer hip muscle (gluteus medius) is of upmost importance. A weak outer hip will cause balance issues, crookedness and a loose lower leg or thigh far more than a weak inner thigh will. Doing 2-point or posting with no-stirrups can lead to knee pinching, stiff hips and back tension. All of which cause muscle pain or fatigue and may actually weaken a rider’s position. Doing a little bit of posting or 2-point at a time and spending more time in full seat, with the legs hanging long, will be much more beneficial! This will relax the hips, strengthen the core and make the outer hip work harder than the inner. Just the way it should be! A smarter way to train to have a stronger jumping position is to spend more time in 2-point with stirrups and in full seat without stirrups.
As a physiotherapist, I would rather see riders strength training more intensively off horse. The lunge squat and single leg jump squat that I discussed in previous ASJ issues are ideal. Add the ‘Sit to Stand’ exercise (that is on my website esportphysio.ca under the “Expert Advice’ tab) and your body will be much more balanced and able to withstand the rigors of riding. I see many young riders with back and hip pain and older riders with hip damage due to using the inner thigh too much. Strengthen your position, but train smarter, not harder!!