Many of you have probably experienced the thrill of No Stirrups November. Your instructor sets up entire lessons without stirrups (including the dreaded posting trot series). Maybe you raise funds for a charity (by having friends donate each time you complete a stirrup-less ride) — or your barn has a contest to see who can do the most rides sans stirrups.

But here at Horse Wise, I like to innovate. And November is a perfect month to prepare your horse for winter — and to set some fun goals for the upcoming holiday season. For many horse people, November and December seem to fly by. It’s so easy to get caught up in the blur of Thanksgiving and Christmas — not to mention the short daylight hours and the sudden need to acquire wool and fleece.

So I’m announcing the Horse Wise No Saddle November challenge. Your thigh muscles will thank me — because No Saddle November is all about ground work. Not the dreary, lunge your horse endlessly kind of ground work — or the endless showmanship patterns (where you have to master the ungraceful art of jogging while squatting).

Here’s how it works:

  • You sign up for the challenge (and choose your own entry fee amount)
  • I email you a specialized list of exercises to do each week (with video instructions)
  • You send me a video or photo of you doing each exercise
  • By Nov 30, you and your horse are ready for the Olympics! Or at least for winter. One or the other, I guarantee it.

The winner of the challenge will receive a gift certificate to Dovers Saddlery, a gorgeous ribbon, custom coaching session and tons of social acclaim. Winner will be determined by greatest number of completed exercises (verified by video/photo). In the event of a tie, a raffle drawing will be held to determine the winner.

What’s in it for me? I’m donating all of the challenge entry fees to my favorite equine charity, LOPE — to help the amazing OTTB warhorses and youth program there.

So take off the tack, put on the lead rope and sidestep into No Saddle November. It’s all for fun — and to help a great cause!

(Note: If you are in Central Texas, I’m doing two No Saddle November live workshops. Spots are very limited. Please email for more info).