How much thought do you give to the stirrups that are hanging off of your saddle on their leathers? Their importance in your tack collection is often overlooked. A pair of super stirrups, used in the correct way, can make a huge difference to your riding position in any discipline and impact greatly on your safety in the saddle.
Stirrups certainly aren’t just somewhere to put your feet while you’re hacking, schooling or competing, or just there to help you mount up.
Trouble is, there are literally dozens of different types of super stirrups available, made of various materials, many with all sorts of features to promote them as improving your riding and maintaining lower leg position. So which stirrups should you choose?
Shopping for Super Stirrups
To a degree most of the items of tack we use are a matter of personal choice, particularly once you are an experienced rider who has tried and tested all the options.
Even if you have a pair of super stirrups that you find comfortable, it’s handy to give some thought as to whether they fit the brief for being safe and serviceable for your needs.
Here are some points to consider when evaluating stirrups:
Size matters a great deal when it comes to stirrups. If they’re too wide, your foot could easily slide through; too small and your foot might become stuck resulting in being dragged should you fall. To make sure your stirrups are the correct size consult your boots: the stirrups should be an inch wider than the widest part of your riding boots (ie. The ball of the foot).
The weight of your stirrups is worth considering. In days of yore all stirrups were made of iron – nowadays you can choose between stainless steel, or lighter hard plastic composites and aluminium. Treads are either rubber, made of flexible polymers or metal. Heavier stirrups help by hanging down obligingly in place if you lose your footing, whereas lighter stirrups are favoured in competition where weight is a factor.
When it comes to the tread on stirrups, wider treads offer more stability and provide optimal support for the rider, relieving tension in hips, knees, ankles and calves. Rubber or polymer treads are anti-slip and have a shock absorbing action, while metal “cheese grater” treads give great grip for cross-country riders with wet, muddy boots. For example the Le Mieux Vector Stirrups, the Acavallo Stirrups or the Shires Plastic Stirrups.
For children and beginners safety stirrups are well-advised. They feature an easy release system of one sort or another which frees your foot from the stirrup if you fall off of the horse while riding, preventing your foot from being caught. The most basic safety stirrups are “peacock stirrups”, with a simple rubber band replacing the metal on one side of the stirrup which detaches easily in the event of a fall.
If you want a good, basic set of super stirrups that will see you through any equitation activity, you can’t go wrong with Fillis stirrups (also known as knife-edge stirrups) – the iconic classic that I’ve heard termed “the oldies but goodies”.
Stainless steel Fillis Stirrups are produced by a multitude of tack brands, all similar in style, modern versions usually having replaceable rubber treads and a weighted base.
Most of the technologically advanced stirrups being marketed by the big brands today are variations and enhancements on the Fillis design theme. For example there are stirrups with offset eyes which help the stirrup leather to lie flat against the leg and saddle; another development is stirrups with a one-way swivel action in the footpiece to help the rider keep the heel down.
There are also special flexible stirrups to alleviate joint pain and reduce impact, and some designed to assist with leg placement.
We here at Totally Tack are fully qualified and happy to advise and assist with all your tack needs, including the best choice of super stirrups and stirrup leathers to suit your riding requirements. Give us a call on 01373 228 242 or drop us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.