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Stirrups - they make a huge difference

Dec 21, 2023
saddle stirrups

Today I want to talk about something that I have only just recently learned.

I have ridden in stirrups with the twisting top for years (as shown on the right side of the picture). I picked them because I would get literal holes in my shin from the stirrup leather twisting and rubbing into it. I also picked the kind that had the flexible sides to it, thinking it would help make my foot/leg more secure since it flexed with my foot.

Boy was I wrong.

I honestly hadn't even considered the massive effect that the flexible sides make in the stability of your leg, and therefore, your position. It wasn't until this past fall when an instructor of mine complained about my stirrups and I questioned him on it. When they brought out non-flexible stirrups, I was shocked at the difference I felt in the massive increase in stability I felt in my leg and overall position. 

He likened a rider to an upside down pendulum, with your foot being the point of contact/support. If that is unstable, the whole pendulum swings. And flexible stirrup sides lead to more instability.

It's one of those things where it just seems to be something nobody really talks about or notices, but can be a MAJOR item that can help (or hinder) your riding. 

I had also been grappling for years with the last major "holdout" for safety - not having a fall release stirrup. Luckily I've always come out of the stirrups well in my falls, but it did slightly bother me that I wasn't being *as safe* as I could be by having a release mechanism in my stirrup. But I was just so sold on the twisting top to prevent my shin rubs. At one point I actually reached out to two different stirrup manufacturers to see if they would incorporate the other type of feature. One that already made safety releases to see if they were considering a twisting top, and then another with a twisting top to see if they would consider a safety release. Unfortunately, nothing came to fruition.

But for some reason, I don't see to be having the shin rubs at the moment with the standard safety release stirrups.

Regardless, I will deal with shin rubs if it means that I am safer in the event of a fall, and since it means that I have a much more solid base of support with my leg.

So take my advice and learn from my mistakes. I still ride in the flexible stirrups in dressage (at least for now) since there is much less importance on being completely "in your feet" in dressage. But I will always jump in stirrups with solid sides now for the base of support. And better yet, they have a quick release in case I were to ever get stuck in them from a fall.

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