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24 October 2017 17:47
Do you give much thought to your stirrups and stirrup irons? Maybe they came with your saddle... or you have simply changed your old irons onto a new saddle, with little thought for whether they suit the style and design of the saddle. And do you regularly check that your stirrup leathers and irons are safe and functional? For most of us, they are a well-used part of our tack and equipment arsenal; but we should pay them more attention.
Your choice of stirrup iron should depend on your discipline. For example, pleasure riders or endurance riders often like wider stirrups, partly because they may rider in wider boots, but also as they often ride with a longer length, and need the stirrups to take more weight.
Dressage riders generally have a longer, straighter riding position, with a stirrup length that allows the back to become straighter, with the pelvis tilted backwards. The rider’s knee should maintain a bend, as it needs to act as a shock absorber. Dressage riders tend to put more weight into the balls of their feet, as opposed to the heel and ankle – this is because in jumping, the ankle is more of an ‘anchor’, with a closer angle, while in dressage, the leg is longer and closer to the horse’s ‘barrel’.
The traditional stirrup iron for flatwork is the stainless steel fillis; this is also ideal for show riding. A good example is Shires’ Fillis stirrup irons - also known as knife edge irons, they’re a very popular stirrup iron and well priced. This fillis version is a slim stirrup iron with a weighted bottom, which makes it easier to find a stirrup if lost as it tends to hang in place. The Shires fillis iron is made from high grade stainless steel, and supplied with rubber treads.
The showjumper or XC enthusiast sits further towards the back of the saddle than the dressage rider, and keeps the legs in a more forward position, with shorter stirrups. Too-long stirrups may cause the rider to balance on the horse's neck or reins.
If you engage in activities that could increase the risk of falling, why not try the Sprenger bow balance stirrup - it provides an improved leg position, resulting in better balance and greater comfort for the rider, and greater shock absorbing grip is achieved by a wider stirrup pad, made from a dual density rubber stirrup tread. Sprenger bow balance stirrups adapt perfectly to the rider’s movements, thereby softening the impact on cartilage and ligaments. The high quality materials and the ergonomic form of the bow balance stirrups ensures comfort and security for the rider.
Quick-release stirrup irons have been developed over the years for horse riders with a hinge or elastic insert on the outside edge of the iron that's designed to pop open and free the foot in the event of a fall. A good example is the Korsteel peacock stirrup irons, which are one of the best stirrup irons around for children, in our opinion! Peacock safety irons are designed to release in the event of a fall, preventing the foot from being caught. Due to the construction of the irons, riders over approximat
ely 9 stone should consider using a different stirrup iron, as the peacock irons could bend with use.
As a general rule, you should have half an inch space on each side of your foot in a stirrup iron – this will allow the foot to come out more easily in the event of an accident. Remember, with too-wide irons, your foot may move around too much. When choosing, measure your widest riding boots to make sure they fit in the stirrup; and if other people ride your horse, measure their widest boots too!
Visit The Saddlery Shop for inspiration for all your horse and pony riding needs.