How do I find the right stirrups?
"First and foremost, stirrups should provide the your foot with good support and stability in the saddle. There are numerous stirrup variations on the market with different purposes; appearance, flexibility and riding comfort or safety. The pioneer in stirrups with a safety effect was Sprenger's first jointed stirrup, now available in the 3rd generation, which has regularly helped professional riders such as Ingrid Klimke and Oliver Townend to win medals ever since.
But with the wide range of models available on the stirrup market, it's hard to make the right choice. Of course, safety is a particularly important issue for many riders, but how can the safety of a stirrup be correctly assessed? Is a stirrup safe just because it is called a safety stirrup? This question can be answered with a clear no, because no stirrup can offer 100% safety. However, by taking a few simple things into account, the greatest possible safety can be offered.
The following factors play a role in the safety and comfort of the stirrup:
- Rider's footwear
- Size of stirrup
- Strength and quality of the stirrup material
- Weight of stirrup
- Condition of the tread surface
- Fit and design of the stirrup
- Additional security aspect - various systems
Riding boots or shoes should have a small heel to prevent your foot slipping through the stirrup. Riders should ensure their footwear is not too wide and thick, and that there's no laces, buckles or eyelets that could cause your foot to get caught in the stirrup.
The Correct Size
To make sure the tread width of your stirrup is correct, you should have at least half a centimetre of space to each side of your foot at the widest part and you should be able to easily take your foot in and out. It should be easy to turn and move your foot in the stirrup without getting it stuck or jammed. However, the stirrup iron should not be too large for the foot either; if so there is a danger that the foot will slip completely through the iron and in extreme cases will not be able to come out again.
Renowned manufacturers offer their stirrup models in different sizes (e.g. for children, women and men) and sometimes even for different weight classes. If weight information is given, care should be taken not to exceed this limit.
Strength and Stability of the Stirrup Material
This point is relatively difficult to assess. A stirrup has to withstand forces of up to 4 times its body weight in the individual disciplines - and this is with daily use and in a wide variety of weather conditions, some of which are adverse. It is recommended to buy stirrups made of stainless material with a breaking load of at least 800 kg.
A simple indicator of the quality of the material used is the price. Very inexpensive models are often made of materials that are not weather and corrosion resistant. For example, they can rust and/or crack and tend to change microstructure or fatigue when exposed to temperature fluctuations. This applies to both metal and plastic stirrup irons. In the case of plastic irons, additional attention should be paid to UV resistance, as UV radiation also fatigues the material and can make it brittle and break.
Weight of Stirrup
The weight of stirrups available on the market varies as does the variety of models. Stirrup weight is subjective, and so it depends on your preference . However, if the rider loses the stirrup while riding, it is easier to pick it up again if it is not too light, but has some weight of its own. Stirrups that are too light "rock" quickly and are difficult to pick up again.
The Tread Surface Properties
The tread surface of a stirrup should perform the task of providing sufficient grip and support for the foot in the stirrup. Especially for beginners, it is important that the foot stands securely in the stirrup so that the rider can balance himself better, find stable support and cannot slip too deeply into the stirrup.
Depending on the stirrup model, the insole is either firmly attached to the stirrup or exchangeable. The advantage of exchangeable inlays is that you do not have to buy the whole stirrup again if it wears out. The advantage of rubber inlays over stainless steel inlays is that they leave no scratches on the saddle. Metal inlays, on the other hand, offer more support, especially during wet weather when rubber can become slippery..
Additional Security Aspect - Various Systems
In addition to the normal standard stirrups, the so-called Fillis stirrups, there are various stirrup models with an additional safety function. For example, stirrups with opening mechanism, stirrups with side openings or jointed stirrups. Although no stirrups come with a 100% guarantee, the use of safety stirrups is highly recommended in the event of a fall.
When choosing a safety stirrup, the quality of the product is important. Inexpensive copies of patented pioneering products are tempting to confuse similar looks, but cannot compete in terms of function and strength and often even pose a safety risk. The market is flooded with safety stirrup copies where the joints are made of inferior materials that can rust or break. In addition, a flexible stirrup should have sufficient strength. It should cushion the movement of the foot, but should never be "wobbly" or "spongy".
Last but not least, when choosing a stirrup, you should also consider the safety of your horse. Depending on how a fall proceeds, it cannot be ruled out that an opening or breaking stirrup may also cause injuries to the horse.
Numerous stirrup tests and comparisons are available online, in which the stirrups have even been tested in (serious) cases. If you are particularly interested in a jointed stirrup, you can read independent test results from various dressage, jumping and eventing testers.
Of all suppliers, Sprenger has the largest range that meets all the important quality criteria mentioned above without exception: long durability, high material quality, breaking loads of up to 1,600 kg as well as functionality, comfort and a stylish look.
As you can see, the choice of stirrup models is huge, but with a little background knowledge and understanding of your own needs, you can find the perfect stirrup!"