How much thought do you give to the type of stirrups you ride in? You may think of this item of horse tack as merely something to rest your feet on and give you a bit more security in the saddle, but they are so much more than this. A good pair of stirrups is a key piece of every rider’s tack, and the right set can make a world of difference to your riding position, comfort, effectiveness of your leg aids and your safety.

In recent years, the choice of stirrups has grown massively with a whole host of technical stirrups available in varying designs. The traditional stainless steel Fillis stirrup iron is no longer your only option when it comes to buying a new pair of stirrups. Selecting the right stirrup has become a surprisingly complex topic and provokes plenty of conversation among riders. As with many things in the horse world, it does come down to personal choice and what suits one may not suit another, but before buying a pair of these often-pricey technical stirrups it’s worth doing your homework.

Manufacturers have spent years developing different designs and the result is some quite futuristic-looking stirrups, with all manner of features that claim to improve your riding and help you maintain that perfect lower leg position. There are even stirrups that can relieve pressure in your knees and ankles for a more comfortable ride. Here are the key things to look for when selecting a new pair for yourself:

  1. Size: you must also buy the right sized stirrups for your own safety. If they are too big your foot may slide straight through and they’ll feel unstable; if the irons are too small your foot could get stuck. 
  2. Weight: with the use of modern materials, such as plastic and aluminium, some stirrups are very lightweight compared to traditional stainless steel irons, which are heavier. Lightweight stirrups are a popular choice with competition riders, but what you prefer for your own riding will be a personal choice. Some riders prefer a slightly heavier stirrup that’s easier to get your foot back in to if your foot slips out, for example.
  3. Tread: this is an important factor to consider as the tread will help to give you added security while in the saddle. A wide rubber tread is still a popular option for superior grip. A metal cheese grater-style tread is also available which can offer better stability if the soles of your boots get wet.
  4. Safety: some stirrups feature an easy-release mechanism. There are a number of options available, but most open at the side of the stirrup so that your foot is quickly freed.
  5. Innovative features: this includes things like a base that pivots in several directions simultaneously to provide greater comfort and flexibility, and help alleviate tension and pain in your ankles, knees and hips by softening the impact on your joints.

How to find the right size

You should be able to fit one finger between the widest part of your boot and the stirrup (on both sides of the iron). If you’re buying new stirrups, measure across the bottom of your riding boot at the widest point (where the ball of your foot is) and add on an inch to find out what size stirrups you need.

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Acavallo Arena AluPro Stirrups

Acavallo Arena AluPro Stirrups

Colours: Silver, titanium, rose gold, blue, charcoal, red, brown

Size: One size

This stirrup features a patented side opening with a unique HiFlex stress activated locking and release mechanism with big opening in case of emergency. Once triggered, it takes one click to reengage the locking and release mechanism of the stirrup.

The construction of these stirrups is based on flexible polymers, making the stirrup less rigid and more comfortable. The springing stirrup bow and foot support effectively absorbs impacts offering relief to your foot arches, ankles, knees and hips.

Buying in the UK? RRP £134.95 ($135.55; €148.59) Purchase here

International shipping available

Sprenger Bow BalanceSprenger Bow Balance

Colours: Stainless steel, anthracite

Sizes: 112m (4.4in); 122mm (4.75in), 132mm (5.125in)

The design of these stirrups helps to ensure an improved leg position. The bow form offers a perfect fit and has superb strength with enhanced security, and offers maximum comfort.

The stirrups feature System 4 technology that helps to release the foot in case of an emergency. Flexible in four directions, it softens the impact on your cartilage and ligaments without creating an unstable feeling. The widened tread is made from two types of rubber, offering shock-absorbing grip and balance.

Buying in the UK? RRP £210 ($222.04; €243.40) Purchase here

International shipping available

Equipe Staf14 Stirrups

Equipe Staf14 Stirrups

Colours: Light titanium/ red, light titanium/ navy, light titanium/ blue, dark titanium/ grey, dark titanium/ green, black/ orange, black/ red, bronze/ black, black/ black

Size: One size

These stirrups have an innovative simple release system, and need no tools to restore them to their original position after a fall. They have a mobile silicone arm that releases under pressure during a fall. The lower section of the arm sits between the tread and gullet to prevent it from loosening during normal use. The treads have slots for removing sand from boots, with a texture that provides increased grip for security and stability.

Buying in the UK? RRP £324.50 ($343.11; €376.11) Purchase here

International shipping available

Flex-on Safe-on Safety Stirrup Flex-on Safe-on Safety Stirrup

Colours: Fully customisable: 10 frame colours, 16 arm colours, 3 footrest colours, 17 shock absorber colours, 100+ magnet insert colours

Sizes: One size

The Safe-On features all of Flex-on’s shock-absorbing and ergonomic features, plus it can be customised with a range of frame and footbed colours. This stirrup has a flexible outer arm that will open in response to a minimum of 40kg of weight in a fall, helping to release your foot. The branch can be re-attached quickly and simply after a fall.

There are four tread options: inclined grip, inclined ultra-grip, flat grip and flat ultra-grip. The elastomers provide exceptional shock-absorption and the offset leather slots hold the lightweight (a pair weighs 1kg) stirrups at the perfect angle for the optimum leg position.

Buying in the UK? Standard price RRP £244.95 ($259; €283.91) Purchase here

International shipping available

Compositi Reflex StirrupsCompositi Reflex Stirrups

Colours: Black, brown, royal blue, bright blue, red, purple, pink, burgundy, raspberry

Sizes: One size

With glass-fibre reinforcement, the swivel sole of the Compositi Reflex stirrup is positioned on a shock-absorbent layer to relieve tension in your knees and joints. The slender profile has been designed for quick foot release in an emergency. The material used to make these stirrups has a high resistance to shocks and damp, even at low temperatures, making them a durable choice.

Buying in the UK? RRP £36.99 Purchase here

European delivery available

Magnetic Safety Stirrups Ophena SMagnetic Safety Stirrups Ophena S

Colours: Silver, onyx black, rose temptation

Sizes: Insole size EU32 – EU46

Ophena S provides safety, optimal foot position and greater leg stability. The open design minimises the risk of your feet getting caught and the magnetic system releases you in case of a fall. They can be used in all disciplines.

They include a pair of magnetic insoles that you put inside your riding boots — the resulting magnetic connection between the stirrups and your boots provides you with better grip and control. Patented Smart Attach technology removes the need to take the stirrup leathers off the saddle in order to attach the stirrups.

Buying in the UK? RRP £289 Purchase here

International shipping available

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