The right pair of stirrups can really help your balance and position in the saddle. This guide will help you find the right pair for you.

The design of stirrups has changed considerably over the years. The traditional stainless steel Fillis stirrup iron is no longer your only option when it comes to buying a new pair of stirrups.

Browse the internet or look in any tack shop and you’ll find a variety of different types to choose from.

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:

The right size

As well as selecting the best style for your needs, you must also buy the right sized stirrups for your own safety.

If they are too big your foot may slide straight through; if the irons are too small your foot could get stuck. Either way, you could end up being dragged if you fall off.

There’s a quick check you can do to ensure that your stirrups are the right size. You should be able to fit one finger width on either side of the widest part of your boot and the stirrup.

Alternatively, measure the bottom of your riding boots across the ball of your foot (the widest part), and then add 1 inch. This will give you the size of stirrup that you need.

What to look for


With the use of modern materials, such as plastic and aluminium, stirrups are now extremely lightweight. However, which you prefer is very much a personal choice as there are pros and cons for both lightweight and heavier weight stirrups.


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.


To prevent you being dragged if you fall off, 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.

For more advice on different stirrup designs, see the full article in our latest issue, where readers review their favourite pairs.

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