Con­sider these fac­tors when choos­ing a stir­rup.

Horse & Rider - - Contents -

When you think about rid­ing, you’d prob­a­bly iden­tify your seat as the most im­por­tant part of your horse­man­ship, which is cor­rect. Your feet are the sec­ond most im­por­tant part, in terms of es­tab­lish­ing your base. This means your stir­rups play just as im­por­tant a role in your rid­ing as your sad­dle’s seat.

Here I’ll iden­tify five stir­rup types I use most plus of­fer safety tips. Note that I’ve left out the oxbow stir­rup, as it’s not one that I pre­fer for per­for­mance ac­tiv­i­ties. I don’t like the dan­ger it poses in terms of getting hung up in a stir­rup that re­quires you to ride “all the way home,” i.e., with the rim of the stir­rup right at your heel.

1: Flat-Bot­tomed Stir­rup

This is a clas­sic wooden Net­tles stir­rup. I started us­ing these sev­eral years ago be­cause they could be used in rein­ing, cut­ting, and work­ing cow horse; it was the most ver­sa­tile stir­rup I could find. I find them to be durable, and we re­place the leather treads as they wear out. The stir­rup’s de­sign al­lows you to keep your foot in the cor­rect po­si­tion, with your foot flat in the mid­dle of the stir­rup. This one is 2 inches wide through the tread.

2: Tapered Stir­rup

An­other wooden op­tion, this stir­rup is called a “half­breed” stir­rup. Its tapered sides al­low a less con­stricted feel—your feet only touch the tread on this stir­rup. Tread widths vary from 1 to 3 inches.

3: Leather-Laced Stir­rup

Some rid­ing re­quires ex­tra pro­tec­tion for your stir­rups. That’s when a leather-cov­ered stir­rup can come in handy. The leather outer pro­tects the wood in­side the stir­rup when you ride in dam­ag­ing, dif­fi­cult con­di­tions, such as on the trail or out on the ranch. The rough­out leather in this stir­rup adds ex­tra tread to keep your foot in the stir­rup.

4: Rop­ing Stir­rup

This rawhide-wrapped stir­rup is longer and de­signed es­pe­cially for rop­ing. Most rop­ers stand in their stir­rups to throw their ropes, which puts their legs be­hind them and their toes down. This 4-inch bot­tom gives you a large plat­form to stand on. The wider over­all width al­lows your feet to eas­ily leave the stir­rup if you have to dis­mount to tie a calf. The rawhide wrap­ping serves as pro­tec­tion for the wood un­der­neath, but it also en­sures that the bolts that hang the stir­rup from the fen­der stay in place. I wouldn’t rec­om­mend this stir­rup for any­thing other than its in­tended pur­pose be­cause your foot could go through the stir­rup if you’re trail rid­ing, for ex­am­ple.

5: Metal Stir­rup With Rawhide

You’ll see many stir­rups made of metal and rang­ing from ul­tra-light­weight (alu­minum) or ex­tra-heavy (steel). This par­tic­u­lar stir­rup is alu­minum and is shorter on the in­side than the out­side—that is, it’s off­set. Good horse­man­ship dic­tates that your foot should sit flat in the stir­rup. An off­set stir­rup can help with that po­si­tion in some cir­cum­stances.

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