Jin 4R2A1242 920x518 1 Stirrups Guide: Everything You Need to Know!

Stirrups Guide: Everything You Need to Know!

Hard to believe, but already the Germanic tribes and the Romans used the stirrup when riding their horses. Stirrups make it easier to get on the horse. They are intended to provide support for the feet when riding and ensure a firm seat in the saddle. People have continued to develop stirrups over time. Nowadays, stirrups are not only made of metal. They are also made of plastic, have shock absorbing inserts and are available with toe caps and with safety elements. In order for them to provide optimal assistance, it is essential for riding to adjust the temple length correctly.

What there is to know about the riding accessories stirrups, you can learn in our guide.

What are stirrups and what are they used for?

Stirrups are curved footrests. They hang sideways at the height of the rider’s feet. You attach them to the saddle via stirrup leathers. They take up the riding boot when mounting and riding, support the feet and give them support. For light trotting, jumping and cross-country riding, they allow you, the rider, to stay balanced during the relief position.


To avoid putting too much one-sided weight on your horse when mounting with stirrups, you can use mounting aids. This will be easier on your horse and you will sit faster in the saddle.

What types of stirrups are there?

Classic stirrups: The classic stirrup is also known as the English stirrup. It is made of stainless steel and provides a good grip. The rather narrow stirrup usually has rubber inserts that prevent the foot from slipping off. Various disciplines are performed with the classic model, including jumping and dressage. Western riders who spend a lot of time in the saddle usually use stirrups with a large tread width.

Safety stirrup: The safety stirrup is a special type of stirrup. The stirrup models for increased safety allow you to be safer on the horse through various mechanisms. If a risky situation occurs for you on the horse, your foot will be free faster. In case of a fall you are on the safe side. Iceland stirrups (special type of safety stirrup): Iceland stirrups are characterized by the fact that the outer leg is bent forward and the inner leg is bent backward. Why it is useful, you can read further down in the text.

Stirrups with turned eyelets: As with the OPERA Acavallo® stirrup, for example, you hang the twisted stirrups crosswise on the stirrup leathers. This prevents the stirrup from hanging down twisted. The stirrup and the stirrup leathers lie better and prevent chafing. Also, you catch the stirrup with your foot faster if you lose it on the horse.

Why do equestrians use safety stirrups?

Safety stirrups use certain mechanisms to ensure that you don’t get caught in the stirrup in the event of a fall. Your horse will not pull you behind him. They are not only suitable for children and beginners. Adult and experienced riders also protect themselves when they use these stirrups. The safety stirrup gives the same support when riding as a conventional stirrup. But it has integrated devices that allow the foot to free itself from the stirrup within fractions of a second.

The following safety stirrup systems are commonly used by equestrians:

Iceland stirrups: The curved stirrups mean that when your foot turns, it slips out of the stirrup easily. This prevents you from seriously injuring yourself. If your foot slips out of the Iceland stirrup unintentionally, you can quickly pick it up again. With this stirrup, you must be careful to install it correctly. If you mount the stirrup the wrong way around, you will not be able to take advantage of its shape.

Safety stirrup with elastic band: This stirrup features a strong rubber band on the outside that comes off if the rider falls. You can replace the rubber band or ring if necessary. Stirrups with rubber ring are especially suitable for advanced riders. Safety stirrups with joints: These stirrups have joints on their legs. If you fall off the horse, one leg folds away and the foot is free.

Safety stirrup with foot cap (anti-slip): The foot caps on the stirrups protect children and novice riders from having their feet slip through the stirrups. They ensure that the athletes on the horse hold their legs better. Foot caps can also be fitted to stirrups as a pair.

How big should the stirrups be?

The stirrup must be the right size for you. If it does not fit, it will not provide you with the necessary safety.

The stirrup has the best width when it is slightly wider than the boot at its widest point. The foot should have about half an inch of space on each side. If the stirrup is too narrow, the stirrup will provide poor support. If the stirrup is too wide, in the worst case the whole foot slips through and gets stuck. If you get thrown off, your entire foot can get stuck in the stirrup. Terrible accidents happen this way. Too tight stirrups prevent you from placing your feet optimally. It then does not support you optimally.

Your shoe size usually tells you how wide the stirrup should be. If your shoe size is no more than 39, a tread surface of eleven centimeters is usually sufficient. A larger foot needs twelve centimeters. Accordingly, some brands offer women’s stirrups or men’s stirrups.

For children, there are special stirrups that feature tread widths of ten centimeters and less.


The stirrup is not too tight: You put your shoe in the stirrup without feeling any pressure on the side. The model is too wide: your whole foot slips through the stirrup. You promote a non-slip fit if you wear heeled shoes and use stirrups with protective caps.

Which material is suitable for stirrups?

Depending on the discipline, stirrups have to withstand 4 times the body weight. In addition, the stirrups are exposed to various weather conditions and should withstand them without any problems.

Stirrups are made of different materials:

Stainless steel: Stainless steel is the classic and the most common material that stirrups are made of. Stirrups made of stainless steel look chic, do not rust and are robust. However, stainless steel is quite heavy and not particularly flexible.

Aluminum: Newer models are sometimes made of lightweight aluminum. Aluminum stirrups have the same properties as stainless steel stirrups – only they are lighter.

Plastic: Sturdy plastic allows for a variety of custom variations. Do you like glitter on your stirrup? There are specimens suitable for that. If the manufacturer of the plastic stirrups specifies the maximum weight that can be loaded, you should observe this. Light stirrups break when they are overloaded. They also have the disadvantage that you can hardly pick them up if you lose them with your foot. The low weight makes the stirrup dangle a lot. One advantage of plastic hangers is said to be that they bounce easily and are easy on the joints. Inexpensive models are usually made of material that is not resistant to weather and corrosion.

Leather Stirrups: Western riders like to use leather stirrups. They provide a comfortable fit, but are susceptible to moisture. The material is therefore high-maintenance. If you want to save time, opt for metal or plastic stirrups instead.

Which stirrups are suitable for the different disciplines?

In equestrian disciplines, riders use different types of stirrups.

English riding and dressage: In English riding and dressage, riders use the classic stirrups with non-slip tread made of rubber.

Western riding: Western stirrups are often made of leather. They are wider. As a result, they provide a secure and comfortable hold even during long rides.

Cross-country riding: To prevent your foot from getting caught in the stirrup in an emergency, narrow safety stirrups are useful for cross-country riding.

Show jumping: When jumping, many athletes also prefer the safer stirrups. Various mechanisms ensure that they lose the stirrup quickly in the event of a fall.

Frequently asked questions about stirrups and their accessories

Horse owners ask many other questions about stirrups. Below we compile the most frequently asked questions with answers.
How long should stirrups be?

Stirrups that are too short are a nuisance, and stirrups that are too long prevent you from acting correctly on your horse. The exact length of the stirrup depends on several factors:

Individual anatomy of horse and rider. Type of saddle Seat shape Task during training

If you are riding dressage, use the following rule of thumb as a guide:
You measure the stirrup leathers according to the length of your arm. To do this, hold the stirrup under your armpit and stretch your arm towards the camber spring of the saddle. Adjust the strap so that it is taut along the entire length of your arm. In show jumping, it is recommended to buckle the stirrups at least three holes shorter.

Basically, the stirrups are so long that your legs hang down relaxed to the side of the horse’s belly. The heels of your riding boots point downward when trotting lightly.

Note: If you want to adjust the stirrup length exactly, you have to adjust it from the saddle.

How long should stirrup leathers be for dressage and for show jumping?

Generally, the lengths of stirrup leathers range from 120 to 180 centimeters. The lengths depend on the type of saddle and the size of the rider.

If you are under 1.80 meters tall, choose a 150 to 165 centimeter stirrup leathers for the dressage saddle. If you measure over 1.80 meters, you will need longer straps. They should be 170 to 180 centimeters long for dressage.

If you need the straps for a jumping saddle and you are under 1.80 meters tall, choose the measurements 130 to 145 centimeters. If you are taller than 1.80 meters, choose a 145 to 165 centimeter long strap.
Suitable length of stirrup leathers – tabular summary:

Length stirrup leathers:Dressage saddleJumping saddle
< 180 centimeters height rider150 to 165 centimeters130-145 centimeters
> 180 centimeters height rider170 to 180 centimeters145 to 165 centimeters

BTW: You can find out more about the different saddles in the guide “Which saddle is the right one for you and your horse? You’ll learn what you need to consider when choosing a saddle.
How long should stirrup leathers be for children?

For children or small riders, straps that are 120 to 130 centimeters long are suitable. If the children are still very young for riding and are just learning on a Shetty, there are also shorter straps to buy. Then, for example, the Shetty stirrup leathers 80 cm fit.
How and where do you attach stirrup leathers to the saddle?

Attaching stirrup leathers to the saddle is easy. You proceed as follows:

You thread your stirrup leathers into a stirrup and pull the stirrup to the buckle of the strap. Then you take the end of the strap without the buckle. You push it from the inside to the outside through the camber spring or through the eyelet and attach the strap to the saddle tree. Then close the buckle of the stirrup leathers to the desired length and pull the buckle upwards as far as it will go.

The camber springs on the saddle tree serve to hold the stirrup leathers with its stirrups. Optimally, it opens when the rider falls, preventing the horse from dragging him.

What are mono stirrup leathers?

Mono stirrup leathers are characterized by the fact that they are single over most of the strap. At the top end there is a sewn loop that you hook into the stirrup. At the bottom end, you adjust the length of the strap via a buckle. Mono stirrup leathers are less bulky than conventional stirrup leathers, especially in the thigh area.

What are slanted stirrup leathers for?

With sloping stirrup inserts you raise the outside of the stirrup. Some athletes think that with sloping stirrup inserts they can better hug their horse with their legs. They hope for better knee lock. The sloping inserts are said to provide a better grip when jumping and cross-country.

What does a stirrup weigh?

There is no blanket answer to this question. Plastic and aluminum stirrups are very light, while stainless steel stirrups weigh considerably more.

What are stirrup pads used for?

With stirrup guards you make sure that your saddle does not get dirty or scratched by the stirrups. Especially with new and high-quality saddles it is advantageous to protect them from ugly signs of use. The protector looks like a small bag or pouch with elastic. You quickly pull it over the stirrup and fix it in the desired position using the rubber or elastic insert.

How much do stirrups cost?

The price range for stirrups is wide. Brand-name items are usually more expensive, but usually also offer the higher quality. Depending on the type of stirrup you choose, you can spend between ten and twenty euros or even over two hundred euros.

The classic stirrup made of stainless steel, but also stirrups made of plastic and aluminum can be found in the low price segment. You invest more money in stirrups with integrated safety mechanisms. For example, stirrups with a rubber band cost between thirty and eighty euros, stirrups with a joint between forty and one hundred and fifty euros.

Where to buy stirrups?

You can buy stirrups and suitable accessories locally in an equestrian specialty store or you can order them on the Internet from a specialized online store. You can get advice on your desired article from experts in the store or by telephone in the online store. The experts will give you individual tips. They will tell you which hangers are suitable for you and how best to attach and care for them. Online stores usually offer a large selection. Shipping and delivery only take a few days.

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