Last updated: August 8, 2021

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Welcome to our big stirrup test 2022. Here we present all the stirrups we have tested in detail. We have compiled detailed background information and added a summary of customer reviews on the web.

We would like to make your purchase decision easier and help you find the best stirrups for you.

You will also find answers to frequently asked questions in our guide. Furthermore, you will also find some important information on this page that you should pay attention to if you want to buy stirrups.




Summary

  • Stirrups not only make it easier to get on the horse, but also provide a good grip when riding.
  • If you feel insecure or are doing a discipline with a high risk of falling, you should think about using special safety stirrups.
  • The right stirrup length contributes significantly to a good fit. If you are unsure, you can ask your riding instructor for help in adjusting the stirrups.

The Best Stirrup: Our Picks

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying stirrups

Why do you need stirrups?

In equestrian sport, stirrups are mainly used for getting on the horse, because not every rider can do this without aids. Especially with big horses, you don't want to miss the stirrup.

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Stirrups offer the rider a good hold in the saddle. They are also an aid that makes it easier to get on the horse. (Photo: LunarSeaArt / pixabay.com)

Nowadays, however, it is customary - where possible - to mount the horse with steps or from a wall, as the one-sided strain of the stirrup is harmful to the horse's back and should therefore be avoided.

In addition to its function as a climbing aid, however, the stirrup has another task: it gives the rider support in the saddle.

Furthermore, stirrups allow the rider to move more freely: bending to the side without falling off and the light seat only became possible with the invention of stirrups. Thus, the stirrup is an important part of the equestrian equipment.

Of course, riding without stirrups is also possible and is already used in beginner lessons to train balance. However, this should only be done in enclosed areas and with calm horses.

The stirrup is usually attached to the saddle under the saddle flap. There is a special holder for this. Stirrups can be flexibly adjusted to suit riders of different sizes or the requirements of different equestrian disciplines.

What is the right size of stirrup?

To avoid accidents, the stirrup should be the right size. This depends on the width of the rider's shoe. The shoe or riding boot should fit easily into the stirrup.

If the stirrup is too narrow, the rider will not be able to get into the stirrup or, in the worst case, will get stuck in it. If a rider does not get out of the stirrup in time during a fall, he may be dragged along by the horse. This can lead to serious injuries.

If the stirrup is too wide, the rider's foot may slip through the stirrup. In this case, too, the rider gets caught in the stirrup in the event of a fall and cannot get out of the stirrup quickly enough.

Did you know that stirrups already existed in the time before Christ?

There are representations of horsemen in Mathura, India, dating from around 50 BC. Here, however, the representations still had loops or hooks. The first wooden or metal stirrups were not invented until the 4th-5th century AD in China.

To avoid such accidents, the stirrup should ideally be a little wider than the rider's shoe. Further safety precautions can be taken:

  • A heel on the shoe prevents the stirrup from slipping through.
  • The rubber inserts should be kept clean to prevent slipping in the stirrup.
  • For optimum grip, the rubber inserts in the stirrup should be replaced when they become too worn.

The following table shows which stirrup size fits your own shoe size:

Shoe size Stirrup size
to 34 10 cm
34 - 39 11 cm
over 39 12 cm

How much do stirrups cost?

Stirrups cost between ten and 150 euros. The decisive factors for the price differences are above all the presence of safety mechanisms and the quality of the material.

In principle, stirrups do not have to be expensive, but good quality and safety should be important. When you buy a saddle, you often get stirrups with it so that you can start riding straight away.

Stirrup type Price
Classic stirrup 15€ - 40€
Stirrup with elastic band 25€ - 70€
Stirrup with joint 30€ - 130€
Stirrup with foot cap 30€ - 40€
Twisted stirrup 40€ - 100€
Safety stirrup with folding mechanism 140€ - 280€

Decision: What types of stirrups are there and which one is right for you?

Basically, you can distinguish between six types of stirrups that are used in English riding:

  • Classic stirrups
  • Safety stirrups with rubber band
  • Safety stirrup with joint
  • Safety stirrups with foot cap
  • Turned stirrups
  • Safety stirrups with folding mechanism

With each type, the shape of the stirrup and thus also the safety while riding are different, resulting in individual advantages and disadvantages. Which stirrup is the right one for you depends above all on the equestrian discipline you want to practice and your individual preferences.

In order to support you in your decision and to find the best stirrup for you, we will present the different types of stirrups in more detail in the following section and list the advantages and disadvantages clearly.

What is a classic stirrup and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

Most riders ride with classic stirrups. These are usually made of stainless steel and have a rubber insert to prevent the foot from slipping in the stirrup.

The stirrup provides good support and safety while riding. This type of stirrup also looks very elegant because it is made of one material all around and has no rubber inserts or the like.

Advantages
  • Non-slip insert
  • Elegant look
  • Good hold
Disadvantages
  • Does not give in case of falls
  • Higher risk of getting stuck

The problem with a classic stirrup, however, is that it does not give way when the horse falls. So it can happen that the rider gets caught in the stirrup and is dragged along by the horse. Such accidents happen especially when the horse bolts, bucks or climbs and the rider loses his balance.

What is a safety stirrup with an elastic band and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

In this model, the outside of the stirrup is not made of stainless steel, but is replaced by a rubber band. When a lot of pressure is applied to the outside of the stirrup, the band loosens and releases the rider's foot.

This prevents the rider from getting caught in the stirrup even in the event of a fall. This version of the safety stirrup is relatively inexpensive.

Advantages
  • Quick yielding due to an inserted rubber band
  • Inexpensive
Disadvantages
  • Not an elegant look
  • Rubber can become brittle
  • Partial feeling of instability

However, safety stirrups with rubber bands do not look as elegant as classic stirrups. In the course of time, the rubber can also become brittle and must be replaced.

Some riders find the rubber band unstable and feel that the stirrup no longer gives good support. Whether a safety stirrup with rubber band is something for you, you should test for yourself. The important thing is that you always have a safe feeling.

What is a safety stirrup with a joint and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

With this type of stirrup, the legs are not firmly connected to the foot bar, but have two or four joints. These are hidden by rubber covers and are not directly visible from the outside.

Due to this construction, the stirrups simply bend to the side in the event of a fall and release the foot. Safety stirrups with joints are therefore particularly safe.

This type is ideal for beginners in particular, but they are also very popular among professionals - especially in show jumping and eventing, where the risk of falling is high. The stirrups also usually have a wide tread surface and bounce when ridden, making them particularly comfortable and easy on the joints.

Advantages
  • Safe in case of falls
  • Suitable for beginners
  • Popular in show jumping and eventing
  • Easy on the joints
Disadvantages
  • Incorrect mounting takes away the safety effect
  • Rubber covers are clearly visible

It is important with safety stirrups with joints that they are fitted the right way round on the saddle. If the wrong side faces outwards, the stirrups turn in the wrong direction and no longer provide safety in the event of a fall.

The look is a matter of taste. Since the rubber covers are clearly visible, the stirrups often look clunkier and not as elegant as classic models.

What is a safety stirrup with foot cap and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

This model of safety stirrup has a plastic "basket" on the front part of the stirrup. This can be bought and screwed on separately and prevents the foot from slipping through the stirrup.

In the event of a fall, the foot can only slip out of the stirrup in one direction. It is not possible for the foot to get caught.

Advantages
  • No slipping through the stirrup
  • Safety even in the event of a fall
  • Optimal for learning the correct foot position in the stirrup
Disadvantages
  • Visually very striking

Beginners can learn the correct foot position in the stirrup - on the ball of the foot. Many make the mistake at the beginning of their riding life and consciously or unconsciously push their foot too far into the stirrup.

This is not only dangerous, but also prevents a correct seat. The disadvantage of this model is that it is very conspicuous and therefore not everyone's cup of tea.

What is a turned stirrup and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

These stirrups, also called Icelandic stirrups, were designed primarily for riding gaited horses, but can generally be used for any horse. They are twisted forward on the outside and backward on the inside. In case of a fall, the foot slips out of the stirrup more easily and does not get caught.

Due to a special suspension, which is twisted by 90 degrees compared to classic stirrups, the stirrup lies flat against the horse and the stirrup leathers are not twisted.

If the rider loses his stirrup, he can pick it up again more easily thanks to this design and does not run the risk of the straps twisting.

Advantages
  • Designed for gaited horses
  • Foot rarely gets caught in the stirrup
  • Easy to pick up the stirrups
Disadvantages
  • Incorrect mounting takes away safety effect

The only prerequisite for the mechanism of the stirrup to work is that they are attached to the saddle the right way round. If this is not the case, the rider is more likely to get caught in the stirrup than to slide their foot out.

What is a safety stirrup with folding mechanism and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

Externally, the safety stirrup with folding mechanism cannot be distinguished from a classic stirrup.

However, it has a safety mechanism that is triggered if, for example, increased pressure is exerted on the stirrup legs in the event of a fall. Then the stirrup folds to the side and releases the foot.

Advantages
  • Visually inconspicuous
  • Reliable safety mechanism
Disadvantages
  • Relatively heavy Mechanism must be checked regularly
  • May squeak

The disadvantage of this stirrup is that the mechanism must be checked regularly to ensure that it is working properly. In addition, this type of safety stirrup may squeak if necessary. They are also relatively heavy.

Buying criteria: Use these factors to compare and evaluate stirrups

In the following we would like to show you which factors you can use to compare and evaluate stirrups. This will make it easier for you to decide whether a certain product is suitable for you or not.

In summary, these are:

  • Material
  • Size
  • Riding safety
  • Equestrian discipline

In the following paragraphs you can read about the individual purchase criteria and how you can classify them.

Material

The material of the stirrup plays an important role. It must be stable to give the foot the necessary support and it should last for a long time. There are several different materials on the market, each with its own advantages and disadvantages.

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Safety stirrups with joints offer optimal safety for the rider. In the event of a fall, the stirrup twists and prevents the foot from getting caught. (Photo: ceQuilibria / pixabay.com)

Above all, weight is an important consideration. With ultra-light plastic stirrups and other models, the weight of stirrups is now being reduced more and more. The problem is that a lightweight stirrup is difficult to pick up again if you lose it.

Since it does not have a high weight of its own, the light stirrup does not hang down constantly, but dangles more extremely on the horse's belly. So a too light weight is not optimal either.

Classic stirrups are made of stainless steel. This is robust and does not rust. This makes it particularly easy to care for. Due to its elegant, shiny appearance, the stainless steel stirrup is very popular and is most often used at tournaments. However, the material is relatively heavy.

Stirrups made of aluminium are lighter than those made of stainless steel, but otherwise have the same characteristics. They can be purchased in a wide variety of colours.

Plastic stirrups have a low weight and bounce easily. This can be comfortable and easy on the joints, but it prevents the rider from swinging along. Due to its lightweight construction, the plastic stirrup may break if overloaded. The designs, especially the colours, are very diverse with this material.

Stirrups made of leather are mainly used in western riding. These stirrups are very stable and wide to allow a comfortable foot position. However, the care of these stirrups is more intensive, because leather is very sensitive, especially when it comes into contact with moisture and dirt, and can lose its robustness if care is not taken.

Size

The right size of stirrup plays a decisive role. If it does not fit the rider's shoe width, bad accidents can occur. Therefore, you should make sure that the stirrup is not too narrow for your foot.

You should be able to put your shoe in the stirrup without help and without it pressing against your side. A stirrup is too wide when your whole foot can easily slide through the stirrup.

Did you know that each type of riding has different stirrups?

In English riding, mainly narrow metal stirrups with a non-slip rubber tread are used, and in Western riding the stirrups are covered with a thick wide leather cover. There are also safety stirrups, which are mostly used in cross-country riding, so that the foot does not get caught in the stirrup in an emergency.

The best stirrup leaves a little space to the left and right of the foot. Then the stirrup really improves safety when riding and protects you from getting caught. It also prevents the horse from dragging the stirrup in the event of a fall.

Safety when riding

The stirrup should provide safety when riding. Therefore, it is important that the rider can stand stably and comfortably in the stirrup. If you accidentally slip out of the stirrup, it must be possible to pick it up again quickly.

However, this can be difficult with particularly light models, as they rock up and down on the horse due to their light weight.

If the rider feels that the stirrup does not provide enough support or that it is uncomfortable, the stirrup should be replaced as soon as possible.

In the event of a fall, the stirrup must also be reliable in that it releases the foot as quickly as possible. Nowadays, there are various safety mechanisms on the market that are designed to ensure the greatest possible safety. Here, too, it is important that the rider feels comfortable.

In the case of stirrups that give way when too much pressure is applied - such as in the event of a fall - care should be taken to ensure that the mechanism does not trigger in everyday, normal situations and thus deprive the rider of foot support. In this case, serious accidents can occur because the rider is not prepared for them.

Decision according to equestrian discipline

For everyday dressage work, most riders use classic stirrups, which offer very good support and are also elegant and simple.

For show jumping or cross-country, many riders prefer safety stirrups. These can be equipped with very different mechanisms, but they have in common that they quickly release the rider's foot in case of a fall. It is virtually impossible to get caught.

In endurance riding, a stirrup has become established that looks similar to a stirrup in English riding, but has an extremely wide contact surface. This makes the foot position more comfortable in the long run.

In Western riding, the stirrups are usually integrated into the saddle. Unlike the stirrups used in English riding, western stirrups are made of leather. They are also wider so that you can sit comfortably and securely even on long rides.

Facts worth knowing about stirrups

When was the stirrup invented?

When, where and by whom the stirrup was invented has not yet been conclusively clarified. The first clues to the use of stirrups can be found in Indian paintings dating from around 50 BC. In these, riders are depicted placing their feet in loops and hooks.

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Western stirrups are made of leather and are particularly wide. (Photo: skeeze / pixabay.com)

From around 400 AD, stirrups made of wood and metal were used, which first spread in Asia. Through military campaigns, stirrups also came to Europe and were quickly adopted by the peoples there because of their advantages.

The use of stirrups was initially divided into two types: Steppe peoples stood in the stirrups and were thus able to relieve the strain on their horses' backs and keep their balance over long distances.

The other type of riding was used in knight fights. Here, the stirrups had to provide support and stability in the saddle.

How do you find the right stirrup length?

The correct stirrup length is a basic requirement for a correct, relaxed and loose seat on the horse. If the stirrup is set too short or too long, the rider's hips will be blocked and it will be impossible to swing along.

Therefore, every rider should pay attention to a correct and comfortable stirrup length.

How do you determine the correct dressage stirrup length? For a rough estimate, the rider can stand next to the saddled horse and place his fingertips against the stirrup bar. When the arm is extended, the stirrup should end exactly in the rider's armpit.

Another rough method to find the right length for the dressage stirrups is to let your legs dangle loosely while sitting on the horse.

The stirrup should end at the level of the rider's ankles. With both variations, the correct seat should be possible: the rider's shoulder, hip and heel must always form a line and the heel must be able to spring loosely.

The most important thing, however, is to feel the saddle while riding in order to assess whether the stirrups are too long or too short. The optimum stirrup length can vary depending on the saddle model, horse and rider.

If you are unsure which stirrup length is the right one, you should ask an experienced rider or a riding instructor.

Shorter stirrups are needed for jumping. For this purpose, the dressage stirrup is buckled a few holes shorter so that the knee rests securely against the thigh. Here too, however, the feeling and preferences of each individual rider play an important role.

In the case of children or small persons, it may be necessary to adjust the stirrups shorter than the last hole in the stirrup leathers allows. In this case, either additional holes should be punched or the stirrup should be folded over.

To do this, simply wrap the stirrup le athers once or twice around the upper part of the stirrup and then buckle them back as normal.

How should the foot be placed in the stirrup?

If the foot is too far forward in the stirrup, in extreme cases this would be only on the tips of the toes, the rider loses his footing.

Instead of sitting loosely, the rider starts to tense up and somehow holds on to the stirrup. In addition, the lower legs usually slip forward, which results in the wrong seat.

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The foot should always be in the stirrup at the widest point, namely the ball of the foot. Only in this way is a correct seat with a well-sprung heel possible. (Photo: Noah Silliman / unsplash.com)

If the foot is too far in the stirrup, the heel can no longer spring. This is a common mistake, especially among beginners. Usually, affected riders also try to stand in the stirrup and no longer swing with the horse's movements.

If the stirrup hangs down loosely, it must always be picked up from the outside. This way, the stirrup leathers turn with the leg and fit snugly against it. If the stirrup is taken up on the inside, the strap presses against the rider's shin, which is very uncomfortable and annoying.

What can you do if you slip in the stirrup or lose it?

If you cannot hold your stirrups securely, the first thing you should do is work on your seat.

Most of the time, such problems are either due to the rider being tense or - in the other extreme case - that the rider is not always able to maintain his body tension. In both cases, the heel cannot bounce down and the foot wobbles in the stirrup.

Experienced riding instructors can solve these problems by giving seat training (if necessary on the lunge) and individual tips. If the rider's seat improves, the foot will no longer slip out of the stirrup so easily.

If the seat is okay or if the problems only occur with certain stirrups, the rubber inserts should be checked. With intensive use, they can wear out and no longer provide optimal support.

Image source: Noah Silliman / unsplash.com

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