Don’t let bad stirrups cut your adventure short
Trail riding is a broad term that encompasses a variety of experiences. It could mean a leisurely, relaxed ride around your pasture, or a multi-day trek through rugged terrain in a variety of weather conditions. Having the right tack and equipment is essential for a fun, safe ride.
One piece of trail tack that is often overlooked is your stirrups.
For trail riding, you want a stirrup that is going to be comfortable for hours in the saddle, provide traction in all kinds of conditions, and protect you from getting your foot caught in case of a fall. This article discusses stirrups that excel on the trail.
The table below summarizes key features—read on for detailed information on each!
|1||West||Tucker Ergo Balance Trail Glide Stirrups||$$||No||Good|
|2||West||Tough 1 Swivel & Lock Endurance Stirrup||$$||No||Good|
|3||West||AJ Tack Wholesale Polymer Trail Stirrup||$||No||Good|
|4||West||Tough 1 Easy Out Safety Stirrups||$$||Yes||OK|
|5||West||Tucker Hooded Ergo Balance Trail Glide||$$$||Yes||Good|
|6||Eng||MDC Ultimate Intelligence Stirrup||$$$||No||Good|
|7||Eng||Peacock Fillis Quick Release Stirrup||$||Yes||OK|
Tucker Ergo Balance Trail Glide Stirrups
This stirrup is designed with comfort in mind. If you spend long periods of time in the saddle, or experience ankle or knee pain, these stirrups might be worth a try! They are lightweight with a wide base for extra support. The foot cushion is thicker than average, which helps with shock absorption for a more comfortable ride.
Most notable is the angled top bar, designed to keep the rider’s foot in a level position. This helps alleviate strain on the ankles and knees.
- These stirrups come with a moderate price tag. They won’t break the bank but are a little steeper than more of an entry-level product
- This design doesn’t include any additional safety features. Always ride in a boot with a heel
- Designed for comfort with an angled top bar, wide base, and extra cushion for your foot
Tough 1 Swivel & Lock Endurance Stirrup
This stirrup is designed to swivel so you can change the angle for a more comfortable ride. Adjusting the angle alleviates strain on your knees and ankles. For example, rotating the stirrup 90 degrees would position the stirrup at a right angle to your horse’s side, while allowing the fender to lie flat.
It features a wider foot base combined with a cushioned rubber insert for better shock absorption.
- This product has a lot of features for a moderate price tag
- These stirrups don’t have any additional safety features, so be sure to ride in a boot with a 1” heel
- The swivel feature combined with a wider, cushioned base should maximize comfort and minimize ankle/knee strain
AJ Tack Wholesale Polymer Trail Stirrup
These stirrups are designed with the endurance rider in mind. Weighing in at 1 lb per stirrup, they are lighter than some of the other options listed herein. The foot pads are 1 ¼” thick to maximize knee and ankle comfort.
These are also some of the widest stirrups we’ve seen—the foot pad measures 4 ¾” x 4” for maximum shock absorption.
- Our most economical option, these stirrups are an inexpensive upgrade to standard stirrups
- No additional safety features here, so ride in boots with a heel
- These stirrups will be a step up from standard stirrups, in terms of comfort, as they have a very wide, cushioned base.
- Customers rave about them!
Tough 1 Easy Out Safety Stirrup
These stirrups are made from high-quality aluminum and feature a rubber grip tread. They are designed with safety in mind, providing a quick-release like function. If pressure is applied to the outside of the stirrup, the spring loaded outside release will open the side of the stirrup to prevent you from getting hung up and potentially dragged.
Overall, there are limited options for safety-release Western style stirrups. This is an exception!
- These stirrups come with a moderate price tag. Customers say they are worth the extra money for peace of mind
- This option prioritizes safety with a spring-release feature to prevent your foot from being caught in the stirrup in the event of a fall
- While these stirrups have a rubber grip, they are designed for safety and don’t include additional comfort considerations
Tucker Hooded Ergo Balance Trail Glide
These are the only Western stirrups on our list that offer both safety and comfort features! That said, they also come in at the highest price point. While they are made with lightweight anodized aluminum alloy, the leather hood adds weight so customers have noted they are a bit heavy.
The leather hood protects the rider’s foot from any trailside obstacles, and from the foot slipping through the stirrup and getting stuck in the event of a fall. The angled top bar helps keep the stirrup level to alleviate knee & ankle fatigue.
The foot cushion is thicker than normal with a wider base for improved shock absorption.
- Our most expensive Western stirrup option, customers believe these are worth the price tag as they have both comfort and safety features
- These stirrups protect the foot from trailside hazards and from the foot sliding through the stirrup and becoming stuck.
- That said, you should still wear boots with a 1” heel!
- Designed with an angled top bar and wider, cushioned base, these stirrups are known to alleviate strain on your ankles and knees
MDC Stainless Ultimate Intelligence Stirrup
These English-style stirrups have a lot going on—they allow you to rotate the top bar to three pre-set options; traditional, 45 degrees, and 90 degrees. At the 90 degree option, the stirrup hangs perpendicular to your horse, allowing the stirrup leather to lie flat against your saddle. This design relieves pressure on hips, knees and ankles providing for a more comfortable ride.
Additionally, the stainless steel sides of the stirrups flex, allowing the foot tread to move.
Both of these features combined help improve your overall leg and foot position.
- The additional features these stirrups offer over traditional irons don’t come cheap—these are one of our more expensive options. That said, I’ve personally been riding in these irons for more than five years and believe they are worth every penny!
- These stirrup irons don’t offer any additional safety features. Be sure your stirrup leather will easily detach from your saddle in the event of a fall to reduce the risk of getting dragged
- The MDC stirrup was designed with comfort in mind. The ability to flex the stirrup base provides additional shock absorption. The ability to rotate the top bar alleviates strain on knees.
Peacock Fillis Quick Release Stirrup Irons
The “peacock style” quick release stirrup design is a tried-and-true safety stirrup option. The rubber band will snap in the event of a fall, preventing your foot from being caught in the stirrup. These stirrups add an element of safety for a low price point.
This particular design is relatively easy to find, as several different brands offer similar products.
- Our most economical option for English riders, this stirrup comes in at a relatively low price point
- This stirrup maximizes safety as it is designed to prevent your foot from becoming caught in the stirrup
- If you’re looking for additional comfort, this stirrup may not be the best option as it doesn’t offer any upgraded comfort features
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What are trail stirrups?
Trail stirrups may differ from standard stirrups by including design elements to increase comfort and/or safety. For example, some trail stirrups will have a wider foot cushion for shock absorption and support, beneficial if you’ll be in the saddle for long periods of time.
Other designs may feature a hood or a “cage” to keep your foot from sliding through the stirrup and to protect from objects like trees or bushes that you may encounter on the side of the trail.
Q: How long should your stirrups be for trail riding?
Generally speaking, when you take your feet out of the stirrups, the bottom of the stirrup should be in line with your ankle bone. You should have a slight bend in your knee.
If your stirrups are too long, you won’t be able to get weight in your heel. “Heels down” is important because it helps center your weight around the horse, instead of perched on top, which is a more secure position.
Q: Do slanted stirrups help knees?
Slanted, or angled stirrups are designed to alleviate knee and ankle fatigue by changing the position of the stirrup. Another feature that may help with knee and ankle discomfort is a shock-absorbing foot pad.
Q: Are flexible stirrups safe?
Flexible stirrups are unique in that they let the bottom part of the stirrup freely move back and forth with the movement of your ankles and legs. They greatly improve flexibility and comfort. Some riders feel they’re safer because they let you move more freely with your horse, especially over jumps.
They have the added benefit of being safer during a fall. Because the move and twist with your foot, your foot can more easily come free from the stirrups should you experience a fall.
Q: Are angled stirrups better?
Angled stirrups can make a world of difference for riders who suffer from ankle, leg, hip, or even back pain while riding. Angled stirrups allow the leathers to lay flatter against your leg which eases the strain on your back and legs.
Another benefit of angled stirrups is they can be easier to find if you lose a stirrup or intentionally drop them, like in an equitation class. The angle also helps you get your foot in when mounting. Dressage riders tend to turn the stirrup so the angle faces in, allowing for a deeper set, while jumpers wear the angle out, for improved knee grip.
There are a lot of stirrup choices out there, some designed specifically for trail riding. Trade-offs include price, safety features, and design for comfort. Balance your budget against the type of trails you plan to ride on to pick what features to prioritize. Rest assured, each of these options came with positive customer reviews.
One last suggestion? Regardless of safety features, always ride in a boot with a heel!
P.S. Enjoy this article? Trot on over to:
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