First Ride Reflections
If you’re a regular Horse Rookie reader, you know I’m a huge fan of equestrian safety gear—especially safety stirrups. That’s why I was delighted to receive a pair of Ophena S Pro magnetic stirrups to try and review. I’d heard positive things about the company and products, but I didn’t have any personal experience with magnetic stirrup systems.
(Note: I have not been compensated for this review, nor are there any affiliate links within the post.)
What are magnetic safety stirrups?
Before we get into the weeds of this review, let’s make sure we’re on the same page about what magnetic safety stirrups actually are—stirrups that integrate a magnetic system to connects the stirrups to the riding boots and include a safety feature that prevents the rider from getting caught in case of a fall.
There are different types of magnetic systems, some of which require special boots with metal plates. That presents some logistical challenges, though, as you can’t switch boots or have anyone else school your horse without swapping for traditional stirrups.
That’s why Ophena took a different approach, one which utilizes a special magnetic insole that allows riders to use their normal boots. But that’s not the only difference.
Ophena stirrups are completely open on the outside edge, removing the need for a mechanism that releases your foot in the event of a fall. Because the magnetic system holds the rider’s feet securely in the stirrups, there is no need for a fully closed stirrup.
A Fitting First Impression
Now that we understand the basics of magnetic stirrups, let’s discuss the unboxing experience. The first thing that became clear is how lovely the team is at Ophena. They included a sweet handwritten note with my stirrups, and the entire packaging presentation was beautiful.
Unboxing the stirrups was so fun, and I loved the attention to detail that went into every element of the packaging and marketing materials.
The box includes clear instructions about how to use the stirrups, which you should read carefully before saddling up.
I was shocked how thin and lightweight the boot insoles were—yet the magnets are quite powerful. Watch your fingers!
I ordered my normal boot size, and they fit perfectly in my tall riding boots. If you’re not sure what size to order, or if you need help converting your size to EU measurements, check out the chart below.
When I picked up the stirrups for the first time, I couldn’t get over the high-quality craftsmanship.
And that was before I noticed Ophena had custom engraved them for me. Swoon!
It’s tempting to immediately test holding the insoles near the stirrups, but beware. They’ll snap on quickly and hold tight—whether your fingers are in the way or not.
Don’t hold the stirrups near each other either, or they’ll become (strongly) attracted to each other.
Another feature I liked right away was the diamond grip footpads, an improved aspect of the Ophena S Pro. They offer greater security in the saddle and keep your foot from shifting as much as a traditional stirrup.
It was time to swap out my stirrups and give Ophena a try. Attaching the stirrups was easy enough, thanks to the Smart Attach™ system. Check out the video below to see how it works.
Then I ran into a snag. I have thicker leathers, which meant I couldn’t run up the Ophena stirrups the way they’re intended to be stored (i.e. run up the top leather). Hmm.
Alternatively, I tried to run up the stirrup on the back leather (normal width) and secure them by putting the leather under the stirrup and feeding the end of the leather through it and the keeper.
I hoped that would be secure enough to lunge my young horse before riding without the stirrups flapping around.
After only a few circles on the lunge line, the leathers came loose and the stirrups began moving downward and bumping my pony’s sides.
If you plan to lunge (and have oversized leathers), you’ll need to remove these stirrups each time. Not a huge deal, but it’s something to be aware of if you’re switching to Ophena.
At this point in the review, I should be clear about the type of pony I’m riding. My advanced horse has been lame for several months, so I’ve spent this Spring working with my new jumping prospect.
He’s a 14.1hh, 7-year-old green-broke Azteca gelding. He doesn’t stand still at the mounting block yet, lacks reliable steering and brakes, and struggles with speed.
In other words, he’s a pretty challenging ride at the moment!
This explains why I struggled to mount with the magnetic stirrups. It’s not uncommon to put my foot in and out of the stirrups 5-10x while correcting and adjusting my pony’s position.
If your horse is antsy at the mounting block, you may find it challenging to correct their behavior. I need to be able to slip my foot in and out of my stirrups quickly, but magnetic stirrups don’t allow this.
On the other hand, if that’s not as important to you—you might like hopping on and immediately having your feet secured in the stirrups.
Here’s a video showing how the stirrup attracts to the boot insole.
In the Saddle
From the first lap around the arena, I could tell magnetic stirrups take some getting used to. I found myself reaching down often to manually adjust where the stirrups attached under the ball of my foot.
I didn’t realize how much I reposition my feet when I ride… until I couldn’t!
If you’re trying to keep your feet from moving around, you’ll love these right away. If you’re schooling a little freight train, like I was, you might feel anxious not being able to adjust your feet.
I also hadn’t noticed how often my feet move vertically during a ride. Now, every time I lifted my knee and leg, the stirrup came with it. I was actually a little sore from the weight of the stirrups the next day.
This will vary with every person, but it was interesting to learn just how much my leg and foot (apparently) move when I ride.
I had no issues keeping the insole magnet and stirrups connected at any gait, and my feet were completely secure. So if you frequently lose your stirrups on the flat or over jumps, a magnet system may be the answer.
One quick tip: Lower your stirrups one hole when you use the Ophena stirrups.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What if I need my trainer to ride sometimes?
The easiest solution is to purchase a pair of Ophena boot insoles for your trainer. That way he or she can use your magnetic stirrups. You can buy an extra pair of insoles here.
Q: Are these good stirrups for riding green horses?
Personally, I would prefer using Ophena stirrups with my finished horse. With my greenie, I like the ability to move my feet in and out of the stirrups quickly depending on the situation.
For dressage riders and jumpers with well-trained horses, Ophena stirrups could be a great option.
Q: How do you release your foot from the stirrup?
Lift your heel and roll your toe forward and out to disengage the magnet system. This takes some practice.
Equestrian gear is getting “smarter” all the time, and the technology behind the Ophena stirrups is cutting edge. The company cares deeply about the quality and performance of their products, and I’m confident these stirrups will last for many years.
My lesson partner has already asked to borrow them, at least until my finished horse is back to work!
Want to try them for yourself? Check out the Ophena website to order your stirrups with a 60-day risk-free trial.
P.S. Enjoy this article? Trot on over to:
- Magnetic safety stirrups demystified
- How Safety Stirrups Work (Pros/Cons, Uses, Features, Brands)
- 5 Best Dressage Stirrups for Perfect Leg Position
- 7 Best Safety Stirrups for Adults (Uses, Features, Reviews)
- Best Stirrups for Jumping Clear (And Staying Safe)
- Can you put English stirrups on a Western saddle?