Stirrups that hang parallel to the horse do not accommodate the natural position of your feet when sitting in the saddle. They continually force you to twist your feet to get the stirrup leathers turned around to the more comfortable perpendicular orientation to the horse.
This constant struggle takes a heavy toll upon your knees (as well as your mood). A change in the direction of the stirrups makes all the difference in the world. Stirrups that hang at a 90 degree angle to the horse allow you to keep your feet in their natural position without having to wage this constant war against your gear.
The good news is that most custom-made stirrups and some high-end manufactured ones use swivels or other mechanisms to keep the stirrups at the correct 90 degree angle to the leathers. The bad news is that many stirrups manufactured today, as well as most of the older models, still feature the awkward parallel position.
To save your knees and your sanity, it is a good idea to turn any problematic stirrups to the proper forward-facing position. The method works on the same principle used when stretching out shoes that are too small. Follow these steps to get your unruly stirrups under control:
• Secure your saddle on a saddle stand.
• Stick a heavy broomstick, piece of wood, or other suitable item at hand through both stirrups, twisting so that the stirrup leathers face backwards and the stirrups face forward. Whatever you use must be heavy enough to hold the gear in place and long enough to fit through both stirrups. If the stirrups or leathers do not hold fast when you release the stick, use something heavier.
• Leave the stick and stirrups in place for at least a week to train your stirrups to stay turned.
• To make the leathers more pliant, you can rub neatsfoot oil on them twice a month or so.
• Repeat the “training session” every time you store your stirrups to keep them turned in the right direction.
The best thing you can do for your stirrups is to maintain them properly. They are small pieces of equipment that have a big impact on your comfort and safety.
Back to English Saddle Stirrups