3 best stirrups for kids - pros and cons

As a parent of a young equestrian, you know how important it is to provide them with the right equipment for a safe and enjoyable riding experience. Safety stirrups are a crucial piece of equipment that can greatly affect a child's comfort and safety while riding. Different stirrup designs offer unique benefits and features that can impact a child's comfort, safety, and riding experience. 

In this article, we will compare and contrast three popular safety stirrup options for kids: peacock stirrups, SOFT'UP LITE Freejump stirrups, and Ophena S stirrups.

Before we continue, what are safety stirrups?

There are multiple different kinds of models and brands out there, and each one of them have their own pros and cons. Also, the level of safety they provide differs and it is good to know that the term "safety stirrup" is not a regulated term. There are no standardised tests or requirements on what a safety stirrup is and can offer. As a consequence any brand can call their stirrup a "safety stirrup" without any proof of its effectiveness. Keep this in mind when comparing safety stirrups. 

That brings us to our comparison:

1. Peacock stirrups


Tuff Rider Stainless Steel Peacock Stirrups
Check them out on Amazon.

Peacock stirrups are a classic (and cheap) option for young riders. They have a rubber band that stretches and releases in case of an emergency, such as a fall. This feature allows the rider's foot to be released from the stirrup, reducing the risk of being dragged by the horse. However, the rubber band may also cause the rider's foot to become trapped in the stirrup, resulting in the rider being dragged behind the horse. Here are the pros and cons of peacock stirrups:


  • Affordable
  • Classic design
  • Safety feature that should release foot in case of an emergency


  • Rubber band may still cause the foot to become trapped in the stirrup (many cases of failure known)
  • The attachment area can be sharp and kids have gotten hurt during a fall
  • Known to bend over time (but acceptable given the price)
  • Many manufacturers produce this design, often competing for price. So quality can be an issue


2. Freejump Soft’Up Lite 

Freejump safety stirrups
Check them out on Amazon.

Soft'Up Lite Freejump stirrups are a popular option for young riders who prioritize comfort and safety. They have a unique design that is supposed to reduce the risk of knee and ankle pain. The stirrups's studs are also replaceable, which is nice. The Soft'Up Lite Freejump stirrups are lightweight, durable, and have a safety flexible outer branch, that should bend open and release the feet in case of a fall. They are a good choice for children who want to ride comfortably and safely. However, the cost of these stirrups may be a significant factor for some families, as they are relatively expensive compared to other options.


  • Shock absortion integrated in the stirrup body
  • Lightweight and durable
  • Replaceable studs
  • Flexible outer branch provides fair safety


  • Expensive compared to other options
  • May not fit all types of saddles / stirrup leathers
  • Safety mechanism may not always work. The opening angle is not as wide as that of other stirrups.


3. Ophena S Magnetic Stirrups

Magnetic safety stirrup Ophena S

Ophena S stirrups are a newer design that has gained popularity in recent years. These stirrups, made in stainless steel, use a unique magnetic system in addition to a simple traditional grip. That, in combination with their open side, allows the stirrups to detach from the rider's feet in case of a fall, reducing the risk of getting caught and being dragged.

The stirrups work with magnetic insoles that are placed inside the rider's boots, creating a secure grip for a comfortable riding experience. The insoles come in a large range of sizes, and as the rider grows, they can replace the insoles instead of the entire stirrup, making the Ophena S a cost-effective option in the long run.

These stirrups come in silver or black, and can be personalised with engraving, making them a great choice for children who want to express their individuality. The engraving is also a great deterrent for thieves!


  • Innovative magnetic system for a very high level of safety
  • Secure grip for a comfortable riding experience
  • Durable stainless steel body
  • Possibility of personalization
  • Interchangeable magnetic insoles that can be replaced as the rider grows


  • Not in everyone's budget
  • Not approved for FEI dressage shows (but FEI showjumping legal)


What to consider when choosing stirrups for a kid

When selecting stirrups for kids, safety should be the top priority. Here are some things to consider:

  • Size: Choose stirrups that are the right size for your child's foot to prevent their foot from getting stuck. Stirrups that are too small or too big can be dangerous and uncomfortable.
  • Comfort: Look for stirrups that provide comfort for your child. Wider footbeds or stirrups with shock-absorbing features can help reduce discomfort and fatigue during longer rides.
  • Durability: Kids can be rough on equipment, so choose stirrups that are durable and able to withstand wear and tear. Look for stirrups made from high-quality materials that are built to last.
  • Ease of maintenance: Consider how easy the stirrups are to clean and maintain. Choose stirrups that are easy to wipe down and don't require a lot of maintenance. This can save time and money in the long run.

By considering these factors when selecting stirrups for your child, you can ensure that they have a safe, comfortable, and durable riding experience.


Frequently asked questions

Does my child need safety stirrups?

Absolutely! Safety stirrups are designed to reduce the risk of injury in case of a fall, particularly for beginner riders or children who may be more prone to falling off their horse. If your child is just starting out in their riding journey or if they tend to fall off frequently, safety stirrups could be a good investment.

What other equipment should I buy for my child?

In addition to stirrups, there are a few key pieces of safety equipment that are important for young riders to have:

  1. Helmet: A properly fitting helmet is the most important piece of safety equipment for any rider, but particularly children!
  2. Body protectors: Body protectors, also known as safety vests, are designed to protect the rider's torso in case of a fall. Look for a vest that is approved by the appropriate safety standards for your discipline of riding.
  3. Gloves: Riding gloves can provide added grip on the reins and protect the hands from blisters or rubbing. Look for gloves that are specifically designed for riding and provide a snug fit. 

Can I try safety stirrups before buying?

It's always a good idea to test out a product before making a purchase to ensure that it meets your expectations and works well for your specific needs. Some brands and retailers offer the possibility to try the stirrups out and return them if they are not for you. For example, the Ophena S stirrups come with a 60-day money-back guarantee, so if you try them and decide they're not for you, you can return them for a full refund within 60 days of purchase. This allows you to test them out in a variety of riding situations and see how they perform before committing to keeping them.


In conclusion...

Safety stirrups are an essential piece of equipment for children who ride horses. With the right stirrups, children can enjoy their riding experience while minimizing the risk of injury in the event of a fall.

It's important to choose stirrups that are the right size for your child's foot and provide comfort, durability, and ease of maintenance. There are several types of safety stirrups available for children, including the Ophena S stirrups, Peacock stirrups, and Freejump Soft'Up Lite stirrups. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages, so it's important to do your research and choose the stirrups that are best for your child's riding needs and abilities.

Remember to prioritize safety above all else when selecting stirrups for your child, and consider investing in other safety equipment such as helmets and body protectors to further reduce the risk of injury while riding. With the right safety equipment and proper supervision, children can enjoy the many benefits of horse riding while staying safe and protected.


If you still have questions or want to know more, visit our help center or contact us via email or social media!