Complete guide to safety stirrups: why are safety stirrups so important

While riding horses is fun for both children and adults, it’s essential to take into account all risks associated with horseback riding. To mitigate these risks, riders take various measures to ensure their safety. One such measure is the use of safety stirrups.

Safety stirrups are designed to release the rider's foot quickly and easily in the event of a fall, which can prevent them from getting caught and potentially dragged behind the horse.

In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the world of safety stirrups, exploring what they are, how they work, and why they are essential for riders of all disciplines. If you don’t have your own safety stirrups yet, dive into our article and find out why you should get them too.

Understanding safety stirrups - what are they?

Safety stirrups are a specialized type of stirrup that incorporates a release mechanism to free the rider's foot during a fall. These stirrups are specifically designed to prevent the foot from getting caught in the stirrup, which can lead to serious injuries.

There are several different types of safety stirrups available on the market, each with its unique features and mechanisms. Let's take a closer look at some of the most popular options.

Peacock stirrups

Peacock stirrups are the most traditional type of safety stirrups. They can be recognized by a rubber band on the outside of the stirrup, which acts as a release mechanism. In the event of a fall, the rubber band stretches or breaks, allowing the foot to come out of the stirrup. Peacock stirrups are often recommended for children due to their simplicity and effectiveness.

Shaped irons

Shaped irons are another type of safety stirrup that has gained popularity in recent years. These stirrups feature a distinctive bend or shape, which helps prevent the foot from becoming trapped in the stirrup during a fall. Shaped irons offer a level of reassurance without the full breakaway effect, making them a more affordable option compared to other safety stirrups.

Breakaway stirrups

Breakaway stirrups represent the latest advancements in safety stirrup design. These stirrups incorporate flexible or mechanical arms that release the foot when subjected to uneven pressure during a fall. Many breakaway stirrups also feature additional technical elements, which results in a wide range of options with varying price points.

The flexibility and reliability of breakaway stirrups make them a popular choice among riders of all disciplines including dressage and showjumping.
Now that we have a basic understanding of safety stirrups and their various designs, let's explore how these stirrups work and the benefits they offer to riders.

Magnetic safety stirrup

Magnetic safety stirrups are a relatively new type of stirrup compared to many other safety stirrup types. For instance, Ophena S and Ophena S Pro are magnetic safety stirrups with an open design that allow the rider’s foot to release easier in case of a fall.

How do safety stirrups work?

Safety stirrups operate on the principle of releasing the rider's foot in the event of a fall. The specific mechanisms of each stirrup type vary depending on the design and brand of the stirrup. Let's take a closer look at some of the common features and mechanisms found in safety stirrups.

Release mechanisms

Safety stirrups utilize different release mechanisms to allow for the quick and easy release of the rider's foot. Peacock stirrups rely on a rubber band that stretches or breaks under pressure, freeing the foot from the stirrup.

Other safety stirrups may have a mechanism on the outside of the stirrup that opens when pressure is applied, allowing the foot to be released. The goal of these mechanisms is to prevent the foot from becoming trapped and potentially causing injury.

Flexibility and breakability

Many safety stirrups are designed to be flexible or breakable, allowing for the easy release of the foot during a fall. This flexibility or breakability is achieved through the use of specialized materials or innovative designs. For example, some safety stirrups have a flexible outer side that bends or opens under pressure, while others may have a breakable joint that releases the foot.

Ergonomic design

In addition to their safety mechanisms, safety stirrups often feature ergonomic designs that enhance the rider's comfort and stability. Many safety stirrups have wider footbeds or angled treads that help maintain the correct leg position and provide better support for the foot. These ergonomic features not only contribute to the rider's overall comfort but also promote a safer riding experience in general.

Advantages of safety stirrups: why should I use safety stirrups?

Using safety stirrups offers a range of advantages for riders of all disciplines. Let's look at some of the key benefits that safety stirrups provide:

Enhanced safety

The primary advantage of safety stirrups is the increased level of safety they provide for riders. By incorporating release mechanisms, safety stirrups can significantly reduce the risk of the rider's foot becoming trapped in the stirrup during a fall.

This can prevent serious injuries and potential accidents, such as being dragged by the horse. Safety stirrups provide riders with peace of mind and confidence, allowing them to focus on their riding without worrying about their foot getting caught.


Safety stirrups are available in a wide range of designs, styles, and price points, making them suitable for riders of all disciplines. Whether you're a showjumper, eventer, trail rider, or dressage rider, there are safety stirrups specifically designed to meet your needs.

Riders can choose from various features, such as different release mechanisms, designs, and customizable options. This versatility ensures that every rider can find safety stirrups that suit their preferences and requirements.

Compliance with competition regulations

For riders who compete at shows, safety stirrups offer the advantage of compliance with competition regulations. While some safety stirrups may not be permitted in certain competitions, many modern safety stirrups are approved for use at shows.

They meet the necessary standards for safety while also adhering to the rules and regulations. This allows riders to participate in competitions with confidence, knowing that their equipment is both safe and compliant.

Improved comfort and stability

Safety stirrups often feature ergonomic designs that enhance the rider's comfort and stability. Wider footbeds, angled treads, and specialized materials provide better support and shock absorption, reducing the strain on the rider's joints and promoting a more secure position in the saddle. The improved comfort and stability offered by safety stirrups can enhance the overall riding experience, allowing riders to perform at their best and minimize the risk of fatigue or discomfort.

Choosing the right safety stirrups

When it comes to selecting safety stirrups, there are several factors to consider. Each rider has unique preferences and requirements, so it's important to choose safety stirrups that align with your specific needs. Here are some key considerations to keep in mind when selecting safety stirrups:

Safety mechanism

First, consider the type of safety mechanism that the stirrups employ. Peacock stirrups, shaped irons, magnetic safety stirrups and breakaway stirrups each have their own release mechanisms, and it's essential to choose one that you feel confident and comfortable with. Consider the level of breakability or flexibility that you prefer and ensure that the safety mechanism aligns with your riding style and discipline.

Comfort and fit

Safety stirrups should offer a comfortable and secure fit for the rider. Pay attention to the design of the footbed, ensuring that it provides adequate support and grip. Consider the size and weight of the stirrups to ensure they are suitable for your riding needs.

Additionally, check for any additional features that enhance comfort, such as shock absorption, integrated dampening, or specialized materials.

Compliance with regulations

If you participate in competitions, it's crucial to choose safety stirrups that comply with the regulations set by the national equestrian federation. Check the rules and guidelines of the competitions you plan to participate in to ensure that the safety stirrups you choose are approved for use. This will prevent any issues or disqualification during competitions and ensure that you can ride with confidence.


Safety stirrups are available at various price points, so it's essential to consider your budget when making a selection. While safety is paramount, it's important to choose stirrups that offer value for money. Consider the features, materials, and durability of the stirrups in relation to their price to make an informed decision.


Safety stirrups are a crucial piece of equipment for riders of all disciplines. Their release mechanisms and ergonomic designs offer enhanced safety, comfort, and stability, allowing riders to enjoy their equestrian pursuits with confidence. Whether you choose peacock stirrups, shaped irons, magnetic safety stirrups or breakaway stirrups, selecting the right safety stirrups for your needs is essential.

Consider the safety mechanisms, comfort, compliance with regulations, and your budget when making your decision. By prioritizing your safety and investing in quality safety stirrups, you can enjoy your riding experiences to the fullest while minimizing the risks associated with riding.