How can I shorten my stirrups while riding?

Do you want to find out how to make your stirrups shorter for a more comfortable and effective ride? Whether you're competing in a specific event or simply seeking a better fit for your saddle, adjusting your stirrups can make a significant difference in your riding experience.

Girl on horse shortening stirrup leathers


In this article, we'll walk you through the step-by-step process of making your stirrups shorter while mounted, ensuring your safety and the well-being of your horse. 

Why is correct stirrup length important?

Before we delve into the details of making your stirrups shorter, let's understand why the correct stirrup length is crucial for equestrians. Whether you're participating in events like horse shows, the length of your stirrups plays a vital role in your overall balance, stability, and effectiveness in the saddle.

Different events and disciplines require different stirrup lengths. For example, in showjumping a shorter stirrup allows for better control and maneuverability when jumping fences. On the other hand, dressage riders may prefer longer stirrups to maintain a more extended leg position and facilitate precise movements.

How to adjust stirrups while you're mounted on the horse?

It's essential to learn how to safely and efficiently adjust your safety stirrups while mounted on a horse. Its a fundamental skill every equestrian should possess. Not only does it save you time, but it can also eliminate the need to dismount and remount just to change the stirrup length (whether its to shorten or lengthen).

Let's explore the five easy steps to make your stirrups shorter while still in the saddle.

Step 1: Maintain safety and control

Safety should always be your top priority when adjusting your stirrups while mounted. Before making any adjustments, ensure that you have a secure grip on the reins and that your foot remains in the iron.

By keeping your foot in the stirrup and maintaining contact with the reins, you'll be prepared for any sudden movements or spooks from your horse.

Step 2: Position your leg forward

The first step for adjusting your stirrups while mounted is to swing your leg forward so that it lies on or in front of the flap of your saddle. This position mimics adjusting your girth and allows for easier access to the stirrup leathers.

Step 3: Choose the correct length

Now it's time to make the necessary changes to your stirrup length. Pick the side you want to adjust, and use the hand on that side to pull the front strap of the leather downward. If you need significant adjustments, you may need to remove the tail end of the leather from the leather keeper to create more flexibility and ease.

By pulling the front strap, you will be able to move the buckle which is located next to the stirrup bar.

Step 4: choosing the right hole

Once the buckle is within reach, move it up or down with your hand until you find the hole that best suits your desired safety stirrup length. Take your time to ensure that the chosen hole provides the comfort and stability you need for your specific riding discipline.

Step 5: Readjust and check for comfort

After you have picked the right and appropriate hole, pull down on the back side of the leathers, which allows the buckle to return to its resting position next to the stirrup bar.

If you removed the excess leather from the keeper, be sure to slip the tail end back into the leather keeper to prevent any tangling or discomfort. Finally, bring your leg back down and ensure that your stirrup leathers are smooth and correct length.

Frequently asked questions

To further enhance your understanding of stirrup adjustment, let's address some commonly asked questions about stirrup length and its impact on your riding experience.

How long should my stirrups be?

The perfect stirrup length depends on various factors, such as the saddle type, riding discipline, and rider conformation. For instance, showjumpers may require shorter stirrups, while dressage riders often prefer longer stirrups.

It's essential to find a length that highlights comfort, balance, and effectiveness in the saddle. Experimentation and guidance from experienced riders or trainers can help you determine the best stirrup length for your specific needs.

Is there a way to test the length of my stirrups before mounting my horse?

While not an exact science, many riders find that measuring their arm's length provides a decent starting point for stirrup length. Simply touch your fingertips to the stirrup bar and adjust the stirrup length so that the bottom of the stirrup iron aligns with your armpit. This method can serve as a rough estimate, but keep in mind that individual preferences and riding disciplines may require slight modifications.

Should the extra length of the stirrup leather go in the keeper?

If the safety stirrup leathers are long enough to reach the leather keeper, it is generally recommended to secure it in the keeper. This helps prevent the excess leather from getting tangled or causing discomfort.

However, if having the extra length under your leg feels more comfortable and doesn't interfere with your riding, it is acceptable to leave it untucked. Ensure that the excess leather doesn't hinder your leg position or affect your ability to communicate effectively with your horse.

Practice makes perfect

Adjusting your stirrups to the appropriate length is a simple yet crucial skill for every equestrian. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can ensure your safety, comfort, and effectiveness in the saddle.

Remember to consider the requirements of your specific riding discipline, seek guidance from experienced riders or trainers, and prioritize your own comfort and stability.

If you're on the hunt for the perfect stirrup leathers, don't forget to take a look at our stirrup leather collection. You will find excellent quality stirrup leathers in different colors - and our customers love them!