Practical tips for choosing the right stirrups for riding regardless of discipline

When it comes to horse riding, finding the right stirrups is essential for comfort, safety, and overall performance in the saddle. With a wide variety of options available in the market, it can be challenging to navigate through the choices.

Magnetic safety stirrup on saddle


In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the key factors to consider when choosing stirrups, the different types available, and how to determine the ideal size for your foot. By the end, you'll be equipped with the knowledge to find the perfect stirrups for your equestrian adventures.

Factors to consider when choosing stirrups

Before diving into the different types of stirrups and safety stirrups, it's important to understand the key factors to consider when making your selection. These factors will help ensure that you find stirrups that provide optimal support, stability, and safety. Here are the essential considerations:

Strength and stability of the material

Stirrups are subjected to significant forces, so it's crucial to choose a pair that can withstand the pressure. Look for stirrups made of high-quality materials such as stainless steel, which offer durability and resistance to weather and corrosion.

Weight of the stirrup

The weight of the stirrup plays a role in both comfort and functionality. While personal preference may vary, it's generally recommended to avoid stirrups that are too light, as they can swing and become difficult to retrieve if lost during riding. Improve your balance by selecting stirrups that provide stability without being overly heavy.

Tread surface characteristics

The tread surface of a stirrup is crucial for providing grip and support to the rider's foot. Beginners, in particular, should prioritize a secure foot placement to enhance balance and prevent slipping. Depending on the stirrup model, the tread pad may be fixed or replaceable. Rubber pads are gentle on saddles, while metal inserts offer superior grip, especially in wet conditions. Consider your specific needs and preferences when evaluating the tread surface options.

Additional safety features

While no stirrup can offer 100% safety, there are various models with additional safety features to consider. Safety stirrups, such as those with an opening mechanism or side openings, can provide extra security in the event of a fall. However, it's crucial to ensure that the safety stirrups you choose are of high quality and not cheap imitations. Inferior materials used in stirrups can rust or break, posing a safety risk for both the rider and the horse.

Consideration for horse safety

When choosing stirrups, it's essential to consider the impact on your horse's safety as well. Certain stirrup designs, such as those with openings or breaking mechanisms, may inadvertently cause injuries to the horse in case of a fall. Always evaluate how a stirrup's design and function may affect your horse's well-being.

Types of riding stirrups

Now that you understand the key factors to consider, let's explore the different types of riding stirrups available in the market. Each type offers unique features and benefits, catering to different riding styles and preferences. Here are some popular options:

1. Fillis stirrup irons

Fillis stirrup irons are a classic choice for various equestrian disciplines, both in and out of the show ring. They are typically made of stainless steel, providing durability and strength. These stirrups feature a rubber foot pad, offering increased traction and stability. Fillis stirrup irons are versatile and suitable for riders of all levels.

2. Peacock stirrups

Peacock stirrups are an excellent choice for beginner riders or those seeking enhanced safety features. They are made of stainless steel and come with elastic bands outside the stirrups. These bands are designed to break or release under pressure, reducing the risk of a foot getting caught in the stirrup in the event of a fall. Peacock stirrups provide added peace of mind, particularly for riders still developing their balance and confidence.

3. Flexible stirrups

Flexible stirrups feature inset pieces in the stirrup branches, usually coated with rubber. These stirrups allow for slight movement and flexibility, which can help alleviate impact on the rider's ligaments and joints. The increased shock absorption can be beneficial for riders who experience discomfort in their lower limbs during extended periods of riding.

4. Composite stirrups

For riders concerned with weight, composite stirrups are an excellent option. These stirrups are made of lightweight polymers, reducing the overall weight of the equipment. Despite their lightweight nature, composite stirrups offer durability and strength. They are suitable for various riding disciplines and are particularly favored by those who prioritize minimizing the weight of their gear.

5. Adjustable eye stirrups

Some stirrup options come with adjustable eye options, allowing the stirrup leather to be angled to optimize the rider's leg position. This adjustment can help relieve pressure in the rider's joints and make it easier to retrieve a lost stirrup. The angle of the stirrup itself can also be slanted to alleviate stress in the rider's joints, especially in western stirrups.

6. Magnetic safety stirrups

Some of the most popular safety stirrups on the market are magnetic safety stirrups. They offer a magnetic connection between the boot and the stirrup which allows for the foot to stay in place easier.

For instance, Ophena S and Ophena S Pro have received over 1,800 five-star stirrup reviews from happy customers. 

Determining the right stirrup size

Once you've identified the type of stirrup that suits your needs, it's essential to determine the correct size for your foot. A properly sized stirrup provides adequate space for your foot while maintaining a secure fit. Here's how to find the right stirrup size:

Measure your foot: measure the widest part of your foot, typically around the ball or the arch. Use a tape measure or ruler to record the measurement.

Add clearance: to ensure a comfortable fit, add about 1/2 inch of clearance on either side of your foot when comparing it to the stirrup bars. This extra space allows for movement and prevents your foot from feeling restricted.

Consider different boot types: if you ride in various boot types, such as tall boots or paddock boots, make sure to account for their differences when determining the appropriate stirrup size.

By following these steps, you can select stirrups that accommodate the unique dimensions of your foot, providing both comfort and safety during your rides.


Choosing the perfect stirrups for horse riding is an essential decision that can significantly impact your comfort, stability, and overall riding experience. By considering factors such as material strength, weight, tread surface characteristics, and additional safety features, you can narrow down the options and find the ideal stirrups for your needs.

Whether you opt for classic fillis stirrup irons, safety-focused peacock stirrups, flexible stirrups for joint support, magnetic safety stirrups, lightweight composite stirrups, or adjustable eye stirrups for optimal leg position, there is a perfect pair out there waiting for you.

Remember to prioritize your horse's safety as well and consult with equine professionals for further guidance. With the right stirrups, you can enjoy your equestrian adventures with confidence, knowing that you have made an informed and thoughtful choice.