Technical stirrups and how to choose the correct ones

Some older riders probably still remember the time when stirrups were just stirrups. No safety mechanisms or any fancy features, just support for your foot. Nowadays, there are dozens of different kinds of technical stirrups with safety mechanisms and other features that can make the riding experience more pleasant and comfortable - and best of all, safer. 

How do technical stirrups work?

Choosing the correct technical stirrups can be challenging since there are so many interesting and highly-rated stirrups out there. In this article, we will look at what kind of features technical stirrups have and how you can choose the correct ones for yourself. 

What are technical stirrups?

First things first, what are technical stirrups? You may have heard about safety stirrups, magnetic safety stirrups, peacock stirrups, and others. But how do technical stirrups fit in?

Frankly, technical stirrups are stirrups with a safety mechanism and possibly other features. Each brand and manufacturer design their own stirrups with their own unique features with a purpose to e.g. increase grip or help the rider to stay safe during their ride.

Technical stirrups and their features

Technical stirrups can have different features depending on the manufacturer and the brand. Whereas one brand has only a safety mechanism, another may pay attention to other things as well, such as design or comfort. 

Technical stirrups can have, for instance, some of the following features:

  • Safety mechanism that opens in case of emergency
  • Magnetic connection
  • Open design
  • Toe cover
  • Integrated dampening

Useful advice for choosing the best technical stirrups

Choosing technical stirrups can become a complex project as there are so many different options on the market. However, by approaching the decision logically and systematically, you will be able to narrow down your choices and pick the ones that fit your goals. 

Below, we will look at some useful tips on how you can choose the best technical stirrups that suit your needs. 

What kind of a safety mechanism are you looking for?

When buying your own technical stirrups, this is one of the most important questions to ask yourself. Here, you will have to consider two things: your main discipline and safety. 

The most usual safety mechanism is one that opens when pressure is applied. Typically, the outer side of the stirrups have a mechanism that is locked during the ride, but opens when pressure is applied to it. While this kind of a mechanism is great, it does present the possibility of getting stuck.

There are also safety stirrups that offer an open design, leaving the outer side completely open. For instance, our Ophena S and Ophena S Pro stirrups feature an open side to allow the rider's foot to release easier in case of an accident. Our magnetic stirrups also have a magnetic connection between the rider's boot and the stirrup, keeping the foot securely in the correct spot and preventing it from slipping.

You should also consider your main discipline especially if you are planning on showing. This is because the rules and regulations carefully outline what kind of stirrups are allowed for each discipline. 

For instance, magnetic stirrups are not allowed in dressage shows, whereas they are allowed and approved for showjumping. If you are unsure, check the FEI regulations or the regulations of your national equestrian federation.

Are you looking for any other features?

Some stirrups may have other features in addition to safety features. For instance, our Ophena A safety stirrups have integrated dampening that allows for better shock absorption. On the other hand, Ophena S Pro has improved grip in the treading, making it an excellent choice for eventers, for instance. 

Improved grip, a design that allows for shock absorption, or other innovative features can help with correct leg positioning, comfort, and flexibility.

Which is better: lightweight or heavier weight?

Technical stirrups can be made with lighter materials, such as plastic or aluminum, or they can be made of heavier stainless steel. When choosing between a lightweight and heavier weight stirrups, it really comes down to preference.

However, we should note that heavier stirrups made with stainless steel are easier to get back on your foot should you lose the stirrup during your ride. 

What material should I choose?

Stirrups can be made of stainless steel, aluminium or plastic. Plastic stirrups come in many attractive colours, but generally look a bit cheaper and often have an inner metal core, which makes them difficult to recycle. Stainless steel is certainly the noblest option with the highest durability, but aluminium stirrups are a great alternative and can be recycled well.

The design matters

Everyone wants to look their best, especially at horse shows. Even the design of the stirrups matter and you should choose the ones that please your eye. 

Choose the right size

The size of the stirrups matter. If the stirrups are too big, the risk of your foot slipping through the stirrups increase. On the other hand, if the stirrups are too small, the risk of getting caught in your stirrups increase. 

As a rule of thumb, there should be one inch of space on either side of your boot when place in the stirrups.

Are Ophena stirrups technical stirrups?

Ophena's magnetic safety stirrups and regular safety stirrups are all considered technical stirrups. In fact, they include some unique features you have not seen anywhere else:

  • Ophena S is our original magnetic safety stirrup model. It features an open design, magnetic connection, excellent grip, the Smart Attach™ system, and beautiful design.
  • Ophena S Pro includes all the same features as Ophena S, but it also has improved treading for better grip.
  • Ophena A is a regular safety stirrup without a magnetic connection, making it a good choice for all disciplines. Ophena A includes patent-pending technology, The Twister, that helps to release the rider's foot in case of an accident. 

Buy your own technical stirrups at

You can buy your own Ophena stirrups at Our stirrups are exclusively sold on our website and they have received raving reviews among amateurs and professionals. 

Take a look at our magnetic safety stirrups or Ophena A and choose which model is the best for you. Add it to cart and complete your order to receive yours! You will have a 60-day money-back guarantee as well: this is how much we trust that you'll love our stirrups.