Let's face it: accidents happen, especially in the equestrian world. No matter how good of a rider you are, there is always a risk of falling off. All riders should always use the appropriate safety gear, such as a helmet, gloves, boots and safety stirrups.
Though having safety stirrups may not seem like such a big deal, they can be the small line between no injury and serious injury. Namely, because safety stirrups help your foot to release from your stirrups in case of a fall, so you will not be stuck in the stirrup and dragged behind your horse.
In this article, we are comparing the pros and cons of the best safety stirrups for adults.
We will look at the following models:
- Ophena S magnetic safety stirrups
- FreeJump SOFT’UP PRO Irons
- Foot Free Safety Stirrup Irons
- Royal King Metal Endurance Stirrups
- MDC Super Sport Stirrups
- Tuff Rider Stainless Steel Peacock Stirrups
- EquiRoyal Safety Stirrups
- OnTyte magnetic safety stirrups
- Sprenger - Safety Stirrups Bow Balance
What are safety stirrups and who should use them?
Safety stirrups are stirrups that help your foot to release quicker from your stirrups in case of an accident. These can be break-away stirrups, magnetic safety stirrups, peacock stirrups or even flexible joint stirrups. Over the years, companies have developed many kinds of safety stirrups that are available for adults as well as children.
Should you fall off your horse, safety stirrups ensure that your foot will not get stuck in your stirrup, so it is a must-have safety gear for everyone, regardless of their level or discipline. However, the type of safety stirrups you should get depend completely on your budget, preference, and discipline.
There are multiple different kinds of models and brands out there, and each one of them have their own pros and cons.
Safety stirrups are meant to keep riders safe in case of a fall - the worst thing that could happen is that you get dragged behind your horse, when your foot is stuck in the stirrups. In fact, these types of accidents are too typical, and many riders say that it is what they are most afraid of.
In the video below, you can see what happens if you get stuck in your stirrups. The video may contain material that is disturbing for sensitive viewers.
The video clearly shows how the rider falls off after a fence and the horse stops at first. However, because the rider is stuck in the stirrup, the horse panics and starts galloping across the field. The rider is still stuck in the stirrup and gets dragged behind the horse for a while, before her foot gets released.
The rider was in rehabilitation for injuries sustained during the fall.
Ophena S magnetic safety stirrups
Ophena manufactures magnetic safety stirrups with a unique design and innovative features. It has received many immaculate reviews from happy customers and professional riders.
- Magnetic safety stirrup that ensures your foot will always stay on the correct spot
- Open side ensures that foot is released quickly in case of an accident
- Foot stopper stops foot from sliding out
- Beautiful design that even professionals appreciate and love
- Smart Attach (TM) system makes it easy to attach and detach the stirrups
- Not in everyone's budget (but you get what you pay for)
- Not approved for FEI dressage shows
FreeJump SOFT’UP PRO Irons
This is a very popular stirrup that was created in cooperation with Rodrigo Pessoa. It was brought to market already in 2012.
- Flexible outside branches
- Supports better leg position
- Offers a great grip for your foot
- You should have protectors to prevent scratches on your saddle after they are pulled up
- There was an incident, where Freejump stirrups broke in the middle of a 5* showjumping course
- They "can be weakened by a violent shock or a particularly intensive use"
Foot Free Safety Stirrup Irons
Classic look with extra safety that appeals especially for dressage riders.
- Durable and stainless steel
- Curved outer edge provides more safety
- Good foot position
- Not much grip
- Not the best option for showjumpers
- Safer than a "standard" stirrup, but no release mechanism to reliably get loose.
Royal King Metal Endurance Stirrups
These stirrups have a cage over your toe. They may look intense, but they ensure that your foot will not slip through the stirrups.
- Your foot will not slide through them
- Shock absorbing features that are especially useful for endurance riders
- Must be placed over the saddle
- Many screws and bolts that require regular checks
- Not very beautiful
- Not the best option for dressage
MDC Super Sport Stirrups
Flexible joint stirrups that have a classy look with added safety.
- Aluminum tread that provides excellent traction
- Classy look that suits every discipline
- The stirrups can be set in 3 different positions
- Not the most effective safety stirrup
- Pretty pricy option
Tuff Rider Stainless Steel Peacock Stirrups
One of the most traditional models that have been on the market for a long time.
- The rubber band on the side will release in case of an accident
- Reasonable price
- Stainless steel
- Intended for lightweight riders under 50 kilograms
- Rubber bands will have to be changed regularly
- Not the most beautiful design
EquiRoyal Safety Stirrups
Classy and stylish look that suits especially dressage riders. A curved model with some extra safety.
- The curved side helps your foot to release
- No moving parts
- A stylish look that suits especially dressage riders
- Only available in 4,5 inch
- Not the best option for beginners
- Not a real safety stirrup
OnTyte magnetic safety stirrups
One of the few magnetic safety stirrups in the market that have gotten a lot of attention among riders.
- Magnetic stirrup that helps your foot to stay in the correct spot
- Lightweight stirrup
- Great for showjumpers and eventers
- Expensive stirrup option
- Steelplates must be permanently attached to the shoe by a shoe maker
- Plastic stirrup makes it look a bit cheap
Sprenger - Safety Stirrups Bow Balance
Sprenger is a well-known stirrup and bit manufacturer from Germany that produces quality products with world-wide presence.
- A good rubber grip that keeps your foot in place
- Made from Stainless steel
- Users say that jumping is comfortable and feet won't get tired
- Very ergonomic to help with knee-pain
- Not a real safety stirrup.
- Flex joints are fairly hard, which doesn't guarantee that your foot will release in case of an accident.
How to use safety stirrups?
The best part about these products is that you don't have to do anything to activate them. In fact, you don't even have to give them another thought after you have attached them to your stirrup leathers.
All you have to do is pick the model that are the best choice for you and purchase them. Most of them offer a possibility to try them out and return them if they are not for you (like Ophena - we have a 60-day money-back guarantee). If you like them, just leave them on your leathers and enjoy the safety they provide.
How to pick the correct safety stirrups?
Not all the models are alike - not even when it comes to the level of safety they provide. When choosing one for yourself, the first thing you should consider is the safety aspect. For instance, showjumpers and eventers need a model that is very effective and safe - let's be honest, accidents happen more often in showjumping and eventing than in dressage, for instance.
Also, take into account the style and material that you prefer. Some riders prefer stainless steel over plastic, whereas others like the lightness that plastic ones provide.
In addition, consider the price you are prepared to pay. At the end of the day, you get what you pay for, and you should invest money for your safety. However, it is understandable that not everyone has hundreds of euros to spend on stirrups.
Frequently asked questions
Are magnetic safety stirrups, such as Ophena S, accepted at horse shows?
Magnetic safety stirrups are approved by the FEI for showjumping and for instance, the German Equestrian Federation has approved magnetic safety stirrups for all disciplines. You should check with your national federation about this regarding shows in your own country. When it comes to our Ophena S and Ophena T magnetic safety stirrups, you can see the list of federations that have approved our stirrups.
What are FreeJump stirrups?
FreeJump safety stirrups are a new brand in the market and they are created to make riding safer for everyone. They have been designed in cooperation with some of the best riders in the world.
FreeJump stirrups have gained a lot of popularity, but in a recent five star Grand Prix showjumping show, Henrick Von Eckermann fell off of his horse, Mary Lou, when his FreeJump stirrup broke. FreeJump stirrup breaking is an unfortunate event, and the company says they are investigating why this happened.
What size stirrups do I need?
Your safety stirrups should measure the size or your foot plus one inch, or 2,5 centimeters. You can measure this with a measuring tape, or by placing your foot in the stirrup and then placing your index finger next to it.
Does my child need safety stirrups?
Absolutely! However, keep in mind that children should have smaller stirrups than adults. If the stirrup is too big, your child's foot can slide through it, creating dangerous situations.
These models are one of the most important safety gear you can get when you're riding. They are important for every rider, no matter their level or discipline. Take a while to compare and review different types of safety stirrups and pick the ones that suit you the best.