Western stirrups vs. English stirrups - what's the difference?

One of the best things about horseback riding is that there is always something new to learn. There are many disciplines from dressage to endurance riding and from Western to showjumping. Vaulting is a very interesting sport that requires balance and flexibility and cross country is for the ones who crave adrenaline. Regardless of the discipline, there are certain things that stay the same across the board. For instance, stirrups: every saddle has them. So, what is the difference between Western and English stirrups?

English stirrups - what are they?

The English style of riding includes (for instance) dressage, showjumping, and eventing. Each of these disciplines has its own tack, style of riding, and goal. For example, dressage riders have a dressage saddle, possibly a double bridle, and stirrups that are suitable for dressage shows.

On the other hand, showjumpers use a different kind of saddle that is lighter and supports jumping. Also, showjumpers oftentimes have safety stirrups that ensure maximum safety in case of a fall. There is a big difference between each discipline, but what differentiates English and Western riding, in this instance, is the tack.

English stirrups attach to the saddle differently than Western ones, and also, they are shaped differently. Below, you can see an English saddle with stirrups pulled up.

English stirrups

In the image below, you can see how stirrups attach to an English saddle. Usually, they attach on top of the flap and you can pull them up.

Safety stirrups

English ones are usually made of iron, plastic, or titanium. They are light-weight and they often come with different safety mechanisms. For Ophena, the safety mechanism is mainly related to our open side and magnetic connection between your boot and our stirrup.

What are Western stirrups?

Western saddles are different from English saddles, so the stirrups also attach differently. Western riders use a bigger saddle that allows the riders to get closer to the horse. In the photo below, you can see a Western saddle, and how the stirrup is attached.

Western saddle

As you can see, they are differently shaped and attached to the saddle. One big difference you can spot immediately is that there are no stirrup leathers. Not in the same way as in the English ones, anyway.

Also, these do not have a separate ribber pad or a safety mechanism. Sometimes, you can spot Western stirrups with a safety mechanism as well, but it is rarer.

Where can I buy them?

You can buy them online or at your local tack store easily. Just keep in mind, that because of the difference in design, you cannot put Western stirrups on an English saddle and vice versa. Or, perhaps you can, but it is not recommended because each product has its own purpose and goal, and they are designed for specific disciplines.

If you have questions about our product or would like to purchase them, you can contact us or read our reviews and our FAQ-section. Also, just FYI: we have a 60-day money-back guarantee.

Frequently asked questions

Can you put Western stirrups to an English saddle?

You probably can, but you should not do that. Western stirrups are meant for Western saddles for a reason, and vice versa.

Are Western stirrups safer than English ones?

No, they are equally safe, depending on the design, brand, and safety features, of course. They are simply meant for different riding styles.

I ride Western and English - should I have different tack for each style?

Yes, preferably. After all, Westen tack has been designed to accommodate the style, the same way as English has been made to accommodate the English style.