When and where was the stirrup invented?

Stirrups are one of the most essential parts of your tack as a rider. They provide you with support and help you to balance better. In fact, if you have ever ridden without stirrups during your lesson or for fun, you already know what a difference having (or not having) stirrups can make. But can you imagine a time when there were no stirrups? When the warriors of the past had to rely solely on their balance to stay on the horse? 

Ophena safety stirrups

Interestingly enough, the stirrup was invented a long time ago, though it (of course) has come a long way since its first steps. 

When was the stirrup invented?

It is unclear when and where the very first stirrups were used. However, there is some evidence about toe loops that were used in India in 500 BC. The purpose of the toe loop was to provide support to the rider. The loops attached to the bottom of the saddle. In a way, these toe loops worked as a stirrup of a kind, as they provided the rider more help with their balance.

In addition, there is some other evidence of different kinds of stirrups, such as bent metal bars, being used in different parts of India around the same time period. 

However, it was not until a saddle tree was invented that the stirrups started taking steps towards our modern-day stirrups. The reason for this is that without the saddle tree, the rider's weight on the stirrups would put too much pressure on the horse's back

China and Japan

In has also been said that stirrups were used in China during the Han dynasty. Some researchers have even found ancient stirrups buried in tombs. In Japan, stirrups were used as early as the 5th century. The stirrups were flat bottomed rings of metal-covered wood that remind us of modern stirrups. 

It has been said that stirrups made their way to Europe as a result of wars. 

Stirrups in Europe

Hungary and Greece were, according to some sources, the first European countries to experience the ease of stirrups. From there, the popularity of stirrups grew and they spread all over Europe. Vikings of Norway and Denmark, for instance, were already using stirrups around the 8th century.

In short, it is hard to say when and where the stirrup was invented. However, it appears that India and China were among the first countries to use stirrups about 500-200 BC.

Stirrups today

Nowadays, we have many different kinds of stirrups to choose from. For instance, many companies manufacture safety stirrups that have been designed with the rider's safety in mind. At Ophena, we have designed magnetic safety stirrups, that have surely come a long way from the very first toe loops of India. 

When you browse stirrups online, for instance, you will see many different kinds of designs and features. However, the idea of the stirrup remains and has remained, the same over thousands of years.

In conclusion, the invention of stirrups was revolutionary on many levels, and it made a huge difference in warfare, for instance. 

If you have questions about our safety stirrups, take a look at our site and contact us.