After many decades of the basic Fillis stirrup iron, there have been a number of efforts to improve upon the design. First there were safety stirrups, then jointed stirrups. Then there were stirrup/boot systems that “lock” together.
Now this company has come out with a new type of stirrup design that supports the whole foot and is supposed to increase rider stability and reduce fatigue.
The designers of the stirrup claim that the traditional design puts riders in an inherently weak position in that the traditional heels down position requires increased ankle flexion and an elongated calf with too much pressure on the ball of the foot. They propose that the K’vall stirrup balances physical efforts between the front and the back of the leg and that the full foot support prevents fatigue.
Certainly, I’ve had times when I’ve had my feet “go to sleep” on long rides — especially those where I’ve been jumping a lot or riding in two point.
In this regard the K’vall stirrup appears to be a cousin of the endurance stirrup. E-Z ride stirrups have a foot bed that’s four inches front to back, and padded to boot. They definitely help with weight dissipation and are quite comfortable on long rides.
Of course, in addition to the wide foot bed and the cage, the K’vall stirrups use a second strap to stabilize the leg by creating a triangle.
Is the stirrup too secure? On forum discussions I’ve read concerns about safety. The manufacturer says that it has a very efficient foot release.
- The back axis and the rear belts unclip automatically in case of an emergency fall.
- The cage is wide in order to give the foot the most possible freedom.
- The side branches are indented for an easy foot release.
- The stirrup strap can separate from the stirrup bar.
So, what do riders who have tried this stirrup think?
I found a few comments from two riders who’ve tried the K’vall stirrup, both on the Horse and Hound Forum.
. . . riding was an interesting experience, they use slightly difference muscles as your foot now has a level footbed. I tried in the heels down position, but soon moved to horizontal due to my muscles screaming!
So thus far I have hacked, showjumped, played on our cross county and done a 12mile fun ride in them. I can truly say I’m hooked!
I love these stirrups, they are far more stable than anything I have ever ridden in, and even when the horse leaps sideways due to horse eating pigs behind the hedge, you can stay in the plate much easier.
Now I’m a terrible toes down heels up type person, especially jumping, and these babies have cured that and your lower leg doesn’t swing back. Interestingly as you are more stable, it eliminates that need to pivot on your knees too.
For cross country they are marvellous! I did our trakenner and ski jumps and was completely stable and everything becomes easy. Encouraging enough to think about doing more XC from a committed sj’ing person!
I’ve been using them since Feb 2010 and would not be without them now.
I used to get lower back pain when doing a lot of canter work (caused by slouching at work rather than riding), however with the kvall I get no pain at all and can do a 12 mile fun ride even when not riding fit and suffer no consequences the next day (normally would be very stiff and on the ibuprofen).
They have also been great hunting, and people may comment on the unusual looks, but most people have been interested rather than rude (well to my face!!!)
Here are some people riding with the K’vall stirrups.
I admit that they are intriguing but with a $250 price tag, I think I’ll wait for a few more reviews or for the price to come down.