I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about my accident. Of course, I wished I’d stopped riding five minutes earlier. Or had only ridden Freedom. But the other thing that I’ve puzzled over is how I fractured my right knee. The injuries on the left side are easy to understand. Zelda and I both fell to the left. But my right leg? I think it got hung up on the stirrup. The right stirrup and leather was still on the left side of the saddle when Zelda stood up.
Up until now, I’ve dismissed the idea of using safety stirrups. I’ve never been a big fan of the traditional Peacock stirrup — partially because they have been indelibly linked in my mind with “beginning” riders, and partially because I know a few people who have been speared in the thigh by the hook at the top. If I was going to spend $200+ on a pair of stirrups, I wanted ones that would protect my knees.
The last month of analysis has changed my mind. I’ve decided that I won’t ride in regular stirrups again. Farewell Jin Stirrups, Royal Riders and even my Bow Balance (which are supposed to be safer because of the flexibility of the sides).
Since I have plenty of time on my hands, I’ve been doing my research into what’s out there. Here are the first round of contenders. Stay tuned for round two tomorrow.
One of the most popular safety stirrups available is the FreeJump. These high-tech stirrups have a flexible outer branch that can bend completely and an inner branch of tempered spring steel for stability. There have been a few reports of these stirrups breaking on course, but from what I can tell, this is an old issue and not something to worry about. These stirrups come in a full rainbow of colors — perfect if you’re an eventer, but for a foxhunter, a more traditional black would probably be the best bet. Cost: Depending on the model, these will set you back between $225 – $370. They are meant to be used with FreeJump leathers which will set you back another $235, but I’ve read that you can use them with standard leathers, too.
The Equiline stirrups have a lot in common with the FreeJump design but with
some extras. The outer arm not only moves 90 degrees outward but also in a 360 degree circle, making it almost impossible for a rider’s foot to get trapped. The inclined arm can be reset to its original position after releasing and comes with a 24 month guarantee. For those of us who like a bit of cushioning in our stirrups. the Equiline has shock-absorbing plates on the stirrup bed and a rolling grip system on the footbed. This is a heavier stirrup than many of the composites, which makes it easier to pick up a stirrup if you lose one (this was always my complaint with the Royal Riders. They were so light that if/when I lost one, it was almost impossible to pick it up. Cost: These stirrups will set you back $595, so it’s just as well they come with a 24-month guarantee.