Safety Stirrups go High Tech – Part 1

Copes Safety Stirrup

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.

Peacock stirrup
The traditional “Peacock” safety stirrup has an open side that is closed using a rubber band. These are still the most economical option, running about $30.

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.

Freejump stirrup
FreeJump stirrups feature a flexible outer bar that will bend/break if a rider’s foot hits the edge.

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

Equiline Stirrups are probably the most high tech looking stirrups out there.

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.

Tech Safety Stirrup
The Venice Tech Safety stirrup uses a magnetic closure on the outside bar which releases with pressure.
Tech Stirrups Venice stirrup is a different design. The outside branch has a spring hinge and with enough pressure will release from the body of the stirrup. Once the pressure is removed, the outside branch swings back into place and holds tight by use of a magnet.These stirrups also have a bit of weight to them and they come in a variety of colors. Cost: These stirrups will set you back around $400 for adult sized stirrups, less for kids irons.
I’ll be back tomorrow with a few more options but if you have any safety stirrups that you recommend, please chime in!

2 thoughts on “Safety Stirrups go High Tech – Part 1

  1. Just to be clear you don’t use the Peacock safety variety because you don’t like the look or is there a functional reason? I got my foot stuck in a regular Peacock on a school horse about 10 years ago. I sure wished I had my $35 stirrups that day. I always use safety stirrups just because I’ve seen what can happen. The ONE time in 10 years I use regular ones and . . .

    I’ve thought about buying the fancy ones but could never come up with a reason to spend so much without a practical advantage. I know the angled ones with the rubber on the side by the foot have a bad rep of holding the foot so I didn’t get the angled stirrups. They aren’t safety so I only toyed with the idea before being warned off.

  2. With the Peacock stirrups it’s a little of each. Initially, I didn’t use them because of an irrational prejudice that as a more competent rider I didn’t “need” them. Stupid really, it’s like saying you don’t need a helmet. Now that I’ve experienced first hand the damage that can be done when your foot doesn’t release properly, I’ve been researching the best safety stirrups. I’ve read about a lot of instances where the rubber band stretched but didn’t release, and also people who’ve been stabbed by the upper branch. I agree about the outrageous cost of these new stirrups. It took a month of sitting in a wheelchair thinking about it to come to the conclusion that if someone told me that for $500 I wouldn’t fracture my knee, I’d hand it over in a heartbeat. I’ve spent far more out of pocket on my medical expenses and the bills keep coming!

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