Wide Footbed Stirrups – Do They Make a Difference?

Jin Stirrups
For those of us with bad knees and wonky ankles, finding the right stirrup can make a real difference.

Back in the “old days”, stirrups came in one flavor. Fillis. Then came the evolution of the stirrup into flexy, bendy composite things that cost orders of magnitude more than those plain metal ones.

For a long time I scoffed at those expensive stirrups. Then my knees started to hurt. Then I developed tendonitis in my left ankle. I started looking more carefully at those fancy brands.

I’ve had a range of the flexy bendy ones. I tried the Royal Rider composite stirrups (I actually dislike them because they are so light that if you lose one while riding it’s hard to pick it up again). I remembered that when I’d done a lot of trail riding one summer, I’d bought western endurance stirrups with wide footbeds. They’d been a lot more comfortable, even on really long rides.

Then Tack of the Day had Jin stirrups on sale. If you haven’t been sucked into the wonderfulness of daily deals arriving in your inbox every week day at noon, sign up now. You’ll buy a lot of things you never knew you wanted needed and snap up some bargains in the process.

So, do I love the Jin stirrups? Yes and no. I like the wide footbed and the tread pattern. The wider footbed is more secure, it helps my knees and my toes never go numb (the pain we go through to ride!). Overall, I think they provide more support and I am less likely to lose one, especially when riding in wet conditions.

What I didn’t like about them is that I can’t use them on my Webber-style leathers. The buckle doesn’t fit through the eye hole. That was almost a disaster because I had to dig through my tack trunk to find regular leathers and I still don’t like the bulk under my leg. Well, that and the price. I still find it hard to swallow that stirrups cost more than $225. But if you can find them at a discount, they are worth a try.



I’m lame

I have posterior tibial tendonitis. What caused it? I hurt it initially over the summer when I spent two days wearing flip flops at a regatta. Two many hours on my feet but not enough support. I thought it was all better, but over the past few weeks it’s flared up again.

For once it’s not one of my horses that is lame. It’s me.

I have posterior tibial tendonitis. Which means I have swelling under my ankle bone and pain in my arch and ankle. It hurts when I walk. But even worse, it hurts when I ride.

Acavallo stirrups
I think I’m going to try stirrups like these which would reduce the pressure of pronation.

Part of the problem is that the stirrup causes my foot to pronate. And that during hunting season I was riding short, with a lot of weight in my stirrups. Long rides with a lot of two point and jumping.

Last week I knew I was in trouble. I was out riding Zelda and experienced shooting pain through my ankle and foot.

So, what’s the cure? If it was my horse that was lame it would be simple: Rest, ice and support. I’d give my horse two weeks off.

But it’s hard to rest your feet when you have chores to do, places to go and horses to ride. Ice helps with the inflammation and I’ve been trying orthotic insoles to give more support to my arch. My doctor told me to wear them in all my shoes, including my riding boots. Now, there’s a product that’s hit or miss. I’ve tried five different kinds so far and only one doesn’t make my foot feel worse. The craziest experience with them was at a store where they tried to sell me a “system” of insoles — three different kinds that cost, get this, $300 each! You’d think that they were products for horses.

Right now I’ve settled on a plan. I’m wearing Birkenstocks or Haflinger clogs 24/7. The best inserts I’ve found are also Birks . . . and are “only” about $50.  And I think I’m going to spend the month of December riding without stirrups.


Stirrup Bar Safety Latches Up or Down?

stirrup safety latch up.
The stirrup bar safety latch is designed to keep your stirrup leathers on the bar when it is flipped up. In theory, the catch will flip down if the rider’s foot is caught in their stirrup during a fall and dragged

The releasable latch on the stirrup bar is called a ‘safety latch’. It is designed to flip up, which keeps your leathers on the bar, or down, which allows them to be removed. However, many people use the latch in the wrong position to be safe.

For riding, the safety latch should be down. Always. I know, somewhere you read that they should be in the closed position to keep your leathers in place, that they will release if you fall and your foot is caught in the stirrup.

I’d rather not take the chance that the catch doesn’t release. On my saddle, the mechanism is working well. It easily moves between the closed and open positions. However, I’d rather risk losing a stirrup

I prefer not to take the chance that the mechanism won't release. I ride with my stirrup bar safety latch down, or open, all the time.
I prefer not to take the chance that the mechanism won’t release. I ride with my stirrup bar safety latch down, or open, all the time.

off my saddle than being dragged.

Over time the mechanism can freeze up if its not regularly cleaned and oiled. I don’t know about you, but I can’t remember the last time I oiled the latch on any of my saddles. In fact, my Wintec saddle doesn’t even have a latch — the bars are curved enough to keep the leathers on, but allow the leathers to come off pretty easily.

I know some people who ride with the latch closed but use safety stirrups. Me? I’d keep the latch down. Being dragged is not something I want to leave to the performance of a latch.
What about you? Do you ride with the latch closed (up) or open (down)?