Regardless of how good you are, horse riding will always come with its dangers and whilst we always make sure we have up to date hat and body protector standards, stirrups are often an overlooked safety aspect which could potentially save you from a nasty accident. Safety stirrups are now becoming more and more popular, with our favourite brands now making sure we have a safety choice in their range.
So what are safety stirrups?
Safety stirrups are stirrups that help release your foot faster in case of an accident - sometimes referred to as quick release stirrups. These can include peacock stirrups, break away stirrups, bent leg stirrups and even magnetic stirrups. In allowing your foot to break free quicker, they can help reduce the chance of getting your foot caught and potentially getting dragged from the horse – understandably one of a rider’s biggest fears. Safety stirrups should be a must-have accessory for any level of riding. Luckily there are many options, so you can find something suitable for all price ranges or disciplines.
The most traditional and cheapest of the safety stirrups, these are extremely popular with younger riders offering a complete break-free effect with an elastic band and leather keeper. As well as younger/learner riders, these are also becoming popular in the show ring: as these are a stainless steel stirrup, you achieve a traditional look with the added bonus of their safety features.
Although not as commonly known as a safety stirrup, the bent leg has a distinctive bend that has been designed to help prevent the foot from becoming caught in the stirrup in an event of a fall. Whereas some people may still want the full break-away effect of a safety stirrup, the bent leg definitely has its benefits for people that don't necessarily like the side of the stirrup opening, but still want a bit more reassurance.
One of my personal favourites, the Lemieux Arena stirrup is not only a good all-round safety stirrup – it also comes on the market for less than £120. These have a unique HiFlex stress-activated locking and release mechanism with a large opening in case of emergencies. As well as being very good from a safety perspective, these aluminium stirrups are lightweight with an integrated metal foot bed, which is helpful for position and grip. Like most top-end options, these also come in a range of colours to suit individual tastes.
An ever-popular choice especially in the show jumping and eventing world, the Freejump stirrups have been a market leader for quite some time now – and for good reason. This single-branch stirrup combines performance, comfort, safety and simplicity. Its patented flexible branch made of Elastollan helps to free the foot in case of a fall. The non-skid wide elastomer, ABS shell, and high resistance spring steel mono branch guarantee a better riding experience. Available in various colours, the Freejump Soft Up also have a lightweight stirrups option which are made to suit young and junior riders, as well as the coveted limited edition silver.
What stirrups aren't officially safety stirrups?
There are many stirrups on the market that people presume to be safety, but aren’t necessarily as suitable as those listed above. For example, the flexi stirrups offered by many different brands (including Flex on stirrups) are a fantastic choice for positioning of the foot, and although the flexi may be better than traditional fillis stirrups, they still don’t provide a break-free feature like many of those above. Please be aware although your security and safety has gone in to each design to help prevent emergencies, none of the stirrups are 100% guaranteed.
How to choose the best safety stirrup
When considering purchase of a new safety stirrup, you should take into account:
- Which safety aspects you prefer - whether this is a break-away feature, or simple ergonimics such as the bent leg option
- Style and suitability - if you are looking for stirrups for competition purposes, ensure that you are happy with the style and colour options of the stirrup, and whether these are well-suited to the rest of your competition pieces
- Price range - with a wide choice of options and prices beginning at £28, we believe there will be a safety stirrup option for all in our range. If you're looking for a general-purpose stirrup or an alternative that is not necessarily a safety stirrup, shop our full collection here.