September 02, 2021
Stirrups - selection and requirements for quality and safety
A stirrup should provide the rider's foot with good support, stability, comfort and safety in the saddle. There are numerous stirrup models on the market with different objectives, such as appearance, flexibility and riding comfort or safety. The pioneer in the field of stirrups with a safety effect was the System 4 articulated stirrup from Sprenger. Since then, professionals such as Ingrid Klimke or Marcus Ehning have relied on the advantages of System-4, Bow Balance and Flexcite stirrups.
With the abundance of available models, it is often difficult to make the right choice. The subject of safety in particular is of course of particular importance to many riders, but how can the safety of a stirrup be correctly assessed? Is a stirrup safe just because the name says so? This question can be answered with a clear no, because no stirrup can offer a hundred percent safety.
There are some less obvious factors that influence the safety of a stirrup. For example, the strength and stability of the material that is used. Stirrups must be able to withstand up to three or four times the body weight, depending on the discipline. And this applies for a time period of several years and a daily use basis. In frequently adverse weather conditions, they regularly come into contact with sand, moisture, sweat and UV radiation and are also exposed to the changing temperatures of the seasons.
Very low-priced models are often made of materials that are not resistant to weathering and corrosion. They can rust and tend to structural changes or material fatigue when exposed to temperature fluctuations. This applies to both metal and plastic stirrups. Particularly with plastic stirrups, UV resistance is essential, as sunlight can cause the material to fatigue, become brittle and break.
Sprenger's jointed stirrups are therefore made of high-quality stainless steel, in combination with durable and robust rubber and plastic, all of which meet these requirements. The breaking strength of the stirrups is more than 1,500 kg.
The unique advantage of the jointed stirrups is that the built-in flexible joint allows the movement of the ankle joint and relieves strain on the ankle, knee and hip joints as well as tendons and ligaments. In addition, the flexibility of the joint generally makes it easier to release the foot in the event of a fall.
The size and nature of the treading surface can also have a positive influence on the safety of stirrups. The Bow Balance and Flexcite stirrup therefore have an especially wide tread and are equipped with different degrees of rubber hardness in order to give the foot a comfortable and non-slip stand. Should the rider still lose the stirrup, the stirrups are balanced in such a way that they do not start to "swing" and can therefore be easily picked up again.
The tread width should be at least half a centimetre to each side at the height of the ball. The foot must be easy to move in the stirrup. However, the stirrup should also not be too large for the foot, because then there is a risk that it might slip completely through and, in the worst case, the rider could get stuck. Renowned manufacturers therefore offer their stirrup models in different sizes (e.g. for children, ladies and gentlemen).
To prevent the rider from slipping through the stirrup, riding boots or shoes should definitely have a small heel. If you prefer to use riding shoes rather than boots or ankle boots, you should choose a sole that is not too wide and thick and avoid laces, buckles and eyelets, which possibly can get caught in open or opening stirrups.
Important when choosing a stirrup is the quality of the product. Inexpensive copies of patented pioneering products tempt you to confuse similar looks with them, but cannot keep up in terms of function and strength and often even represent a safety risk. The market is flooded with copies of jointed stirrups in particular, where the joints are made of inferior materials that can rust or break. In addition, even a flexible stirrup should have sufficient strength. It should cushion the movement of the foot, but under no circumstances should it be "wobbly" or "spongy".
Reference: Sprenger Equestrian
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