Technical stirrups — what’s on the market?

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  • Technical stirrups are a must-have tack accessory and can make a real difference to your time in the saddle. Whether you’re hoping to improve your performance or increase your comfort in the saddle, there’s a pair of technical stirrups out there for you – and while you’re at it, it’s worth checking out the best stirrup leathers, too.

    Long gone are the days where everyone used traditional stirrup irons – now the range of technical stirrups on the market is vast and when searching for a new pair there are myriad styles, colours and materials to choose from. Technological advances over recent years have influenced the shape and safety features of many stirrups while comfort levels also vary. So which are the best technical stirrups for you?

    Here’s a selection of the best technical stirrups on the market (listed alphabetically), some of which have been tested by our independent tester, for you to browse…

    Acavallo technical stirrups

    Acavallo Opera stirrups

    Colours: 1 | Weight: 303g | Legal BD: Yes | Legal BS: Yes | Legal BE: Yes | RRP: £75.95 |

    The way these Acavallo stirrups are suspended allows these lightweight stirrups to hang with optimal balance, angle and flexibility. The laser-cut stainless steel foot plate is supported by twin moulded side sections. Each side of the stirrup works independently, which spreads the load and helps to absorb shock.

    The Opera stirrup is a completely new concept in riding because of its special patented loop construction, which allows the stirrup to adhere to the saddle flap, avoiding friction between the leg and the stirrup, for a more correct, comfortable and secure ride. The large stirrup pad in stainless steel gives riders better grip and relieves tension in the hips, knees, ankles and calves. These technical stirrups are available in two-tone and bright colours.

    In the UK? View at equus.co.uk

    BR technical stirrups

    BR AeroTech stirrups

    Colours: 2 | Weight: 445g each | Legal BD: Yes | Legal BS: Yes | Legal BE: Yes | RRP: £88.95 |

    These synthetic stirrups from BR feature a wide stainless steel tread with coarse pattern. This laser-engraved pattern is designed to provide support and relieves tension in hips, knees, ankles and calves. They have an offset opening, which makes it easy to get your foot in the stirrup. This unique patented system allows the stirrup leather to lie flat and untwisted against the saddle, thereby avoiding friction between the riders leg and the stirrup leather. It also helps to keep your foot in the correct position – as a result, this provides more stability and improves leg position. A steel pin has been inserted in the lower part of the stirrup to help secure a stable stirrup position if your foot accidentally slides off the stirrup – this helps you regain your stirrup quickly. Both the stirrup and tread are wear-resistant and easy to clean. The outer side can be decorated with a flag sticker.

    In the UK? View at amazon.co.uk

    Compositi stirrups

    Compositi Reflex Stirrups

    Colours: 9 | Weight: 420g each | Legal BD: Yes | Legal BS: Yes | Legal BE: Yes | RRP: £31.50 |

    With glass-fibre reinforcement, the swivel soles of the Compositi Reflex stirrups from Shires are positioned on a shock-absorbent layer to relieve tension from your joints. The slender profile has been designed for quick and easy foot release in an emergency. They have a high resistance to shocks and damp, even at low temperatures.

    In the UK? View now at amazon.co.uk or rideawaystore.com
    In the US? View now at amazon.com

    Equiline dressage stirrups

    Equiline Lorenzini dressage stirrups

    Colours: 17 | Weight: 530g each | Legal BD: Yes | Legal BS: Yes | Legal BE: Yes | RRP: £197.90 |

    These Equiline stirrups are designed to limit possible traumas in the event of a fall by allowing easy foot release. The shape provides resistance to torsion (twisting), which aids prompt balance recovery. You can choose between titanium and rubber treads and from a wide range of colours.

    Equipe technical stirrups

    Equipe safety stirrups

    Colours: 4 | Weight: 455g each | Legal BD: Yes | Legal BS: Yes | Legal BE: Yes | RRP: £299 |

    The Equipe safety stirrup was born from the idea of creating a functional accessory, with clean and elegant lines, and yet original in its innovation and design. They are made of high-quality materials with a simple yet effective mechanism design. The mobile silicone gullet allows for a simple release in case of a fall – the upper part of this gullet is engaged by a pin built into the fixed gullet and, during a fall is easily released.

    No tools are required to restore the stirrup. The lower section of the silicone gullet works to prevent the stirrup from loosening under conditions of normal use. The simple release system has no springs, hooks, magnets or other elements that could break or get stuck. The black tread has a special scratch-proof treatment. These Equipe stirrups scored 8/10 as part of our independent testing scheme – read the full review.

    View now at rideawaystore.com

    Equitaly technical stirrups

    Equitaly Plus Force

    Colours: 10 | Weight: 431g each | Legal BD: Yes | Legal BS: Yes | Legal BE: Yes | RRP: £170 |

    The arch is designed to help you find your stirrup if you lose it – with just a slight kick on the side, the stirrup rotates around to the right angle for your foot. The Force system of these Equitaly stirrups is designed to ensure the highest grip, while still providing a mobility for the foot. The size and position of the teeth ensure a steady grip even in challenging conditions, such as wet and mud.

    Flex On Safe On technical stirrups

    Flex-On Safe-On stirrups

    Colours: 8 | Weight: 500g each | Legal BD: Yes | Legal BS: Yes | Legal BE: Yes | RRP: £224.95 |

    The outer branch of the Flex-On Safe-on is designed to open in the event of a fall when at least 40kg weight is exerted on it – it can quickly and easily be re-attached using the tool supplied. The Safe-on has all of Flex-on’s technological innovation and attention to detail – the elastomers provide superb shock absorption to protect joints, while the off-set leather slot ensures the stirrup sits at the optimum angle.

    The choice of tread angle helps the rider to maintain the correct leg position for their particular discipline and needs. These technical stirrups are available in a choice of eight different frame colours, 14 elastomer colours, 6 tread options, and more than 30 different options for the decorative magnetic inserts. These Flex-On stirrups scored 9/10 as part of our independent testing scheme and they were awarded H&H Approved status – read the full review.

    In the UK? View at amazon.co.uk

    freejump technical stirrups

    FreeJump Soft’Up Pro+ stirrups

    Colours: 8 | Weight: 490g each | Legal BD: Yes | Legal BS: Yes | Legal BE: Yes | RRP: £249 |

    The Freejump Soft’Up Pro Plus stirrups are designed with both safety and comfort in mind. The inner branch is fixed, while the outer open branch can bend open to easily release your foot in the event of a fall. They also offer a high degree of shock absorption – the stirrups flex at the lower inside bend of the stirrups, which absorbs shock travelling into riders ankles, knees and hips in addition to the shock travelling across the horses back. The tread is 27% larger than the Soft’Up Classic stirrups – this extra size combined with the raised metal studs across each footplate provides extra grip and stability. The angle and position of the stirrup eye is such that if you should lose your stirrup, it will naturally stay at the correct angle, making it easier to regain.

    In the UK? View now at naylors.com or rideawaystore.com

    Horseware Rambo EasyUp stirrups

    Horseware Rambo EasyUp stirrups

    Colours: 1 | Weight: 560g each | Legal BD: Yes | Legal BS: Yes | Legal BE: Yes | RRP: £119.95 |

    These Horseware stirrups are quite different to the others in this guide in that they’re aimed at riders with tall horses, those who are learning to ride or have issues mounting while out hacking, rather than competitive riders. They are designed with an additional integrated mounting aid that lowers the height your foot needs to reach to mount by six inches – there is a safety locking feature that ensures the lever is not lowered while you’re riding. The EasyUp stirrups are constructed with a lightweight alloy frame and a shock-absorbing nylon plastic footrest. They have an 18° offset that allows them to sit in an easy-to-regain position should you lose your stirrup.

    In the UK? View now at amazon.co.uk

    Jin Air technical stirrups

    Jin Air stirrups

    Colours: 16 | Weight: 430g each | Legal BD: Yes | Legal BS: Yes | Legal BE: Yes | RRP: £218 |

    The aluminium Jin Air stirrups have been created to combine the best of safety, design and comfort. The anatomic footbed provides a high level of comfort, grip and stability, while also helping prevent you losing your stirrups. The smart-release mechanism allows your foot to exit in all directions should you fall. The new technical stirrup structure, which sees part of the external arch made of a flexible material, allows easy foot release while still providing lateral support thanks to a truncated cone design. It automatically returns to the original position without causing structural changes. These Jin stirrups scored 9/10 as part of our independent testing scheme and they were awarded H&H Approved status – read the full review.

    Karlslund AI stirrups

    Karlslund AI stirrups

    Colours: 6 | Weight: 300g each | Legal BD: Yes | Legal BS: Yes | Legal BE: Yes | RRP: £57.46 |

    These lightweight Karlslund stirrups are made of aluminium and are designed with a double-S shape to allow easy foot release in the event of a fall. The slot for the stirrup leather is positioned at 90° so that they always hang in the correct position.

    LeMieux technical stirrups

    LeMieux Vector Control Stirrup

    Colours: 2 | Weight: 372g each | Legal BD: Yes | Legal BS: Yes | Legal BE: Yes | RRP: £159.95 |

    The LeMieux Vector Control stirrups are described as technically advanced and lightweight, while retaining a classic style. They are made from aviation grade aluminium that offers an impressive strength to weight ratio, which makes them lighter than most stirrups on the market while not compromising on stability. The ergonomic footplate of the Control Stirrup is set at 0° with a cross-track grip surface with embedded hardened steel pins to provide maximum foot security. The footplate is supported by a twin balance arch system that distributes the weight evenly across the base of the stirrup frame.  The apex of the frame is recessed and off-set, encouraging a 45º outward orientation, which makes it easier to regain a lost stirrup.

    The integrated spring-loaded safety arm has a two-stage release system, preventing unintentional opening. It locks into the base of the main frame meaning that when under maximum pressure, such as landing over a fence, your weight is spread evenly across the stirrup, preventing the outside dropping and flexing. However, when pressure is put onto the arm of the stirrup – if you fall – the arm releases your foot.

    In the UK? View now at amazon.co.uk or elandlodge.com

    Ophena S magnetic stirrups

    Ophena S magnetic safety stirrups

    Colours: 3 | Weight: 650g each | Legal BD: No | Legal BS: Yes | Legal BE: No | RRP: £295 |

    The Ophena S magnetic safety stirrups have a unique open design and magnetic system to prevent you getting caught in the stirrup with no room for error. They are designed to help improve your control, leg position and confidence. These stirrups include a pair of magnetic insoles that create a magnetic connection between the stirrups and your boots, which provides you with better grip and control no matter the conditions.

    The Smart Attach technology allows you to attach the stirrups without completely removing the leathers by threading the leather through the double arm, which saves you time and preserves your leathers. They can still be run up and attached at the top of the saddle when not in use. These Ophena stirrups scored 8/10 as part of our independent testing scheme – read the full review.

    Silk Steel stirrups

    Silk Steel safety stirrups

    Colours: 1 | Weight: 714g each | Legal BD: Yes | Legal BS: Yes | Legal BE: Yes | RRP: £69.90 |

    These Silk Steel stirrups are a simple, traditional design, but allow a small amount of flex to help you position your foot correctly. They scored 8/10 as part of our independent testing scheme – read the full review.

    Sprenger Flexcite Grip technical stirrups

    Sprenger Flexcite Grip stirrups

    Colours: 1 | Weight: 650g each | Legal BD: Yes | Legal BS: Yes | Legal BE: Yes | RRP: £191.70 |

    The Flexcite Grip stirrups feature a bow shape to help provide perfect balance to set your leg in the correct position whatever your discipline. They are designed to be shock absorbing and gentle to ligaments and joints, while the grip supports the release of the foot in case of an emergency. The extra-wide foot pad has a stainless steel grip inlay for a non-slip, secure hold and has an airtight, water-protected stainless steel joint. These Sprenger stirrups scored 9/10 as part of our independent testing scheme and they were awarded H&H Approved status – read the full review.

    In the UK? View now at amazon.co.uk

    Stubben Maxigrip black technical stirrups

    Stübben Maxi Grip stirrups

    Colours: 2 | Weight: 350g each | Legal BD: Yes | Legal BS: Yes | Legal BE: Yes | RRP: £189.50 |

    The design of these technical stirrups from Stübben focuses on functionality and stability. The stirrup is milled from a 12.9mm high-quality aluminum alloy. These stirrups are lightweight but strong and offer good hold due to sharp-edged pyramid profile on the sloping footplate.

    Tech Stirrups Venice Dressage technical stirrups

    Tech Stirrups Venice Dressage Plus

    Colours: 2 | Weight: 570g each | Legal BD: Yes | Legal BS: Yes | Legal BE: Yes | RRP: £345 |

    These Tech Stirrups are manufactured with high-quality metal and have a very wide opening at the safety mechanism, which releases your foot in case of fall and returns to the closed position automatically. These stirrups are equipped with four shock-absorbing inserts that allow the stirrup to follow the natural movement of the foot. The grip was specifically designed for dressage riders – it has a 3° inclination that helps posture. The pad and the shock-absorbing inserts can be replaced.

    What are safety stirrups?

    Safety stirrups are designed to help release your foot faster and more easily in case of an accident. They are sometimes referred to as quick-release stirrups. Traditionally you would see peacock stirrups, but these are only really safe for children or very small adults. You will also find break-away stirrups, which usually have an arm that detaches in some way in the event of a fall, bent-leg stirrups, which are shaped to prevent your foot becoming caught, and magnetic stirrups.

    What stirrups are dressage legal?

    British Dressage permits stirrups of any colour that are used in a conventional way. You can’t have Velcro straps that attach the girth to the stirrup iron without special dispensation. Using mechanical or magnetic means to attach your boots to the stirrups is also not permitted without dispensation. All the stirrups in this guide are BD legal with the exception of the Ophena S magnetic stirrups.

    What size stirrups do I need?

    Not all stirrups come in a range of sizes, but where they do you should choose a pair that are one inch wider than the width of your boot at the ball of your foot. This gives you half an inch of space each side once your foot is in place.

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