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How to Select, Size and Adjust Stirrups
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How to Select, Size and Adjust Stirrups

A stirrup is a device attached to a horse saddle designed to support the rider’s foot. The wrong size or type of stirrup could result in safety issues for the rider. Appropriately adjusted stirrups allow the rider to grip with their knees to maintain balance. Correctly positioned stirrups permit proper posture and decrease the likelihood of injury.

How to Select a Stirrup

Calf roping necessitates a generous fitting stirrup, while barrel racing requires a tighter fit and a strong stirrup. Professional jockeys select very short stirrups, while dressage riders prefer elongated stirrups for better control. An endurance rider should choose a 2-3” bell designed stirrup for increased comfort. Steel stirrups covered in rawhide will meet the rigorous demands of competition that barrel racing requires. Jockeys and younger riders may prefer the light weight of aluminum stirrups. Some stirrups are covered in leather and may be decoratively stamped.

How to Size a Stirrup

Stirrups are fitted to the individual rider. Measure the rider’s boot across the bottom at the widest part of the ball of the foot. Add ¾” to the rider’s foot measurement. If the measurement falls between stirrup sizes, it is usually best to increase a size in stirrups. Hinged stirrups often run ½” smaller in size due to the manufacturer not accounting for the width of the rubber sleeve.

How to Adjust a Stirrup

Determine the correct length needed for the rider. Unbuckle and remove the stirrup keeper. Unfasten the slide or buckle to adjust. Move the slide down the strap. Count the number of holes to position the buckle in the correct spot. Push the metal prongs through the leather at the correct hole. Move the slide into place. Reattach the stirrup keeper and repeat these steps for the opposite side.


*Photo courtesy of Stirrups in the Tack Room by Alan Creech at Flickr's Creative Commons.

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  1. Chestnut Mare
    Chestnut Mare
    Voted. Sounds like very good advice.
    1. Archippus
      Thanks! Safety depends on a proper fit.
  2. immasweetiepie
    You are such a brilliant writer. Hats off to you my friend for another outstanding article.
    1. Archippus
      Lori, your support is appreciated! Thanks!

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