View Full Version : The Great Stirrup Iron Debate!

Nov. 23, 2011, 10:22 PM
So, I am aware that many trainers do not care for the bendy/flexible/jointed irons, especially for equitation riders. However, I wanted to see what was the general consensus on these: http://www.doversaddlery.com/product.asp?pn=X1-0752&ids=714098970 (comfort stirrup pads). For those that have them, do you feel that they help a lot? Do trainers and judges tend to dislike these as much as they dislike the flexible irons? (I realize that every trainer/judge is going to have a different opinion; just looking for a general feeling here) and again this would pertain mostly to those that do the equitation or hunters. I do a lot of no-stirrups work in my lessons. Do you think these pads would prevent me from easily slipping my foot out when necessary? I like the idea of having a little extra grip, but I also try to stick with very conservative turnout for myself (clean boots, breeches with tucked in polo shirt and belt, hair net, etc.). I wouldn't want anything that distracted from a neat, professional look or anything that was considered "gimmicky".

Thank you again, wise COTHers!

Nov. 23, 2011, 10:34 PM
I ride in those - with my jointed stirrups :) I have bad knees and jointed stirrups are a lifesaver for me. Anyhow, those are super grippy and make me feel a lot more secure than regular rubber pads. I noticed a huge difference within the first five minutes. They don't 'hold' your foot in though, just prevent it from slipping around when wet or full of sand type of thing. They definitely won't cause your foot to stay in the stirrup in any sort of emergency or when you try to drop your stirrups. I love em, but I ride jumpers, so it doesn't really matter as far as shows go for me.

Hunter Mom
Nov. 23, 2011, 10:37 PM
I got mine this summer and LOVE them. As long as your foot is in the stirrup, you really cannot see them. They give a great "grip" without being stuck, but I don't lose a stirrup often any more. I haven't noticed any difference in being able to pick my stirrups up or drop them. I think they also give a little extra cushion that I don't get with my traditional Fillis irons. I'd get another pair in a second.

Nov. 24, 2011, 12:01 AM
The only reason I ever look at what others are doing is think it may be a really good product and go from there.

You need to ride in what works for you. Some people have knee issues etc. and need to use what works for them.

I do like the cheese grater type stirrups because they do offer better security. I don't care for the flex type they feel weird to me. I do like the wider foot bed type stirrups.

I know there are riders and trainers that don't like the "gimmicky" stirrups - but for most of us here and the level we ride; it wont make a hill of beans difference other than your comfort and what works for you. If you like the irons I would put a grip pad on like the one you posted. The traditional white pads tend to get hard and slippery.

Nov. 24, 2011, 12:07 AM
I wouldn't have needed the flexi stirrups when I was a junior - but as an adult, with the short galloping stirrup length for eventing, they are a godsend. I don't care what any trainer (or judge) thinks about the look.

It's the results that matter. A great position is a great position.

Nov. 24, 2011, 12:11 AM
I've had these for a couple of years and like them a lot. They do help a little to keep you from losing a stirrup. There are sharpish points on the bottom, but they never seem to be in a position to scratch your saddle. Overall, I recommend!

Nov. 24, 2011, 12:20 AM
My opinion is do whatever makes your body feel comfortable. If it helps your knees or other joints feel better then go for it. You only get one set. Take care of them :)

Nov. 24, 2011, 12:36 AM
I love my regular, non-jointed irons. But I do understand that a lot of people have joint pain and other reasons to use the jointed ones. I would really rather not see them in the eq ring though.

Nov. 24, 2011, 12:36 AM
Thanks for the comments so far! In addition to the added grip, I was interested in them for the extra comfort. Since I ride in regular non-jointed irons, there isn't much to absorb any extra shock. I am a young adult, but my knees have taken a beating from a few years of running in college. Looks like they are a good buy!

Nov. 24, 2011, 01:17 AM
I like them quite a lot. I have them on both my saddles (on my Bow Balance stirrups, hehe). They are great! Etra cushion, really grippy. I've shown everywhere in them on my hunter.

Nov. 24, 2011, 01:19 AM
I have these on my non-jointed stirrup irons, as well as my jointed stirrup irons (neither of which I ride in right now fwiw) and I dont think they add any extra COMFORT or shock absorbtion.... They certainly add a lot of grip, though!

Nov. 24, 2011, 01:34 AM
I definitely wouldn't say that the pads absorb any shock whatsoever. They're pads, plain and simple. I've had them for years and really like them! They keep your foot pretty secure. I'm actually looking into getting Royal Riders with cheese grater pads right now. The cheese graters really lock your foot into the stirrup. If you're looking for security, I would go for cheese graters.

M. O'Connor
Nov. 24, 2011, 08:38 AM
I think the issue on stirrup pads is that the 'perfect' one has yet to be invented. The rubber ones work for about a week before they have to be tossed. The sandpaper ones work very well for a couple of months. The cheese-grater ones tear up the soles of your shoes/boots (and resoling is an expense!). The wrap ones shown on the link are ok, but certainly do not look nice, especially when fastened with zip-ties as is necessary to ensure they don't release when they near the end of their useful life span.

As for the flex stirrups, I don't like them at all, and use several saddles with regular Fillis irons, and one with Royal Rider graphite stirrups (I guess these are technically not 'irons'). I use and quite like the ProJump treads on the Fillis irons, have had them for years, and they do not wear out, but do add weight to the saddle. The Royal Riders treads are going strong after several years of use and don't seem too hard on the shoes/boots, either.

As far as the flex stirrups go, I really don't like them, either for myself or for my students. I've never understood the mechanism by which they are supposed to help with knee or ankle pain, particularly since after sufferning a very bad injury (sprained ankle with fibula fracture and separation from the tibia) several years ago, tried flex stirrups in an effort to 'protect' my leg from stress and found them to increase the strain I felt, rather than alleviate it.

I have observed firsthand from the judge's booth and in teaching how beginners and intermediate riders using flex stirrups struggle endlessly with instability issues that completely preclude the development of a sufficient base of support and independent hands. Is it this struggle that leads riders to conclude that they need to "protect" their joints? In teaching, I just don't use them--in judging, I don't need to look for them or not; balanced rides and good positions win out over 'otherwise;' perhaps I am overlooking an opportunity to look for a correlation, but there are enough other things to fill my card with, I don't need one more!

I honestly feel that poorly fitted (to the rider) saddles with excessive knee and thigh padding, combined with the use of flexible stirrups is at the root of most balance problems that I have seen riders struggling with in recent years, and I sincerely wonder if these two factors are at the root of the 'preying mantis syndrome' that is so widely decried?

Hunter Mom
Nov. 24, 2011, 09:49 AM
I have observed firsthand from the judge's booth and in teaching how beginners and intermediate riders using flex stirrups struggle endlessly with instability issues that completely preclude the development of a sufficient base of support and independent hands. Is it this struggle that leads riders to conclude that they need to "protect" their joints?

I think your observation is spot on. I used jointed stirrups because they were 'supposed" to help with joint pain. I used them for probably 2 years. Then I had a crash and hurt my ankle. I switched to peacock stirrups to avoid any further injury while it was healing and found that my base of support was FAR better without those darn flexible stirrups. After my injury had healed enough I switched to old fashioned stirrups and love them. Several of the girls at the barn have also left behind their jointed stirrups for similar reasons.

ETA - I still think the pads that the OP asked about are quite nice. They're a nice middle ground of grippiness without tearing up boots.

Nov. 24, 2011, 10:00 AM
I absolutely love those stirrup pads. If you take out the rubber one already in, and tighten the zip ties very tightly directly underneath, and cut them close to the tie, then they are really not bad looking at all. I have them on both of my CC saddles, and both actually have the herm sprenger jointed stirrups as well. the black and black look good together i think.

i didn't have flex stirrups until I graduated from peacock stirrups when I was 13 or 14 I suppose. I was always small and on a pony so I wore peacock stirrups for a long while.

Nov. 24, 2011, 10:03 AM
Never tried those, but I love my cheese graters, and I've never had them tear up the bottom of my soles!! I just find the cheese graters stop my foot from slipping out in wet weather better than anything.

I'm not a fan of flexi stirrups, for me personally, I find the lack of stability through the ankle makes me feel less secure!

My trainer swears by these for stability over large fences with a back-cracking horse (she has very short legs also) so I'd like to try them, but not sure if I can justify the expense (silver or black only though): http://www.jinstirrup.it/

Nov. 24, 2011, 10:07 AM
One time I grabbed someones cheese grater stirrup to pull it down...I just about cried. It slashed up the inside of my hand. :/

Nov. 24, 2011, 10:53 AM
I'm not a fan of flexi stirrups, for me personally, I find the lack of stability through the ankle makes me feel less secure!

That was my feeling as well.

I used them for a few months, and thought they were very comfortable, but when a horse took off bucking with me and I reflexively shoved my heels down, it felt like the stirrup had too much give when I wanted to brace against it.

So I switched back to my regular Fillis stirrups after that experience.

As far as judging, I don't like the black stirrups in equitation, just because they make it harder to see the position of the foot in the stirrup. There was a rule against the black stirrups in equitation a few years ago, but it didn't last long- I think too many people either didn't know about the rule in the first place or forgot to change the stirrups.

Nov. 24, 2011, 11:52 AM
I have the comfort pads, and I prefer them. I also have cheese graters, which are okay, but I like the comfort pads better. I can't really pinpoint....except I do have a habit of slipping my foot out of the iron at the trot (been that way since I was about 12) and it just doesn't happen in the comfort pads. I also had a pair of leathers 100% chewed up by the cheese graters.

But I loathe flex irons. It was like riding in jello. I know a ton of people love the Royal Riders, I've never tried them. I just think they look weird since I prefer the traditional "chrome."

Nov. 24, 2011, 11:58 AM
I was debating getting myself a pair of the jointed irons for myself as I am still recovering from a fairly severe knee injury. Thanks to the comments here, I am going to save my money and stick with my plain 'ol fillis irons. Thanks for sharing your experiences with the rest of us. It sure helps.

Nov. 24, 2011, 01:33 PM
I ride with these pads on my regular old-fashioned irons, to me they really are comfortable and very grippy (without the annoying-ness that comes from the metal cheese grater stirrup pads). I've shown in hunters in them and jumpers, and in pictures you can hardly even tell that I have them - so I doubt a judge has ever noticed. My consensus is go for them!

Nov. 24, 2011, 02:01 PM
I tried flex stirrups for a couple of months a few years ago and did not like them at all. They did not help my bad knees and I had a heck of a time keeping them when I was jumping. I rarely lose my stirrups in my plain old steel safety stirrups, so I switched back to them.

Nov. 24, 2011, 02:33 PM
I had flexi stirrups, but they weren't super flexible. I don't remember what it was like to change from regular to flexi, but when I changed from flexi to the regular fillis irons, I definitely felt it in my knee for the first ride. I've been riding in them for a few years now and I don't notice them.
I also had the regular Royal Rider ones, which I LOVE the wide foot bed and the cheese grater stirrup pads (once I figured out how to pull them down/roll them up without scratching my saddle.) However, I preferred the look of the regular fillis ones for hunters and it was really hard to pick them up after I lost a stirrup or dropped them. Once when I lost my stirrup when riding a medium pony, it flew out and hit him in the face because it was so light. I decided to switch then ;)
I currently have the comfort pads with the zip ties. I don't find them too much more comfortable, but I don't lose my stirrup as much as with the regular pads that seem to wear out so quickly. Plus, since it wraps around, it "grips" more of my shoe than the regular. They still aren't like the Royal Rider cheese graters though!

Nov. 24, 2011, 02:52 PM
IMHO the only people who will have a freak out about "gimmicky" stirrups are those that don't need them and haven't experienced their benefits. Let us cripples have our jointed stirrups. I don't care if George Morris comes at me with an AK47, I shall not relinquish my jointed stirrups!!!!!!

I actually feel more secure with jointed stirrups over bigger jumps, I know I'm weird.

Nov. 24, 2011, 03:39 PM
I actually couldn't tell any difference in stability at all when I switched to jointed stirrups, over fences or on the flat. Absolutely no difference to me.

What I did notice immediately however, was the fact that I never again experienced the breath-takingly sharp stabbing pains in my knees when landing from jumps or every time my youngster decided to be a twerp and do something silly like buck or go sideways ;)

And I already said I love the pads in my first post - I just came back to defend my jointed stirrups :)