View Full Version : Can't find it in the rule book, are these stirrups legal?

Couture TB
Mar. 26, 2012, 11:04 PM
I have a junior rider who do to physical therapy is finding these stirrups the best to help her with getting more weight in her heels http://www.horseloverz.com/KMSS-Toes-Up-Swivel-Fillis-Stirrups---4-14-pr-652565.html I don't know if they are the exact ones, just ones I had lying around. But same use etc. I can't find if it is legal for her to show at anything other then schooling shows in them in the short stirrup classes.

TIA, and these are just to help her tendons stretch, not for her to be in for the rest of her life for the people that are going to say they are a cheat etc......

Mar. 26, 2012, 11:19 PM
I know the "bendy" stirrups are acceptable in anything but equitation, and I'd assume that would be the case with these as well.

Mar. 27, 2012, 06:36 AM
There aren't rules but it's more of the judges decision. They could be considered unconventional tack. Most likely only would effect her in Equitation but it would depend on how noticeable they are when she is in the ring.

I do know some (at least all the ones I have personally asked) hate the black stirrups. The reason is the stirrup blends in with the boot and makes it hard to see if the foot is properly placed in the stirrup and if the ankle, toe and heel are properly positioned. (I think that was the gist of it)

M. O'Connor
Mar. 27, 2012, 08:08 AM
I am a USEF judge and an instructor....there are good reasons to avoid flexible stirrups in the early stages of a rider's education.

In my opinion (which is in agreement with widely recognized experts, including George Morris, and others), flexible stirrups impede rather than enhance the development of a secure base of support.

In particular, I've noticed that as an elementary level rider is in the process of establishing a good leg position, flexible stirrups are very difficult to work with.

For one thing, most flex both ways, which can easily result in the stirrup sliding too far onto the foot, and even cause it to become stuck that way--and none are offered in a 'safety style' that would allow for the automatic release of the rider's foot should they become unbalanced or unseated.

A correct and secure position is sometimes not very natural feeling to many beginners, and it doesn't help to provide them with an unstable surface, that actually pivots, to place their weight on...I know some of you are thinking "WHAT?"

You are thinking that "weight belongs in our heels!" But only PART of a rider's weight sinks down into the heels, while a significant portion of a rider's weight remains on the stirrup--this is especially so when a rider works in two point, posts, or jumps. If ALL the rider's weight went only to the heel, the rider's leg would shoot forward all the time, causing extreme instability, and making it impossible to develop an independent hand and arm.

Some people, of course, have better natural balance than others, and many can eventually develop a good position IN SPITE of their safety stirrups, but the majority will be able to develop a good position much more quickly without them, because a solid "floor" beneath their feet offers more support for a correctly placed leg.

Unless a physical therapist has specifically indicated the necessity of using flex stirrups (and this needs to be established on a case-by-case basis), I would not assume that a rider who faces physical challenges would benefit from using them. Just as with horses, a soft surface is more prone to result in discomfort and injury than a hard one.

I don't object to an adult rider who has already learned to ride making the decision to use a flexible stirrup--and many good riders use them. But I think they are better used by advanced riders with well-established good habits, and in children that are still growing, I would think that if asked, an orthopedist might have reservations about the extra stresses flex stirrups place on growth plates and ligaments (are there any orthopedists in the house?).

As far as competing with them, if there is any weakness in a rider's overall balance and position, it will be revealed during the course of a performance or subsequent test--if the stirrup (or anything else) is causing a weak or compromised base of support, the rider will have to regain any lost balance through other means. The result of this will be that the judge has many opportunities to place negative comments on a scorecard.

Just because "the winner" uses flexible stirrups, one should not assume an automatic association--they are rather prevalent in the show ring, along with poor balance and a lack of independent hand and arms. (Looking at it this way, using traditional stirrups might be a pretty cheap way to gain an edge over the wobblers out there... :yes: )

As for black stirrups, they are definitely less formal in appearance; while they might make it hard in some conditions to see a rider's foot clearly, this is seldom an issue for me--again, if there is a weak link anywhere it will normally reveal itself in other ways somewhere in the rider's performance during the course of a class.

Mar. 27, 2012, 09:36 AM
Although they are clearly the devil and are therefore responsible for the downfall of equitation :rolleyes: they are certainly not against the rules in any hunter classes, where it is supposed to be the horse that is being judged, or jumpers. I would try to avoid them in the eq.

Sometimes when we're coming back from an injury, we have to work with what makes it possible to ride. I know that when I hurt my knees, the flexible stirrup was a godsend. Is it 100% ideal? No, but neither was my body at the time. If the choice is between being in pain/not riding versus using a crutch, thank you, I'll take the crutch.

I'm sure my equitation is now ruined and I've destroyed society.

Mar. 27, 2012, 09:54 AM
I'm sure they're legal, but I think they're tacky.

Mar. 27, 2012, 10:04 AM
So, should those of us who use them because riding with regular stirrups hurts aggravate our injuries in the hopes that we won't look tacky?

Just seems like an odd thing to say.

Mar. 27, 2012, 10:08 AM
At home, no problem. I don't think they have any place in the show ring. Just MHO.

Mar. 27, 2012, 10:28 AM
They are legal. At short stirrup level, I'm willing the bet the judge cares more about the kid staying on, getting leads, and the correct strides then 'unconventional tack'

M. O'Connor
Mar. 27, 2012, 11:18 AM
They are legal, but not ideal, and I provided my line of reasoning for drawing my conclusions.

There are always exceptions, and there is no reason to take offense at anyone's well reasoned opinions.

Trixie, did you learn in them, or simply begin to use them because they made you more comfortable?

I find that riders who already have an established position that is basically correct can normally use them with no ill effects. For those who haven't reached that milestone, I find it hinders development of correct balance.

That's just my opinion, but it is shared by quite a few others who also evaluate various levels of riders on a regular basis.

I don't recall insinuating that society is decaying because of it, though.

Big Grey, in SS I would expect to see safety stirrups; the flex stirrups don't even come in sizes appropriate for small children, so I'd hope not to see any in that ring.

Mar. 27, 2012, 11:30 AM
You could always wrap the sides in black vetwrap to make them look like the jointed stirrups.

S A McKee
Mar. 27, 2012, 11:35 AM
At home, no problem. I don't think they have any place in the show ring. Just MHO.

I'd guess you think accomodations for disabled riders are tacky or don't belong in the show ring either?

Mar. 27, 2012, 11:58 AM
Wow. Did people get up on the wrong side of the bed this morning? For a simple, honest question with a specific reason included, and a thoughtful, knowledgeable response, there's a lot of snark here.


Mar. 27, 2012, 12:09 PM
Boy, lots of piss in the Cheerios this morning.

Back to the OP, no they are not "illegal".

There are pros and cons like with anything else.

I doubt it would be much of an issue unless it was a competitive class at high levels where every detail matters. But you could have a judge that did not care for the black ones or the bendy ones along the line and they are allowed to factor that into their scores. And they CAN create new position flaws replacing the ones they are supposed to fix.

I used the bendy ones for awhile. They did help with stretching out BUT I learned a strong and correct position in plain old fillis irons kept the pressure off my lower back and allowed a proper heel better then the bendy ones did.

I also never did feel much shock relief as I never really jumped high enough often enough to create any.:lol:

Mar. 27, 2012, 12:41 PM
Gee whiz, people. I dislike the jointed stirrups. I think that they create more problems than they fix, and no, I don't think they belong in the show ring. They screw up stability. Traditional fillis irons always are best for showing. I'm traditional, so sue me!

Mar. 27, 2012, 01:33 PM
IMO, those particular irons look dangerous. I haven't ridden in them (and I dislike riding in any kind of jointed iron. Yes, they're great on my old knees. But even with an independent position, I feel like they don't offer the correct support. I live with the sore knees because I'd rather feel secure and correct in the saddle) but the way they flex looks like a fall waiting to happen.

This is what I see happening with these (and again, haven't used them, maybe it doesn't): Rider in two-point, stretching heels down. Iron rotates forward. Heels sink down more. Iron rotates forward more. In order to keep the support of the iron, rider pushes leg forward in an attempt to "keep up" with the rotation of the iron. Rider ends up in a chair seat and has no support from the irons at a critical time on course, and being severely off-balance, is much more susceptible to having a spill. They just look like you'd end up in a vicious cycle of chasing the stirrup for support. As M. said, this would be even more difficult for a beginner, as many beginners already have a tendency toward a slight chair seat.

While I prefer the look of a traditional iron in the show ring, I understand that some people may need to ride with something different to accommodate pain or injury, but I also don't think pain or injury is the cause for the rampant use of jointed irons.

Mar. 27, 2012, 01:43 PM
I thought M O'Connor's response was very thoughtful and detailed and well-reasoned.

I use the flex stirrups for jumping, but I'm an adult and using a short stirrup for cross-country. The flex stirrups solve a problem for me where I was having some numbness in my right foot. I think her rationale for not supporting their use for juniors without a specific physical reason is quite thoughtful.

OP might consider that there are some other irons that might also serve if there is a specific physical issue.

Mar. 27, 2012, 02:11 PM
Donkerbruin, my orthopedist would disagree with you.

I’m not inherently disagreeing with some of the ideas here - but I will say that it might be best if we suggest that the OP consult the child's physician or physical therapist to make sure she understands what will and won’t exacerbate the injury, unless she herself has qualifications in sports medicine. Sometimes it’s just not as simple as “soft surface = more likely to cause injury.” I would hope that she’s done that, since the question was rule-specific, not about the mechanics of the stirrups themselves.

(this is, of course, going on the theory that “do to physical therapy” means that the child has a therapist and is using the stirrups for a reason and under supervision)

FWIW, the ones in the ad above are 4 ¼”, if I remember right, the safety stirrups start at 4” and go to 4 ½”. I could see a kid being able to use 4 ¼”, though I don’t know if these stirrups in particular are the best bet.

Mar. 27, 2012, 04:11 PM
What about traditional irons with something like these (http://www.sstack.com/english_fittings_ironspads/dangles-stirrup-pads/)? I'm not sure of the nature of the injury, but if she just needs more help flexing, these might be a discrete way to encourage that. I've never tried them myself, but knew a QH trainer who swore by them (which may or may not be in their favor).

Mar. 27, 2012, 04:56 PM
I wouldn't show in the stirrups linked to in the OP. I have ridden in stirrups like that while playing polo in which they are very helpful for all the crazy positions you do and help you from loosing a stirrup.

If you want a flexible iron then I would go with a sprenger or a knock of them. That what I ride in. I tried to go back to the fillis, but my toes go numb when I ride in them.

Mar. 27, 2012, 09:50 PM
What about traditional irons with something like these (http://www.sstack.com/english_fittings_ironspads/dangles-stirrup-pads/)? I'm not sure of the nature of the injury, but if she just needs more help flexing, these might be a discrete way to encourage that. I've never tried them myself, but knew a QH trainer who swore by them (which may or may not be in their favor).

I don't have any (major) physical issues, but I have ridden with D'Angles and they are, in fact, the devil and responsible for the downfall of society. ;) They really disturbed my balance--I kept putting more and more of my foot in the stirrup because the ball of my foot wanted to balance on the top of the angle (near the front of the pad). I was worried that, when I put weight in my stirrups (I had to brace against a puller), I would slip straight down out of them.

But, hey, that's just me.