I was reading something online not too long ago in regards to jointed stirrups helping with ligaments and joints and reducing the impact to them. Well, seeing how I have one broken leg and another ankle with two torn ligaments, this really caught my attention
I bought a pair of knock-off brands almost 4-5 years ago (maybe $40 or something like that). Is there a difference between the knock off's and the more-expensive, name brands (like H.S.)? I figured if the name-brands truly did make a difference, it would be a pretty good investment. I saw a several H.S. offered on ebay, so if for some reason I ended up not liking them, at least I didn't spend days worth of work on them
I have a pair of the cheap $40 stirrups, and a pair of $180 MDC stirrups that have a rotating snap thing on the top of the stirrup. I much much prefer the MDC stirrups. I have a weak right ankle and used to get shooting pains up my right leg if I rode for longer than an hour. After getting the MDC stirrups, 99% of my pain went away. The rotation on the top of the stirrup means you can have the stirrup facing perindicular to the saddle so you don't have to twist your leathers at all, and it has the flexible sides so that it provides a stress relief and makes it easier for heels down. The simple flexie stirrups are better than solid metal ones, but the MDC stirrups are a definite step above that and worth the money for me.
I always rode in plain phillis irons until I had a bad ankle injury. Broken bones/torn ligagments/surgery...you get the idea! My ankle was so weak and I had lost so much range of motion that when I started back riding again I couldn't twist my ankle in enough to grab the stirrup, so had to reach down and twist it so I could get my foot in. I ended up buying the MDC ultimate stirrups for my dressage saddle and the Herm Sprenger Bow Balance for my jump saddle. The MDCs are nice because they can have more of an angle offset since you can make the eye perpendicular to the iron. The Herm Sprenger have some offset, but also have a wider footbed which I think is really helpful for stability when you're getting your range of motion back. I've ridden in the cheapy versions and they don't come close. If I didn't have a bum ankle, maybe it wouldn't make much of a difference, but if you have a legitimate issue, definitely splurge and go for the more expensive ones!
I'll add a nay for ankle injuries. I find that they allow too much give in my ankle which hurts! I think they allow your ankle to sink too far to be supportive. While this can be good if you have stiff ankles, for a healing injury it might not work as well.
I have had both the Sprengers and the Royal Flex Rider stirrups, and have to say I really love the Royal Flex stirrups. Their "flex" seems to be a little more subtle, which means greater support and stability, while still giving you the shock absorbing quality.
I like my $40 Sta-Brite ones better than the more expensive ones. They seem to have less give and only flex back and forth, not any other direction like some of the other ones seem to. They have just enough give to make my knees not hurt, but not so much that my leg feels destabilized even when I'm tearing around on trails and jumping stuff in the woods.
I have only used the MDC Ultimates, so I can't compare them to other brands. But, I can say that for me they make a huge difference vs. non-jointed, regular eye stirrups. My knees and back notice if I am riding without them. I've also noticed even just when I've forgotten to adjust the angle of the stirrup leather (meaning, I notice when the eye for the stirrup is in the tradtional setting vs. offset or 90 degrees). So, personally, I think the offsetting aspect of the MDCs can be just as important as flexing ability (at least for my knees).
I have a horrible knee (typing with it propped up on pillows as I hurt it again actually!). I get pain in my knee and numbness in my foot when riding. I ride in breakaway stirrups because I'm paranoid about getting hung up. Are there any safety stirrups that also have the eyelet rotating thingamajob? Sounds like just what I need to take the pressure off! Or does anyone know if these will release you easier than a normal stirrup?
"We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing."
This link shows you how the MDC stirrups are different. In addition to the flexible sides, they have a joint at the top of the stirrup where it is connected to the leather. You twist this joint and it can change the stirrup to a 45* or 90* angle from your horse, so you don't have to struggle to keep your feet in the stirrups. The joint will stay where you put it while you ride, and I have found that turning my stirrups to 90* greatly reduced my ankle pain and weakness.