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Stirrup irons and leathers for adult beginner

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    Stirrup irons and leathers for adult beginner

    I've been riding for a year now and am going to start part-boarding my schoolie, a 16'2 OTTB big mover gelding. I am mid-thirties but ran cross-country competitively growing up which really did a number on my joints.. especially hips, knees, and ankles. I've talked to my trainer (who is also the BO) and she is ok with me getting my own stirrup irons and leathers. My schoolie currently has regular fillis irons.
    I have NO inclination to jump but once I'm a more experienced beginner I would look to dressage. I also don't plan on competing... perhaps local school shows but that's the long and short of it.

    I've done a fair amount of research both here (so much info here!) and elsewhere online and am leaning towards safety stirrups. Specifically, either FreeJumps (likely the Pro+) or Tech Venice Sloped.

    I likely will order from some place in Canada so I'm including the links here from a local tack shop for reference:
    Venice Sloped:
    FreeJump Pro+:

    I am 5'10.5" and have long legs. I think the Pro+ are the best suited FreeJump style because of my height/weight/shoe size. If another style is better I would love that feedback. The Venice Sloped are also very nice (I much prefer the look of them) but I cannot seem to tell how "good" they are for minimizing impact/joint pain. I also get foot cramps pretty regularly (not just riding... generally in life!) so if that is an important decision factor and you have thoughts, I'd love to hear them.

    The other side of the equation is the stirrup leathers. If I go with the Venice Sloped they indicate they can be used with any leathers. I've done some research there, too, and the Nunn Finer seem to come highly recommended. If there's another kind to strongly consider I would love to hear about them. If I go with the freejumps it looks like they have fancy proprietary ones (a style for the Pro+ and a style for classics). I've seen reviews that you don't NEED to get the special leathers but I'm curious if the Freejump branded ones have something wonderful going for them that justify the price premium.

    So with all that rambling... Any feedback/advice is appreciated!

    PS - I know that neither of these are geared to dressage, but I did see a number of positive reviews for them here in the dressage section of COTH!

    leathers are pretty much leathers. I dont think you can go wrong with a name leather like Kieffer or Stubben or Bates. Leather only would be my choice I would not bother with nylon lined etc. Since you are undecided at this time go with brown to match the saddle you are riding in now

    With safety stirrups , since they have and inside and outside, you will want to rotate your leathers periodically.

    I have no experience with flexible stirrups and kind of gasped at the prices being listed on your site. Others with more join issue experience might be able to chime in the the more conventional flexible stirrups. They have benn around a long time and you might do better trying one of the more common one at a better price point. You might get a little more traffic and input in the hunter forum. OF the 2 you show I would go with the more conventional Venice. For showing ( even schooling hows) the other ones might get looked at a second time
    -- * > hoopoe
    Procrastinate NOW
    Introverted Since 1957


      Original Poster

      Thank you for your response! As I'm pretty new to this forum, I wasn't sure if cross-posting is generally acceptable. Keep in mind the prices on the site I linked to are in CAD, but yes, they are pretty expensive. I'm pretty bent on having safety stirrups and of course all the online research I've done often points to the most $$$$$ ones as being "best" - but since I'm not BUYING a horse right now I feel some latitude in spending more money than likely is wise on some equipment designed to keep me safer AND hopefully save my joints with wear and tear


        I shattered my ankle 20 years ago and have found that the Herm Sprenger Bow Balance or their newer Flexcite stirrups are hands down the most comfortable and flexible stirrups. I used to limp around the whole day after riding in plain metal ones, and with these, I can ride two horses 6 days a week and be completely pain-free. They are pricey, but worth every penny not to be in pain and not be limited by the rigidity in my ankle.


          Original Poster

          Thank you for your input! These Herm Sprenger products don't look like they come in a safety stirrup option - does the shape of them offer the protection from getting your foot caught?


            I found the Techs uncomfortable under my foot, I find the Acavallo safety stirrups much more comfortable (and they are cheaper!) I haven't tried Freejumps.


              Acavallo opera stirrups


                Original Poster

                conniemary were you able to identify why they were uncomfortable under your foot? Or conversely, why you found the Acavallo safety stirrups more comfy? I had looked at them but didn't see reviews that they were designed to minimize joint pain.

                Highflyer I would 100% buy the Opera stirrups today but they don't appear to have a safety release mechanism which is on my "must have" list.


                  You're right-- I mixed them up with the safety ones.


                    Look into the "stability" stirrup leathers. The top part of the stirrup strap on top is wider, and my pair (Millbrook, all leather) have really cut down on my teacher yelling at me about my drifting lower legs. My legs are happier with these leathers.

                    I love my Tech Venice sloped irons. For once in my life I don't have to keep worrying about where the stirrup irons are on my feet, in fact I can ignore these irons completely as I ride. I really like the slope since my ankles tend to break to the outside in "normal" stirrup irons, and I do not have that problem in these stirrups. I also see no way that my foot could be caught up in the stirrup if I fall off.


                      I love my Free Jumps. I got the kid-sized ones and they are okay for my foot size (7.5) but I would probably order the adult size next time. I do not like a lot of excess height in the branch and ordering the kid size helped with that. They have a nice, grippy tread and I feel safe in them since they have a flexible arm to let go of the foot in a fall. They are kind of a pain to manage when you aren’t in the tack (they don’t fold so you have to let them hang, or cross them over your saddle and risk scratching it), but they are super easy to remove and put back on. I have gotten some comments about how ugly they are, but I don’t mind the aesthetic and ugly is fine if comfortable and safe!


                        Original Poster

                        Jackie Cochran I have been looking at stability leathers - that is definitely the way I will go, thank you! And thanks for the review on the tech venice sloped. I'm considering them more and more.

                        ExpialidociousOTTB I saw someone mention they use the velvet bags that Crown Royal comes in as stirrup covers... I am thinking I'll buy a couple bottles as Christmas presents and keep the bags for myself

                        So, further investigations show that the Ophena stirrups ship to Canada now. They are REALLY interesting and I'm going to research more. I think right now my top 3 are:

                        1. Tech Venice Sloped
                        2. Samshield Shield'rup
                        3. Ophena S


                          One thing I considered when I ordered my Tech Venice Sloped irons was how easy it would be for my foot to exit the stirrups for the next time I fall off (hopefully never, lol.)

                          One reason I ended up hating the old type Peacock stirrups is that sometimes it was hard for me to get my foot out of the stirrup when I dismounted, the outside upward prong to which the elastic sides attached sometimes made it hard on me to get my foot out easily when I dismounted. Since I have MS sometimes it is hard for me to get all parts of my body exactly right for dismounting.

                          Though I liked how the Samshield's open at the bottom, there is that outside upward projecting piece just like the Peacocks have.

                          As for the Ophena stirrups, they look really neat but I just like having SOMETHING on the outside of the stirrup so my foot can tell when it has gotten way too much to the outside, which happens more frequently than I desire. Plus the fact that the eye for the stirrup leather is not across the top of the stirrup, I tried stirrups with eyes somewhat like that and I ended up with bony exostoses on both my shin bones since the edges of the stirrup leathers were hitting there. I am weak in the saddle, and being able to wrap the stirrup leather across my shin bone really helps me with keeping my lower leg stable. Sometimes my body "yells" at me, and it "yelled" at me about the Ophena stirrups when I looked at them on-line. Since you do not have MS this probably won't matter to you as much as it did for me.

                          I am old fashioned. Before I found out about the Tech stirrups on this forum my favorite stirrups were the ancient double offset Prussian-sided stirrups that were around 50 years ago (all my Fillis stirrups were destroying my feet). Since the top "bell" of these Prussian sided stirrups is so high my feet had no problems getting out of the stirrups the last time I fell off a horse.

                          But since I found the Tech Venice Sloped stirrups my feet are happy, my shin bones are happy, and I am happy. I'm glad I could afford them because their cost hurt. I FINALLY found a safety stirrup that made my feet and legs happier than the old-fashioned ones I was using, and one that is safer for me to use than the Peacock safety stirrups.

                          Since you do not have my physical problems by all means get the stirrups that suit you best. I was just explaining why I chose the Tech Venice Sloped safety stirrups over all the other ones.


                            Original Poster

                            Thank you Jackie Cochran for your detailed explanation, I really appreciate it.

                            With the Ophenas I am concerned that since I'm still a beginner I may not have a stable enough leg yet to keep my foot fully engaged in the correct position (without that outside bar). I don't have problems dropping my stirrups before dismounting but that is something else to consider, thank you!


                              Originally posted by MissusS View Post
                              conniemary were you able to identify why they were uncomfortable under your foot? Or conversely, why you found the Acavallo safety stirrups more comfy? I had looked at them but didn't see reviews that they were designed to minimize joint pain.
                              I think it was the actual footbed, it made my foot sore on longer rides. The Acavallo arenas have a different tread, which I find more comfortable. They also have a wide base (or a longer base? it's longer front to back, not side to side) so there is more to support your foot. I don't have joint pain but people who do like this aspect.


                                If you're interested in stability leathers, another brand to check out is Total Saddle Fit's leathers ~ they have regular as well as the buckle at the bottom (they call those "Slim" Stability Leathers). The wider leather helps increase stability so that there is less movement and swing:


                                  I'll second the TSF Stability stirrup leathers! As an adult re-rider it's frustrating to feel my body lose the strength to hold proper form at the end of my rides. The stability leathers provided a measurable increase in my lower legs stability, ie I was able to center 3 rounds in good form rather than only 1 or 2 the first time I rode in them.

                                  As for stirrups I too really wanted freejumps, I tried the kid sized (called freejumps pro lite I believe) and while I loved them they were too small to be safe (weird since I'm also a 7.5). I was also worried about the safety aspect of having the opening of the branch in the outside ( stories of people getting reins etc caught in them).

                                  I ended up buying Safestyle stirrups instead ( much more budget friendly even with overseas shipping) they were the only offset eye safety stirrup I could find in my price range and they have a 'faux-fillis' looking one I wouldn't be afraid to ride in for a dressage lesson. No idea if you can show in them. The safety mechanism is on the inside which seems slightly safer in my mind.
                                  A student in all things.


                                    MissusS I was on this same search (safety stirrups with better joint comfort), and I tried the Acavallo Alupro. Absolutely wrecked my knees after one ride - I think the metal cheese grater pad was just too much for me. I ended up with MDC Ultimate stirrups, which I love. I have MDC Comfort stirrups on my Dressage saddle, and they have always been great for me. I was hoping to get something lighter with more safety features than the MDCs (they are 2 lbs each, so that is a valid consideration). However, it ended up being crucial that I have an angled stirrup and a softer footbed in order to enjoy my rides. While I haven't had to test it, in the event of fall, the MDCs are jointed (Ultimates) and can be angled out better, so I suspect my foot would not get stuck as easily as as traditional stirrup. I may consider FreeJumps myself when I am actually jumping at higher levels and a lighter stirrup may be more important. Note: You could also look at extreme lightweight stirrups, too. I have a pair of Compositi's that I use in the rain, and they haven't ever given me knee pain. I have been tossed in those, and my feet came clean out.


                                      Original Poster

                                      Thank you everyone for chiming in! I'm seriously considering the TSF Stability stirrup leathers. They show a ship time of 3-4 weeks, so I'd like to order them soon. I am also 90%+ convinced on the Samshield Sheild'rups, the only hesitation being they are sold out pretty well everywhere! I can only find them in a few places for an obscene markup (OR with $100+ shipping charges). A local tack shop thinks they will get an order in late Oct or early Nov. Sounds like the manufacturer hasn't been able to produce them. Fingers crossed.


                                        I'm a fan of the Venice Techs. Admittedly, I'm also a fan of plain ol' Fillis irons, so YMMV. The Techs have a wider footbed and more grip, so they're very stable. I personally detest anything that flexes.

                                        They do come in sizes (there's a children's pair at my barn), so if the 4 3/4" is what's holding you back, it's worth hunting around to see if they make a larger size as well.