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Keep rider's foot in english stirrup

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  • Keep rider's foot in english stirrup

    Hi Everyone -
    I have been so appreciative of everyone's help in the past - and I'm back for more! I am a NARHA certified instructor and have extensive experience with teaching able-bodied students in the past - but I am the only instructor at my center that works on riding skills. The rest work more recreational riding. The students I work with are the only ones who are interested to work towards independent riding. So while I am blessed to be there - there isn't much of a sounding board.

    I have a student with right side weakness/hemiplegic (I've posted for other help in the past) Her hamstrings on one side are contracted - and thus getting her heels level with her toes is a big accomplishment. (Heels 'down' has not been able to be achieved yet, and may not happen) While this has not presented a significant problem in the past, now that she is trotting she is having problems with her stirrup on that one side. One of two things happens:
    1. She loses the stirrup
    2. The stirrup wedges itself on her arch.

    The second is a safety problem - she gets so tightly wedged that, in the event of a fall, her foot could not come out of the (safety) stirrup.

    Any tack/equipment suggestions? I vaguely remember someone mentioning off-handedly, years ago, using rubber bands.

  • #2
    How about those magnetic stirrups advertised on the right hand side of the forum (SmartPak I think). Has anyone tried those? For a case like this it might be helpful.


    • #3

      They are called OnTyte. And you can see them at www.ontyte.com They are at Dover and a number of other shops.

      I have fallen off a number of times and the system has not caused any issues. In fact my feet came out cleaner because my foot had not gone in and several times before On Tyte my unweighted stirrups had let my foot go farther in during the fall causing my toe to catch. I think these are exactly what you are looking for.

      The OnTyte utilize a specialty magnet in the stirrup and a steel plate in the boot. The "inline" can be ordered with new boots or you can get your own boots resoled. The plus is you can choose where you like your stirrup and any angle. They are showing rubbers with the plates now, but I have the kind that is in the boot.


      • Original Poster

        Oh those would be perfect! Sadly, unless a company is willing to donate a pair, I think it will not happen. OnTytes are great – I would *love* to have a pair for the center. Unfortuntly they would most likely be used only by the one student – and are hard to come up with the money. Paticular rider is on a horse 40 minutes once a week - and is on a full riding scholarship. Boots are an old pair of hand-me-down lace-ups. Function, but not pretty.
        Any other ideas for less expensive, perhaps more temporary options?


        • #5
          Cages for the stirrups will help with the foot too far in problem.



          • #6
            I have had the same problem as your student with keeping my feet in the stirrups. I had a spinal cord injury and am numb in my feet, legs and butt because of it.

            Here is the step-by-step information given to me by srg, a COTH member who took the time to explain what she was talking about when I pm'ed her with questions about banding a foot into the stirrup after reading something she had written about it:

            "If you Google #107 rubber band, you will find tons of sources to buy the bands and they are cheap. When your foot is out of the stirrup you put the band around the toe of your boot, then place your foot in the stirrup where you want it, twist the band underneath the stirrup and band it over the toe again. It gives me a very secure feeling when riding, but requires someone else to band and unband."

            I can't tell you what a breakthrough this has been for me and my riding.


            • #7
              If you work at a NARHA center, you should check the rules before you use anything that attaches any part of the rider to the horse or the tack - even something as seemingly harmless and easily releasable as a rubber band.

              I understand your desire to teach "riding skills" but, when working with someone who has any type of physical disability, you might also need to spend periods of time during the lessons working on things that will assist them in independently doing things that come more easily to able bodied riders. When I worked with riders with similar issues, part of my lessons would be, for example, having them bring the horse to the walk and then fix the stirrup themselves. Yeah, it is slow going and takes a while for them to figure out, with my assistance, the best way for them to maneuver their leg and weight to bring the foot where it needed to be, but, as time passed, they were able to both realize when their foot was not in the correct position and were able to fix it on their own. Sure, it meant sometimes needing to stop whatever we were working on for a moment but it got increasingly quicker with time.


              • Original Poster

                Shanky - Thank you for your suggestions. I checked NARHA's resources before posting this thread. I was just looking for additional ideas and suggestions, as there is a wealth of knowledge and experience here. I, of course, would never consider taking a suggestion from an internet board and blindly implementing it without checking with various authorities. Many find this surprising, but there are no NARHA guidelines or requirements in regards to attaching a rider to the horse. It is left up to each center. My center will not allow, for good reason, a rider to be tied to a horse. However, banding with a rubber band in order to prevent a rider's foot from wedging into a safety stirrup is an entirely different thing.

                My personal desires or motives have nothing to do with my students' activities. My job is to help them achieve their goals - which, for this student, are to continue to improve her riding skills and socialize.

                If the student was loosing her stirrup due to an incorrect foot position, your idea to halt and reposition would be the key. However, due to the rider's contracted hamstrings, achieving a 'heels down' position, which anchors one's foot in one's stirrup, is not possible biomechanically. So while I agree that teaching the student in such a manner that he/she can become independent is essential, this is a problem that I expect, regardless of countless hours spent practicing, will not abate. Unless this student's hamstrings can magically lengthen, typical riding strategies and or positioning will not be possible or work. Hence, the purpose of a therapeutic riding center, where we sometimes take an unconventional route.


                • #9
                  Maybe srg will post, as I remember her getting involved in stirrup alternatives. In the meantime, a good friend of mine has familial spastic paraplegia and the same problem with tight legs and toes down, heels up. She uses regular stirrups and Velcro straps (about 1/2-inch thick) to Velcro them to the girth. It helps keep the stirrups where they should be and she can push against them or move around in them without them riding up her foot and wedging.
                  I evented just for the Halibut.


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by In_ View Post

                    If the student was loosing her stirrup due to an incorrect foot position, your idea to halt and reposition would be the key. However, due to the rider's contracted hamstrings, achieving a 'heels down' position, which anchors one's foot in one's stirrup, is not possible biomechanically. So while I agree that teaching the student in such a manner that he/she can become independent is essential, this is a problem that I expect, regardless of countless hours spent practicing, will not abate. Unless this student's hamstrings can magically lengthen, typical riding strategies and or positioning will not be possible or work. Hence, the purpose of a therapeutic riding center, where we sometimes take an unconventional route.
                    Thanks for explaining to me the purpose of a TR center!

                    If you have worked with students with CP or any other physical issue that causes hypertonicity, you will see that the "heels down" of which you speak is not possible for many of them. The hypertonicity makes keeping the stirrup positioned correctly more challenging, it makes lots of things we take for granted more difficult, but not impossible.

                    In fact, "heels down" as a way to anchor feet in the stirrups is not the preferred method in all disciplines: It's a beginning step for H/J riders but, once anybody is more advanced, the position of the heel is not what's keeping the stirrup/foot relationship stable. With riders who have issues with the muscles being hypertonic, sometimes the best bet is to skip over this baby-step, teach replacement skills & alternative strategies, and consider the stirrup issue from a non-H/J perspective. How do DQs keep their stirrups?

                    Is there an OT or a PT at your center with whom you can consult?


                    • #11
                      Yes... how do DQs keep their stirrups? sylvia, who is thinking it might have something to do w/lower leg strength and the lower leg being 'on' the horse, but who isn't exactly sure.
                      Never explain yourself to someone who is committed to misunderstanding you.


                      • #12
                        We use Toe Stoppers (http://www.american-flex.com/toe%20stoppers.htm) for riders with similar problems. They work really nicely in helping the foot stay secure in the stirrup as well as keeping the toe from getting too far into the stirrups for safety.
                        Karma and Drifter girl


                        • Original Poster

                          Wanted to update to let you know that we tried to rubber band idea and had excellent success. Rider was comfortable, safe, and secure.

                          Sincere thanks for all the help and suggestions.


                          • #14
                            I have a new student that has just received approval for Para-Equestrian Disabled Rider 4 status. She showed me a picture of the 'rubber bands' last Monday. There is also a rubber band that attaches to the stirrup pad and then stretches to the heel of the rider and is placed around the 'spur stop' on their boot which also helps to stablilize their foot. The elastic band would definitely break in event of a fall. It looks very interesting. I am going to try it out with an able bodied rider that loses her stirrup this weekend for fun!
                            "Don't make be BEG dahling...
                            you KNOW I won't do it!" Edna Mode