The Best Stirrups Guide for Western Saddles
If you are looking for help figuring out what stirrups to buy, you came to the right place. We're sharing all the essential information you need to know about Western stirrups. You'll find out how to measure stirrups, how to put on stirrups, how to adjust stirrups, and, finally, how to turn stirrups on a Western saddle for a more comfortable ride. Read more to find the best stirrups for Western riding.
How to Choose the Best Stirrups for Western Saddles
The first step in finding the best stirrups is to consider the kind of riding you'll be doing because each discipline requires a slightly different type of stirrup.
- Trail riding
- Barrel racing
Once you know what stirrups to buy, next comes the fun part — choosing the style! But first, you might be asking, "How much do stirrups cost?" The answer depends on the material and design. Stirrups are available in aluminum, silver, wood, metal or Western engraved styles from $30 to $250, so you are sure to find an option that matches your taste and your budget.
Best Stirrups for Barrel Racing
Barrel racing requires specialized stirrups. Due to the unique nature of the sport, barrel racing stirrups are designed to sit in the arch of your foot to allow you to keep your toes down when you want to send your horse during your run, or get your heels flat or even down when you sit in the turn, which allows you to maintain proper balance and position throughout the run. Choosing the correct stirrups for barrel racing is absolutely necessary for the safest and best quality run.
Here are examples of stirrups best suited for other common Western disciplines.
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How to Measure Stirrups
After determining the best stirrups for your riding style, you need to make sure you purchase the right size and know how to adjust them. If your stirrups aren't the right length, your heels will be out of alignment with the rest of your body, which can affect your ability to balance and control your horse. The length of your stirrups is not the length of the actual stirrup itself, but refers to how long your fenders and stirrup leathers are, combined with your stirrup. The taller a person is, the longer their stirrups will be.
Here's how to measure stirrups:
There are two common ways to measure the length of stirrups. If you don't feel confident determining your proper length, have a friend or store employee give you a hand.
1. Stirrup to Armpit
- Stand next to the saddle and place one hand on the fender.
- With your other hand, use the stirrup bar to pull the stirrup towards your torso.
- The end of the stirrup should rest just under your arm.
2. Stirrup to Ankle
- Mount your horse and straighten your leg.
- The bottom of the stirrup should be located right at the ankle bone.
The width is equally important when figuring out how to measure stirrup size. The width of the stirrup is critical because if it's too tight, you can get tangled in the stirrups if you fall off your horse. If it is too loose, your foot can slide through the stirrup. To determine the correct width:
- Put the ball of your foot on the tread of the stirrup.
- Measure the gap on each side of your boot. Ideally, there should be half an inch on each side.
How to Put Stirrups On a Western Saddle
Now it's time to learn how to replace stirrup leathers on a Western saddle. This is easier to accomplish if the saddle is on a stand.
- Unbuckle the fender and remove the stirrup you want to replace by removing the hobble strap and Blevin from the stirrup.
- Slide the old stirrup off the stirrup leather.
- Slide the Blevin back over the stirrup leather.
- Loop the leather through the top of the new stirrup where the bar sits.
- Make sure the side with the metal posts faces the saddle.
- Push the bars through the holes at your desired stirrup length.
- Slide the Blevin down to secure the metal posts and keep them in place.
- Reattach the hobble strap.
How to Turn Stirrups On a Western Saddle
Once you have selected the proper type of stirrup and make sure it fits, there's one more step to ensuring the most comfortable ride — knowing how to turn stirrups on a Western saddle. Because new saddle fenders cause the stirrups to hang in a way that causes your toes to point inwards towards the horse, they need to be adjusted. By turning the stirrups, your toes will face forward. Everyone has their preferred way to turn stirrups, but the most common methods involve:
- Purchasing a fender turner
- Using a broomstick under the saddle to hold the stirrups in the correct position
- Creating a Texas roll
Turning the stirrups places your foot in the proper position, so mounting your horse is easier. It also alleviates knee and ankle pressure while riding.
Buyers Guide for Western Stirrups
Here are some quick tips for the best stirrups experience:
- Purchase the correct stirrups for the type of riding you'll be doing.
- Make sure the stirrups are the correct size.
- Always buy a matching set of stirrups and fenders. This guarantees that they will work together. Using a mismatched set can affect your balance.
- Turn your stirrups or use a stirrup keeper to ensure that the stirrups are at a 90-degree angle.
- Always wear a boot or shoes with a heel to prevent slippage.