Different Horse Stirrups (A Complete Guide)

horse stirrups

Stepping into your saddle, you have probably never considered that stirrups were not originally part of the saddle design. 

In fact, the first horse stirrups didn’t even resemble the metal wishbone shape iron stirrup that has become so integral to horse riding today. 

The first stirrup wasn’t iron at all. The original stirrup was a leather loop attached to the girth, which was more for a toe grip than to provide stability. 

Riders need stirrups to stop their feet from slipping and having a nasty fall. These leather loops first appeared in India during the 2nd century BC. 

Later, as metalwork improved, and as horses began featuring more prominently during the war, iron stirrups that could carry weight and support armed riders with a sturdy footplate gained popularity. 

Stirrups have come a long way since then. With modern equitation, stirrups are essential for correct rider form. With correctly fitted stirrups and proper foot position, pressure is taken off the rider’s hips, knees, and back. 

The materials that stirrups are made of have also changed with new technology. 

Best Horse Stirrups By Category (Our Top Picks)

Best Economy General Purpose Stirrups: ZXAZX 1 Pair Lightweight Safety Irons Stirrups

[amazon box=”B08HWM8Z6C”]

The [amazon link=”B08HWM8Z6C” title=”ZXAZX 1 Pair Lightweight Safety Irons Stirrups”] offer value for money as these are good for general riding. 

With these lightweight irons, you can do some equitation, jumping, and hacking. While these aren’t Western stirrups, they are suitable for trail riding too.


  • Non-slip tread, rust-proof, and ideal for stability
  • Ideal for classic style riding
  • Made from nickel-plated iron with rubber treads


  • Only one size stirrup available
  • Rider’s foot can get caught 
  • Not suited as safety stirrups
  • Grip can be insufficient for high-intensity riding

Most Suitable Child Safety Stirrups: PRORIDER 4-1/2″ Wide English Aluminum Endurance Safety Cage Saddle Stirrups

[amazon box=”B0191XPBLE”]

Best to keep young riders safe is [amazon link=”B0191XPBLE” title=”PRORIDER 4-1/2″ Wide English Aluminum Endurance Safety Cage Saddle Stirrups”].

These stirrups aren’t only effective as safety stirrups, but they are also excellent at aiding correct leg position and can be used for barrel racing. 

Adding elasticated grips can aid with transitioning to Western stirrups, while extra grip with an inch wider footplate is ideal. 

These are the best stirrups to ride in complete safety without the fear of the rider’s foot getting caught in a stirrup during a fall.

The plastic cage can add extra weight. The outside branch is slightly longer than inside, which can cause rider instability.


  • Stops rider’s foot getting caught
  • Aids in natural leg position 
  • Positions the rider’s foot better
  • Naturally lowers the heel
  • Ideal for trail riding, use as Western stirrups, and safety stirrups


  • The width may not suit all riders
  • The tread pads are somewhat thin

Best Jumping Stirrups And Best Foot Relief Stirrups: Herm Sprenger Bow Balance Stirrups

[amazon box=”B001FB3IIY”]

The [amazon link=”B001FB3IIY” title=”Herm Sprenger Bow Balance Stirrups”] are ideal for those with foot pain due to inflexible stirrups. The stirrup irons are twisted with the outside branch spiraling away from the small toe. 

With one branch of the stirrup iron being twisted, riders have reported greater support of their joints. The natural flex of these stirrups reduce the slipping of riders’ feet from the tread and footplate. 

Sprenger offers added safety as riders are less likely to suffer a twisted ankle or their feet getting caught—can be used by novice riders as these stirrups easily release the foot. 

The best stirrups for saddle and seat work, the correct alignment is a connected sign that the rider is in balance.

Your Sprenger can become damaged when mounting from the ground. Dismounting the horse requires the rider to remove both feet from the stirrups as dismounting Western style will result in a fall.


  • Twisted wishbone design gives greater rider stability
  • Ankles are given natural relief
  • Improved and extra width grip as riders can focus on turning their ankles in without feet slipping out
  • The rubber side guards helps reduce friction on an expensive riding boot


  • Price, it is quite an expensive set of safety stirrups
  • Not suitable for heavier weight riders
  • Best suited to English or jumping saddles

Best Stirrups For Western Riding: CHALLENGER Horse Saddle Western Rawhide Leather Covered Roper Stirrups

[amazon box=”B07TBBR1TJ”]

The [amazon link=”B07TBBR1TJ” title=”CHALLENGER Horse Saddle Western Rawhide Leather Covered Roper Stirrups”] are ideal Western stirrups. When looking for quality Western stirrups, you should consider whether you want something for barrel racing, trail riding, or roping. 

Essential to the fit and quality of Western stirrups are the leathers the stirrups are attached to the saddle with. 

Next, you should consider the size of your foot and boot and whether these will fit into Western stirrups or if a wider traditional stirrup may be better suited. 

Your boot should fit comfortably inside the stirrup cradle, and these should hang comfortably with a straightened leg below the knees. 

Design is a visual matter. The real factor that sends you to checkout is whether these stirrups offer safety, an effective shape for comfort, and best foot position. 


  • Quality Western stirrups
  • Made from high-quality leather
  • Tread with gel pads prevents foot slipping from stirrup
  • Rope wrapped stirrups for lighter weight
  • Deep stirrup for added foot comfort and support knees


  • Some riders reported the stirrups as being too narrow for their feet
  • Specific style Western stirrups, which may not matter except for personal choice
  • Rawhide leather can be harder to care for and not as resistant to water

Best Stirrups For Lightweight Work: Compositi Adult Premium Profile Horse Riding Stirrups

[amazon box=”B005HNVH5M”]

If you are looking for the best stirrups that aren’t heavy to carry, then these plastic stirrups by [amazon link=”B005HNVH5M” title=”Compositi Adult Premium Profile Horse Riding Stirrups”] are a winner. 

These stirrups are ideal for everyday riding or happy hacking. 

Stirrup secures foot and rider’s leg in the classical position with lighter weight stirrups that are water and rust-proof. Compositi fits most saddle types.


  • Available in two sizes, making these ideal for adults and children
  • Non-slip rubber stirrup treads
  • Best stirrups for most kinds of horse riding, including jumping


  • Foot can get caught if stirrup twists on saddle
  • Harder to find stirrup if rider loses footing, a safety concern
  • Stirrup grip could have been an inch wider for increased safety

Best Stirrups For Safety: JT International Stainless Steel Peacock Irons Pair

[amazon box=”B003M6XNIU”]

The [amazon link=”B003M6XNIU” title=”JT International Stainless Steel Peacock Irons Pair”] are great safety stirrups to consider for the beginner or child rider. 

The peacock rubbers are mounted on one branch of the stirrups and release quickly, ensuring the rider’s foot doesn’t get caught during a fall. These are ideal for a secure ride. 

Choose the correct size to ensure these fit the rider’s foot correctly.

These are the best stirrups for trail riding and to secure a good leg position. Suitable for barrel racing and Western riding too. 

Each stirrup comes with rubber bands for peacock safety features, but leather peacock straps are also available.

Fits any standard stirrup leathers and can fit all saddles. The tread can be replaced when worn.


  • Safety stirrups can be used on any type of horses and different disciplines of riding
  • Ideal for any weight rider
  • Non-slip footplate with rubber treads
  • Peacock rubbers break away to ensure no slipping of rider’s feet through the stirrup irons with an easy release mechanism
  • Stirrup prevents twisting of ankles
  • Best stirrups for riding schools


  • Can cause a fall if rider’s foot slips to the side and releases peacock rubbers
  • Shape of stirrups may not fit all size and style riding boots
  • Peacock stirrups are heavy

Stirrups Buyer’s Guide

Choosing the right stirrups for your own unique riding needs is essential for a safe and secure ride, whether you are doing Western roping, barrel racing, classic style, or trail riding. 

Just like one horse isn’t like the other, saddles aren’t the same either, and no two stirrups are the same. 

Getting stirrups that fit your foot correctly can make the difference between a great ride or a sour purchase. So before you sink into the online shopping trap and click “checkout,” first consider what to look for in a stirrup with this buyer’s guide.

stirrups guide

Type of Riding 

If you are schooling for your next classical riding test, you would not opt for a set of Western stirrups, would you? 

For those who are into trail riding or stock work, lightweight stirrup irons may be an appropriate choice. Children may require quick-release stirrups or peacock stirrups as part of their riding style’s safety features.

Technical Requirements

The type of riding you do will also determine how your leg should be positioned on the horse. Your stirrups will offer an extra grip with good tread, safety features, and stirrup cages for endurance. 

If you are prone to suffering from painful hips, knees, and ankles, you may prefer stirrups that flex. These allow you to relax into your joints. 

Even the size stirrups chosen can be a challenge as the size of your foot can greatly influence your leg position and comfort level. Safety stirrups may be a requirement for your sport, but they may not be the most comfortable for your weekend horse riding. 


Choosing stirrups made from the right materials is the best and can really save you money and disappointment in the long run. By selecting a quality stirrup with the best leather and high-quality rust-proof iron, you ensure longevity. 

Matching your stirrup irons with quality stirrup leather will also help when you shop for value.

Well-balanced stirrups can determine how well the horse performs and the quality of horse riding. The leather used should also be able to flex and better aid the rider’s hips in rocking forward without losing stability.

Cost vs Value

The quality justifies the cost of purchasing a heavy-weight product on your account. Checkout will include prices subject to the cost of items shipping to your locale in the world. 

Final Thoughts

Choosing the best stirrups for online purchase can be a challenge as you can’t physically try them out. 

Be sure to consider what each type of stirrup can and will do to your ankles and hips. Are the stirrups suitable for your boot type and riding style? 

When a stirrup is made with a leather component, ensure the leather is of the highest quality and suits your saddle type too. Opt for a stirrup that offers safety and functionality. 

We love the [amazon link=”B001FB3IIY” title=”Herm Sprenger Bow Balance Stirrups”], and the [amazon link=”B07TBBR1TJ” title=”CHALLENGER Horse Saddle Western Rawhide Leather Covered Roper Stirrups”] for the best Western Stirrups. 

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