Are the "fancy" stirrups really worth it?

I have only ever used the plain old fillis irons. Cheap, no frills. It has never really been a problem for me (not that I’ve got anything to compare it to), and I’ve never had a lot of issues keeping my stirrups. Recently, however, I have found myself having to readjust my stirrups constantly as my feet seem to just be slipping out of them. I use one of my trainer’s saddles, so it’s probably just a particularly slick pair of stirrups, but in any case I’ve been thinking about just getting my own pair of leathers and irons that I can just slip onto her saddle when I ride.

I started looking at stirrups and frankly, I am just overwhelmed. Are the $350 stirrups really that much better than the cheap fillis ones? I don’t really have a problem laying down cash for something that’s actually a significant quality of life improvement, but I’m always wary of seemingly overpriced and trendy horse equipment as the fads just change by the day and I have neither the interest, nor the funds to keep up with the Joneses, as it were.

If you DO love your expensive irons, which ones did you get? and what differences did you notice?


Yes. Both my mom and I noticed a HUGE difference in comfort with the expensive stirrups. She loves the Royal Rider T3s (with the slight twist), and I have the MDC “S” Classics. For MDC’s, try emailing Martin Cohen to ask about them - he has offered me a better price than list in the past.


You are slipping your feet out of the stirrups because you are not keeping your heel down.

Also the rubber might need replacing.

Or take the rubber out and buy a pair of cages. You have changed the normal stirrups into safety stirrups and it comes with its own tread.

Not expensive, but not a plain fillis: I ride in wide tread composite stirrups. $50 at Dover. I have an old soft tissue injury in my ankle and the tread and material are the difference between riding for 20 minutes and limping the next two days, or riding my horse and living my life. Every time I ride in a plain fillis iron now I regret it!


Obsessed with my FreeJump Soft Up, they are so secure and I’ve only lost a stirrup a couple of times in the 2+ years I’ve had them (and bc they are forward-facing, it’s really easy to get them back). I bought the kiddie size (the Lite) bc they were much cheaper, I have a 7.5 foot and wouldn’t recommend them for any larger - if I had it to do over, I think I would get the adult ones. Also, I feel safer with these than a traditional stirrup because the arm bends to let your foot come out in a fall. They are awesome. Riding Warehouse always has coupon codes floating around!


I also have the free jump softup classics and love them! My whole barn has free jumps and everyone loves theirs.

I had a bad fall & these not only feelsecure, they actually are. I am confident that if I fall, I won’t have to worry about my foot catching. I also landed on my knee a bit in the fall, and these stirrups have helped a lot with knee pain! And I’m young! LOL.


I’m not sure of many things in my life, but I’m certain it’s not because I don’t keep my heels down. I’ve actually noticed it’s worse when I’m focusing on keeping my heels down, and can feel the stirrup slowly sliding from the ball of my foot to the toe, which is why I’m fairly certain it’s just dried out/slick rubber (I live in the desert, so it checks out).


Oooh, love the knee pain thing. I’m also young, but tore my ACL in high school (amongst other injuries). Anything that can take the edge off would be wonderful :slight_smile:

Seems like there’s overwhelming support for the FreeJumps here. Are they OK in the hunter ring? I rarely show, and even then it’s usually just local stuff. But of all the “techy” stirrups out there, the FreeJumps definitely are the most…er, modern looking. haha

I have the Tech Athena Jumper Stirrups. Wide tread “cheese grater” silver metal footbed and black aluminum for the sides of the stirrup. I love them. They’re so secure, I rarely lose my stirrups anymore. I struggled with ankle pain in regular stirrups and these alleviate it for the most part.

I used the wide tread Composite stirrups for years. They’re a wonderful budget friendly option. My only complaint about those is that they’re so lightweight that it’s difficult to get your stirrups back if you lose them. I got caught out in a flat class when we had to drop our irons and then were asked to pick them back up at the canter. The composite stirrups were basically flapping around in the breeze and I couldn’t get them back at the canter.

I’ve never had any trouble in the local hunters with any of these stirrups. To be legal in the rated equitation, you’d need a silver iron per USEF rules, but I think that’s the only caveat unless specifically stated for a class?


Honestly not sure - check with your trainer? My former (hunter) trainer hated them, I told her I would change them out with regular irons for shows, but we never showed after I bought them. I think they’d be definitely fine for schooling shows, not sure about anything rated.

Actually, you can ride in equitation in any kind of stirrups.
EQ105 6. When showing in the Hunter Jumping Seat Equitation section it is recommended that riders use traditional stainless steel stirrup irons that promote proper position of the foot in the iron as well as a correct leg position. It is further recommended that riders use stirrup irons that allow a clear and unobstructed view of the position of the foot in the stirrup. **Judges may not eliminate a rider for using a particular style of stirrup iron.

That said, I have Wildkart Jins that you would have to pry from my cold dead hands and I was an absolute stirrup traditionalist until I rode in them. They were life changing for me.
I am a judge and have shown hunters since the 70’s for context.


From reading threads here on COTH I have learned that stirrups are one of those things that one person loves and the next person hates.

I personally love the HS jointed stirrups. My knees and hips get very grumpy if I use a standard fillis stirrups.

I recommend that you try various stirrups before you spend the money buying them so you can find what works and does not work for you.


Thank you for clarifying! I thought at one point there was a rule against non-traditional irons in the Eq.

I got the classics because they’re a little more traditional looking than the pros. They are definitely allowed in the hunters (A shows), but if you want to show in equitation you either need to switch to traditional stirrups or just buy the Free Jumps with the silver edge.

6.When showing in the Hunter/Jumping Seat Equitation section it is recommended that riders use traditional stainless steel stirrup irons that promote proper position of the foot in the iron as well as a correct leg position. It is further recommended that riders use stirrup irons that allow judges a clear and unobstructed view of the position of the foot in the stirrup. Judges may not eliminate a rider for using a particular style of stirrup iron. (Exception: see EQ101.4)

I guess I stand corrected! Every big eq kid I’ve seen switches to traditional stirrups for the eq. I suppose if you have a great foot position and want it to be judged correctly, I’d switch. Like I said, you can just purchase the silver free jumps and not worry.

I love my FreeJump Soft’Up Pros!

In the 3 years I’ve had them I don’t think I’ve ever lost them (apart from when I’ve been completely thrown from the horse that is :wink:). The wide tred is super grippy and secure without feeling abrasive (my personal gripe with cheesgrater stirrups - I always feel like I’m going to cut myself up on them in some way, even if they’re no more likely to do so than the freejumps). They’re also a nice weight so they don’t bounce/move very much, and, along with the way they hang, they are very easy to pick up if you drop your feet out for some no stirrup work or stretching.

I bought them because of knee pain that was severe enough to stop me from sleeping. When I use them I have basically no knee pain; when I hop on someone else’s horse with regular Fillis irons (even for a very quick ride) I have moderate knee pain for a day or so.

I love that I can easily swap them out between my two horses’ saddles - much easier than trying to move regular stirrups back and forth and much cheaper than buying two pairs! I bought them second-hand after putting an ISO in the local classifieds, so I paid about 1/2 of what they cost new.

If you’re in Canada, you’ll need the silver branches for showing in equitation classes, and possibly the hunter classes too. Of course, if you buy second hand, you can always grab some silver spray paint to make them the colour you want.

I still have a couple of pairs of Fillis irons, in case of emergency/forgetfulness, but if I ever need to replace my current stirrups you can bet I’m picking up another pair of FreeJumps!

MDC sport classics here and I fought buying them, but worth every penny to me.


I sprang for the Ophena stirrups and I love them. My trainer hates them :rofl: :rofl: :rofl:. They have no outside branch and a magnetic footbed like On-Tytes but you use a magnetic insole in your boot (which means you can use them in any boot with no resoling or buying certain ones). They have saved my backside on a couple occasions! I have a decent lower leg but I also work in a job where getting knocked unconscious means 6 months off of work (minimum), so I’m happy to use them. They are fabulous.

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Honestly I use expensive stirrups for ONE reason - I like to have a lot of grip on my stirrups but cheese grater pads ruin my boots. I don’t have any chronic knee or ankle pain (yet) so that’s not a concern and while I do like a wide tread I don’t prefer it so much I would spend hundreds of dollars for that reason alone. But there’s no stirrup pad for regular irons that I like so $$ stirrups it is.

I’ve been wondering about the “fancy” stirrups for a few years, since the time I was riding with a new trainer who asked how I even rode in my classic fillis stirrups :roll_eyes: I literally cannot remember the last time I lost a stirrup and have no pain - it seems to me like if ain’t broke, don’t fix it just to fit in?

THAT said, I’ve recently been paying more attention to how my riding changes from horse to horse, and I’ve been thinking about how just springy my big horse is, which results in me absorbing the springing (?) constantly. I tried a new saddle and on my less spring-y horse, it felt and looked good. On the bouncy horse, I’m watching a video and realize every joint in my body is absorbing the bounce. So would a different kind of stirrups would actually help stabilize my leg on him?