Safety stirrups--tell me your stories?

Last night, my husband asked me if I thought he should buy safety stirrups for his saddle. I replied no–but it was just a gut response and when he asked me why I thought not, I didn’t really have a good answer.

After some thought, I told him that in my 45 years in the saddle, I had never encountered a situation where I would have needed them–and that I didn’t think I knew anyone who had. So while they might be a good idea, I didn’t think they were necessary.

But…do I know people who HAVE needed them? Have any of you guys gotten a foot caught, or know someone who has?

To be clear, he was referring to the kind that are hinged so the branch would open–not peacock stirrups.

I only know of one person was injured because his foot got hung up in the stirrup. He said it was his own fault because instead of going back up to the house and putting on proper boots for riding, he was lazy and rode in his heavy lug sole work boots.

So, that may be more of an indication that you need to wear proper boots for riding than it is an indication that you need safety stirrups.


The photo would not be particularly informative. The circumstances under which the accident happened, which you did not share, would be.


I’d be more interested to hear how it happened, actually.


I have seen several hung riders.
Some horse stopped, rider was freed and no worse for it.
One horse fell, rider foot was hung, horse ran off dragging big fellow until luckily, after several turns and a long ways, stirrup leather came off the saddle.
Fellow was lucky horse didn’t kick him and only had bruises and rashes.

A cowboy was bucked off, got hung on a stirrup and drug thru the brush.
By the time someone got the horse stopped, rider had stick in brain.
Surgery saved him, but he was never right after that.
He did enjoy his horseback therapy over the ensuing years.

Accidents do happen, if you spend long around horses you will see some and hear of plenty of others.
I have not seen or heard of someone saved by safety stirrups, maybe because not many use those?
I do in my English saddles, Peacock stirrups, cheap insurance.
Have used tapaderos at times in western saddles.
People are too vain to use safety stirrups or helmets, but at least more do use helmets now.


I’ve seen stirrups caught on branches, jump cups, and fence posts. I think it’s an extra layer of safety on an english saddle in case your whole stirrup leather doesn’t slide off as it should, or your stirrup leather gets caught on something.

1 Like

Yeppers. A friend of mine got hung in the stirrup after a crash over a cross country fence. Got dragged clear back to the horse trailer area. And got kicked/stepped on/stomped by the horse wearing studs.

Safety stirrups on all of her saddles now.

1 Like

I use the safety stirrups with the curve on the outside. I don’t know whether things would have been worse the one time (knock wood!) I came off my mare, or the couple of times where I chose an emergency dismount. My favorite clinician says trail riders should especially think about using safety stirrups.

1 Like

Just for clarity–I am by no means against them. I just hadn’t heard (until today) any stories about people being dragged because a foot got caught.

Thank you guys for sharing.

My dressage instructor told me that when she was younger, she got bucked off after a jump, a foot caught and she was dragged. It apparently screwed up her hip.

I think it’s a relatively cheap preventive measure; it won’t prevent all accidents or injuries, but you never know.

I have seen it. Horse had a meltdown, rider came off but foot got stuck in the stirrup briefly as the rider was falling. Rider wasn’t dragged.

Safety stirrups are expensive but they are a lot cheaper time in hospital, multiple surgeries, and never being 100% right afterwards.


This thread is giving me food for thought.

Are there any disadvantages to safety stirrups? Anyone had them spring open at the worst time like jumping, galloping, bucking, going down a mountain?

I have used my Peacock stirrups starting colts, working cattle in the canyons, horse jumping around over washouts, climbing over rocks, going thru brush and have never had one open up.
I hope one would if I fell off and was dragging.

When I was jumping we didn’t have those, so can tell how those would work there.

Endurance riders use stirrup cages, work well for them, for what I hear.
Here are some of those:

Interesting! I do trail ride and it’s worth thinking about safety equipment.

Western saddles have all kinds of tapaderos.
Mine were bullnose rawhide ones, a friend made them for us.
I didn’t use them much, they were stiff and bulky, leather ones are softer.
Here is more on those:

I don’t use them, but recently had my horse slip going up a very steep hill in tall grass. She went to her knees, I went off backwards and as I did, thought my foot was somehow caught as I could still feel it in the stirrup. Nope, turns out the leathers slide off the stirrup bar perfectly well (nice to know I suppose!). Personally I hate riding with cages or peacocks, my foot doesn’t feel stable in them for whatever reason. Haven’t tried any of the hinged varieties.

There have been a couple of long-ish threads on safety stirrups on the board. One in the eventing category a couple of years ago.

FWIW, I think the biggest downside of safety stirrups is that they tend to be more expensive than regular stirrups. Personally, I switched to safety stirrups a couple of years ago. I had a fall without safety stirrups, and my foot did come free, but it made me re-think my whole approach.

ETA: here’s the thread I was referencing:
Eventing thread on safety stirrups

1 Like

I had “safety stirrups” as a child many decades ago. Then “fashion” took over, and safety stirrups were non conforming, so I switched. I have a set of offset stirrups which I love (haven’t seen them available for a while now), and several sets of flexible ones. They are all old now. I’ve come off plenty over the decades, and never been hung up myself, though I have seen others hung up at times- not fun. So I’ve really been thinking about the safety aspect of safety stirrups these days, and in the last few years I’ve been finding a few available, the Peacocks that people don’t like and are getting rid of. I’ve tried them again, and found that the balance of these stirrups is fine, they are easy to find and pick up again if necessary, no issues with this with the Peacocks. Previously, I didn’t like the light weight and balance of other safety stirrups. So I’ve now collected a few pairs of Peacocks, and I like them fine. Paid $20 for a set last week. I’m not interested in following fashion, or paying hundreds of $$$ for stirrups, or different colours or sparkles on my stirrups and have no desire to look exactly like everyone else at the horse show with the latest thing. I just want to not die or be severely damaged before my time. They “work” for this.

1 Like

I have never really “needed” them, BUT.

The last time I fell off I had no problems with my foot getting hung up. I was using the extremely old-fashioned Prussian sided double-offset stirrups and they came off my foot on the way down. These stirrups have a really tall “bell” and plenty of room for the foot to get out of the stirrup.

But it got me thinking. I had used Peacock stirrups on and off through the decades and each time I ended up hating them, the footbed would start sagging down to the outside completely destroying my security in the saddle (I am almost 70 and have MS, I just could not deal with this.)

I researched and got the Tech Venice Slope stirrups. Expensive but I have not had a moment of discomfort or getting scared while riding in them. My feet stay where I put them in the stirrup, they do not add much weight to the saddle, and I know when I fall off again I will not have to depend on LUCK like I did the last time I fell off a horse. These stirrups have helped make my lower legs much more stable too, which the horses appreciate!

Pretty much everyone at our hunt uses the s-curved safety stirrup --I have seen one person personally come off and hang up in a non-safety stirrup. Her horse stood quietly until she was freed --could have been pretty dreadful had it spooked. I’ve fallen maybe 4 times in the last few years (over fences) --every time my feet came free --I use the S curved ones.