Safety stirrups--tell me your stories?

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:

1 Like

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.

This is interesting to hear, as his question was directly related to the fact that he is new to the hunt field (this will be his second season). Our hunt is quite conservative in tack and attire–I had to ask permission to hunt in jointed stirrups the year after I broke my leg. They said yes of course and I doubt very much that they would refuse safety stirrups, but I would think he would be expected to ask for permission if he got them.

Did folks in yours just start using them, or did the masters offer the opportunity?

1 Like

I have two sets of those, that came with some or another used saddle, just sitting on the shelf.
I always wondered how well those may work, just didn’t try them.

One reason Peacock style works for me may be because I am very small and light, so not apt to put that much weight on them enough to bend them, as some have reported?

I had a bad experience with peacock stirrups that put me off them.

I was dismounting (a planned dismount!), and, as I was lowering myself, the “lip” of the stirrup (or the blunt hook where the band loops over), caught on a fold in my breeches and ripped a 2- inch tear. I didn’t really care about the breeches so much, but I was concerned that it could pose a risk.


Right, few things are risk free, but for some maybe that bit of risk better than possibly get hung up on the stirrup and dragged?

Yes, well per my post above, I bought other safety stirrups instead (Shield R’up stirrups by Samshield). I wouldn’t go back to regular stirrups.

1 Like

Two years ago, my horse fell. Among my injuries was a fractured knee. It was caused by torsion, not impact, and I believe it happened because my foot did not come out of the stirrup easily enough. Might not be true, but I decided to use safety stirrups going forward. I ride in SafeStyle or Acavallo Arena. On balance, I prefer the Safestyle, but they are both good choices. Having spent 2 months in a wheelchair with a broken left ankle and a fractured right knee, I would have happily spent the money on safety stirrups if it would have prevented the knee injury.

1 Like

I wonder if those cage stirrups for English saddles would not after all be a better mousetrap?

Something I’ve noticed about the new “fancy” saddles I’ve ridden in lately: not only do the stirrup bars no longer offer the option of shutting them, (Does anyone actually shut their stirrup bars? In 40 years of riding I’ve never met one person who does.) they also seem to be set less deeply into the saddle & at a more open angle. To the point that we all randomly lost a leather off a demo Voltaire dressage saddle the first few times we rode in it.

Most saddles aren’t like that, though. So I’ll be looking into safety stirrups for the hunter saddle we have after reading thisml.

I broke my ankle a few years ago when I fell off foxhunting and my foot got caught (at least I assume, I actually have no idea how the ankle broke but it was a spiral fracture and I landed on very, very soft ground so I don’t think it could have been anything other than getting stuck in the stirrup).

I now have the type that hinge open (the Safe Riding S1) and I have had them come open twice in around 5 years of using them, both times because my foot was loose in the stirrup and banged them with enough impact to open them - but I wasn’t actually coming off/losing a stirrup.

I can’t remember the exact circumstances, the more recent one was on a pretty fresh horse that was bucking and the previous one might have been while jumping? I just came back down to a walk and popped them back shut. I am pretty sticky in the saddle so it was not a big deal, same level of hassle/danger as losing a stirrup normally, and definitely preferable to getting stuck.

@ecileh --well, cough, I started using safety stirrups when I WAS MFH. That was quite a few years ago --and one club ago --since joined Battle Creek Hunt where safety outweighs tradition --we do some pretty rough riding on some challenging country. While I choose to wear my safety vest under my hunt coat and vest (over my shirt) --two members wear theirs over their coats. One is the inflatable kind --so really no choice there --the other is a hard-shell like mine --but the vest is black so really not too noticeable. Personally, I think the rider in the red coat, should wear a red inflatable vest . . .but no one asked my opinion.

Various adaptations have been acceptable —riders can/do wear paddock boots with black leather gaiters rather than hunt boots --I still have the hunt boots, no zipper, patent leather tops --hoping I don’t have to replace them ever --so I wear Mountain Horse Ice Riders (as does everyone else since we hunt all winter long in Michigan). When it is horribly cold, any black coat is allowed even if not a hunt coat.

The important thing to our hunt is the safety and enjoyment of the membership --without members, we have no hunt!


Agreed! The MFHs have been very accommodating to me with regards to the broken leg (riding accident) and the jointed stirrups and the fact that the only boots that fit me while my hardware was in were my brown (polo!) boots. They want us to be safe and happy–and in the field!

Some of our members wear vests, but only under jackets, per MFH. And the air vests are not allowed because of the noise they make when deploying. 1/2 chaps are allowed, but you have to ask and they really want them only to be worn until the proper boots are purchased.

We only hunt from July to November, so winter parkas are not usually necessary, though we do have black club raincoats.