Safety stirrups--tell me your stories?

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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

I have only had this happen once, when the horse was having a meltdown tantrum and my foot moved enough to open the stirrup. I think that was with Techs. Both Tech (which open from the top) and Acavallo Arena (which open from the bottom) automatically reclose. You need a little pressure to open them so if you simply bump the edge of the stirrup it won’t open.

Do you find these any harder to keep on your foot than regular irons? I’ve been thinking about getting a pair but I fuss with my regular irons, so wondering if it will be a problem.

Good topic, OP. I’ve twice fallen off, not felt anything going awry with my left foot, not hung up. Then obviously had a foot injury afterwards. Last year this happened and my foot was so swollen I had to wear larger shoes. Even now some of my normal sized shoes don’t fit. So I’ve been thinking about getting safety stirrups since then and I feel the S sided ones are most likely to prevent whatever has happened to me in these falls.

I’ve been meaning to buy a pair (I just really haven’t been riding) maybe my 2nd date with my husband I was riding (now retired) horse, he reared/flipped up/over. I was lucky that I dropped my feet out of the stirrups before he really went up.

Anyways, husband knew a kid that got hung up riding and didn’t make it. More people ride in tapaderos around here now. Helmets? Not so much. I have people slow down/stop/stare when I ride in the front feild. I’m going to assume it’s the helmet/English set up

I’ve come off more times than I’d like to admit. A combination of a spooky horse and a lousy seat. Now that my riding has improved I can stick with him.

A couple of decades ago I used the stirrups with the curve on the outside and they worked they way they were supposed to. Sprengers were the only 4-way jointed stirrups so I bought a pair to help with knee and hip pain. They worked great. Then a study found they were the best safety stirrup even though they weren’t sold for that. 2-ways came out but weren’t as good. I liked the Sprengers and still ride in them. They are expensive but worth it.

Peacock stirrups were used for kids in lesson programs at my last barn. I don’t know how you can tell whether you have a pair made for adults. I have read that the opening will stretch over time when used by adults. I saw a peacock stirrup get caught on something when the adult rider was leaving the mounting platform. The opening stretched so much it was useless.

I have acavallo safety stirrups and love them. I plan on switching all my stirrups to them.
There was an incident that happened many years ago with the peacock style stirrup where a young boy got caught in the stirrup lip and required surgery. IIRC there was a lawsuit.

I’m looking for new safety stirrups. Something lighter weight than a traditional stirrup, with some cushioning. I have a wider foot, but very small feet. It’s hard for me to find and then keep the sweet spot of where the iron belongs on my foot because it’s not a very long area. The ball of my foot is really small- too far forward and it’s near my toes, and if it gets twisted or tilts back at all, it ends up feeling like it’s in the middle of my foot. I wonder if I might do better with a stirrup with a 90 degree attachment? Or the stability leathers? I’ve been looking at the Safestyle and the Acavello Safety stirrups.

I’ve only seen two people dragged - both were kids and both were using peacock stirrups. Both ended up with only minor injuries, thank goodness.

In both cases, the kids were wearing lace-up paddock boots and the laces caught on the hook on the bottom of the stirrup.

Most of the safety stirrups I’ve seen have part of the bottom of the stirrup protruding upward and that’s a major risk for catching laces. If the rider’s boots don’t have laces, it’s probably relatively safe but I wouldn’t wear laces or anything that might catch with that style of stirrup.


Yes, there was a trail rider here a couple years ago who got dragged and almost lost her life. I don’t remember the details, but she had some pretty terrible injuries getting dragged through rocks and sagebrush.

I don’t know if I was saved by them, but I’ve been using SafeStyle stirrups for years now including a time when I got bucked off rather spectacularly. They are much better with the addition of the “sealing rubbers” that they have now, so I don’t lose them any more than with a regular stirrup. I have them on my young horse’s saddle. The nice thing about the rubber piece is that it won’t turn into a pointy piece of metal that could stab or catch on something in an accident as I’ve read can be a problem with some of the safety stirrups that have a metal branch that releases outward.

I got hung up once, on my old horse. Was riding out in the snow in a pasture. He went right, I stayed left. Regular fillis irons.

Thank god that Saint Niko didn’t drag me. I had to figure out how to unstick myself all alone out there. I didn’t know about the roll over trick at the time. I ended up hauling myself up using the reins and his mouth, and apologizing profusely to him after.

The cause was a thicker winter riding boot in 4.25" stirrup beds.

I don’t have saefty stirrups now, but I do now ride in a 5" bed no matter what. I’ve never been hung up again, but I would like safety stirrups. I just can’t get over the price, though.