[Safety stirrups thread] Stirrup breakaway safety: Alternatives to Barnes Buckles or Swiss Clips?

Interesting! About $360 USD at current exchange rates for the silver ones, which is way more than I’d prefer, but I love that the open branch is on the outside for safety. Very non-traditional — can’t see hunterworld ever accepting this — but can’t see any way to get a twist fracture and that makes me happy.

I think the magnetic soles might be a problem for other competitions, too, but for schooling it would rock.

My Acavallo Arena AluPro safety stirrups review: I don’t like them.

I’m sad to say that. I was really hoping I’d love them.

There are two things about them that bug me:

(1) I am spoiled by the twist at the top of the MDC “S” Flexes that make the stirrup hang about 30-45 degrees off of parallel to the horse’s side. The Acavallos keep trying to creep their way back to parallel and I keep having to adjust them. (Granted, since I am just getting back into the saddle after nearly 6-7 weeks off, my legs & feet don’t have the steadiness that they used to and I am riding in a longer stirrup until I regain all my dorsiflexion.)

(2) They are too light for my taste. They are not superlight, but I guess I just prefer a nice, heavy stirrup that hangs where it needs to be. YMMV — those who prefer lighter stirrups might love them.

I do love how easy it is to open the safety branch, and that the branch opens from the bottom, right where your sole needs to escape. They have a lot going for them, for sure. They just aren’t right for me.

I’m waiting on the French Rid’Ups, which should arrive in a week or so. If those aren’t my thang either, I’ll probably suck it up and try to get the Samshields from a European tack shop. (Or locate another pair of Barnes Buckles or Swiss Clips, fingers crossed, and return to my MDCs.)

Psst, Rid’Up stirrups info!

First impression: I like them. A lot.

I bought them from the Canadian Equine WW store (thanks again, @vineyridge!) and they arrived in CO within 9 days of the order. I got the slowest trackable shipping, and it came four days earlier than predicted by Canadian Post, though once it entered the US it wasn’t trackable through Canadian Post until it had been delivered to my PO.

I played around with the release mechanism and it’s interesting. I wish I had a video to show you, but the stirrups are now on my dressage saddle at the barn. The release mechanism is a curved rail, and if the stirrup tilts backward enough, the stirrup slides right out, releasing it from the leather (or Webber, in my case — yes, they do fit, with a little tugging). A forward tilt would not release the stirrup, BTW — there’s a built-in stop in that direction. I’d kinda rather have something that would release from any direction, but I’m going to ponder the physics of that a bit more later.

I loved that the Rid’Ups are built to sit at a 90-degree angle to the leathers. They stayed exactly where I put them as I rode, even though they are lighter than my MDCs. I didn’t love the Acavallo Arena AluPros in part because they felt too light and too prone to move around, so the stay-ability of the Rid-Ups is important to me. Today I only raised a foot just once in half an hour to change where one of the Rid’Ups sat, which is pretty darned great for me. With the Acavallos, I had to stop and do a lot of adjusting by hand to get them to sit where I wanted, but needed to do none of that with the Rid’Ups.

You’ll probably have to shorten your stirrups by a couple of full holes or so. (3 on my Webbers.) The Rid’Ups are tall, once you take into consideration the release mechanism.

I’m not jumping yet after my ankle fracture, so I’ll have to report back in a couple of weeks on how they do with my jumping saddle, with heels truly down, and how shock-absorbing they are.

So far, though, I’m giving the Rid’Ups an enthusiastic thumbs-up.


Thanks for doing all the testing on these! I did not order the Rid’Ups because of the way they release. I was concerned that if I fell forwards, they would not release. Still mulling the Acavellos or even the freejumps.

I agree, I’d feel safest with something that would release regardless of which way I fall.

The Samshields would do that, but I wonder if they’d feel too light / too much like the Acavallos for me.

I’m wary of the SafeStyles because the open branch is on the inside, and very interested in the Ophenas. I wish the Ophenas were available in the US! I’m going to cross my fingers that they will be, eventually.

And I’m too worried about the FreeJumps, after realizing that the foot would have to rise to the top of the stirrup before having any chance of escaping. A twist fracture seems too likely for me, and been there, done that.

I sure wish there were controlled safety studies of these stirrups. :frowning:

Well if you are looking to rehome the Acavallo’s, shoot me a PM. I think that the free jumps let go no matter where you push against the side as the side is rubber.

I just used the contact form for Ophena to ask if they plan to ship to the US in the future. The more people from the US or Canada who ask them, the more likely they’d be confident there’s a market in North America, yes? :slight_smile: So if you’re interested, please go here to make a request to come to the N. American market: https://ophena.com/contact/

The more I think about the Ophenas, the more they seem an ideal solution for safety + security during show jumping and XC. (I’m guessing the magnetics would make them illegal for dressage and hunters, but does anyone know of a rule for SJ & XC?)

@IFG, unfortunately the bottom half of the FreeJump branch is NOT rubber, it’s super solid inside. You can’t start to bend the branch at all until about halfway up it, and it’s still fairly stiff until close to the top. I suspected it from looking at videos, but ordered them anyway, and then realized I was too worried about the solidity next to my foot and decided to return them without even riding in them. Seemed like a quick twist fracture in the making.

I ordered the Acavallos through a seller on Amazon and will likely be returning through there, but if not I’ll PM you. :slight_smile:

Have you thought about emailing the Rid-Ups manufacturer/designer to ask about how their stirrup would react in a forward fall? You might mention eventing XC and the ever present risk of falls over XC fences.

The FEI bans any stirrups that actively work to keep the foot in the stirrup. They have banned magnetic stirrups in the past, IIRC.

For Cross Country, any device which could restrict the does not allow an immediate and unrestricted smooth separation of the Athlete’s boot from the stirrup in case of a fall is forbidden.
539.3.2 2019 Eventing Rules

That’s a good suggestion, @vineyridge. I’m curious if they’ve done the studies.

That’s too bad about the FEI rules. I wonder whether this is a case where the spirit of the law (athlete safety) ends up being harmed by the letter of the law as currently written. But that’s far above my pay grade.

I found some more safety stirrup options.

I still like the Rid’Ups, and I’ve just sent them the question about what would happen in a forward fall. Since I have two saddles to outfit, lately I’m mulling over trying either the Samshield Shield’Rups or the Equiline S1 or S2s. My wallet is screaming at me.

The Equilines are chunky-looking and not at all suitable for hunters, but the outer branch can rotate in nearly any direction to free your foot in any kind of fall. They are, however, hella expensive. The cheapest I’ve found for the S1s is about $400 USD from Equizone or $433 direct from Equiline with more color combo choices. :eek: The S2s will be likely be $70+ USD more than that, and don’t seem to be available in the US yet unless you buy them direct from Equiline.

I also found another stirrup, the Safe-On by Flex-On, that I hadn’t seen before. Videos:

  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JXOr5oJUeJY
  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iKWaNvXaXoA
  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M3ChKAZFOMY
They're ~$263 for black/black (or gray or red): https://www.amirashop.co.uk/acatalog/Flex-on-Safe-On-Safety-Stirrups-AE660510.html#SID=1338. You can find them with a few other color choices for more $ elsewhere.

I’m not sure the Safe-Ons would work for me— it doesn’t look like the eye hole is tilted and I’m guessing they’re lighter than I’d prefer. But other folks might love them.

Also, has anyone tried out the STS irons? They don’t seem to have any shock absorption, but they’re an interesting design and a decent price: https://www.victorycanter.com/STS-Stirrup-Irons.html and https://stsirons.com/english/.

Meanwhile, I’m still waiting for the elusive Barnes Buckles to show up via international post. fingers crossed

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Update: I broke down and bought the Samshields to try. They are 509g / 1.1 lb each in weight (the Acavallo Arenas are 300g / 0.67 lb ea), so I’m hoping the Samshields will feel balanced and not too light for my taste. I expect it will take at least a week, maybe two, to get them. By then I should be jumping and able to give them a full test.

I like that they look more traditional, and shouldn’t cause anyone to blink if I get a wild hair to try a hunter class. There are two different treads available (with and without spikes), but I’m told only one kind comes in the box. Not sure how to get hold of the other, since the stirrups themselves are so tough to find. The Samshield website mentions both kinds of tread but gives no options for purchase. Theoretically the Samshields should meet all the criteria from my original post, but we shall see. Total cost with international shipping was about $340.

It also turns out that I have enough rewards points available to cover more than half of the ridiculous Equiline S1 price, so it is sooooooper tempting to buy and compare the two. devil on shoulder

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P.S. If anyone wants the hard-to-find Inox Kwik-Outs (I’m concerned about the potential impalement factor, but a lot of people swear by these), I ran across them for £99 (about $125 USD as of today’s exchange rate) + S/H: https://www.mitchellmoorequestrian.c…safety-bracket

I just came across the Ophena page in a google search for safety stirrups. Boy would I love to try them! Did you ever get a response from them about their future availability in the U.S.?

I noted that they won’t even be shipping to Europe again until August (they’re apparently sold out until then).

According to the virtual “chat” I just had with “Simon” at Ophena, they are trying to iron out legal issues with selling the stirrups in the U.S. (has the current administration imposed sanctions on Sweden? Are there tariffs on fancy stirrups? :slight_smile: ). They hope to be able to sell them to U.S. customers within “a few weeks” although he hastened to add that he couldn’t promise.

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I used Kwik-Outs for years and liked everything but the potential impalement factor. They were heavy, the mechanism was simple and logical to trigger and I would have kept using them but the gripper pads literally fell off and they started rusting. If the mechanism could have sprung them back into place I would have found a second pair.

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My local tack store had the free jump stirrups available for a week trial. First ride I could tell an amazing difference in the stability of my leg and my foot didn’t feel nearly as bad as it does in my royal riders. So much so that I made the plunge and purchased a pair.

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@Posting Trot, I never got a reply to my email to Ophena — glad you were able to reach them by chat! I’d love to try them out and I hope they can start selling in the States. I wish the competition rules would be changed, though. I don’t love the thought of potentially changing stirrups for competitions. I like to have the “feel” of everything be the same on Game Day 'cause there’s usually enough new stuff to deal with.

My Samshields shipped out today. Who knows when they’ll get through Customs, though.

Still waiting on my used Barnes Buckles, ugh. muppet flail I like my Rid-Ups and their FreeJump-like treads enough that I’m tempted to see if the Barnes Buckles can be used with them. Multiple safety points, woohoo!

I also found out that the Safe-On by Flex-On stirrups are nicely heavier than I’d guessed: 1.2 lb each. If they had a twisted stirrup eye, I’d be all over them.

So I got my Acavallo Arenas today. I stalked the Amazon seller, and the price went down one day on the black ones, and I snagged them. I rode in them for the first time today, and I liked them! I am coming from a pair of Foot free stirrups, so that may be why I don’t mind that they don’t have a piece that turns them to the side for easy recapture should you lose them I felt a lot more stable in them than in the foots frees. They angle your heels down a bit, so I feel like I am cheating, but whatever.

I’m glad you like the Acavallos! YAY that you feel more stable in them. Different strokes for different feet. :smiley:

I almost ordered the Equiline S2s today (maybe the Euro sank against the dollar or Equiline slashed prices, because suddenly they are MUCH cheaper at some places). But I re-read the PR announcement about the S2s (which are aimed toward women) being lighter, and I hesitated. I just don’t like light stirrups when riding, even though they make it much nicer to swing the saddle over my horse’s back. So I’m still thinking about the S1s. I’ve asked Equiline to clarify the weights on both stirrups and will let y’all know when I hear.

On the downside, I’m still waiting on my Barnes Buckles. The seller apparently had a serious fall off her horse a few days ago, and if so, I wish her a super speedy recovery and return to the saddle. But hmm, she has had my money for more than three weeks, with plenty of time to mail them before her fall, and with repeated broken promises in that time that she’d be sending the buckles any day now, so I confess that part of me wonders if I’m just hearing a story… :confused:

On the upside, I got my Samshields today! They are very pretty and seem to have a good weight. My set came with the spiked foot treads. The twisted eye-hole barely counts as twisted IMHO, but I’ll see how they actually hang when I ride in them tomorrow. I’m also a little skeptical about the claim of shock absorption, but I’d love to be proved wrong. Fingers crossed.