Uneven stirrups

I am posting this out of pure desperation, seeking advice/help.
I’ve been riding pretty much my whole life and I feel I’ve always been relatively balanced. I started in hunters,then Eventing and more recently(2 years) dressage. Over the past year I constantly feel like my right stirrup is constantly shorter than the left. Now matter how far I put it down, it is always shorter than the left, sometimes my left stirrup feels too long while my right stirrup is too short. I know I sit evenly, I’ve had many trainers advice and they always say I’m sitting even through my body and seat and I don’t lean to the side, mg saddle is even. This problem happens in every saddle(jumping ,dressage, western) every stirrup, every horse and it’s constant while riding. I’ve gone to the chiropractor hoping maybe something was out of wack but alas nothing. It’s very uncomfortable and it does make it hard to balance. I’ve tried different boots, different insoles and even risers in the left boot and nothing ever changes. I’m starting to feel like it must be in my head, but it is definitely not just in my head. I’m hoping someone has had a similar problem and can give any advice or suggestions, I’m open to anything. My mare and I are moving up to 3rd level and I’d love to balanced again, I’m not sure what changed.

Years ago I taught a student who also wanted her stirrups uneven. By coincidence, she made prosthetics for a living and one day, they got a specialized machine to measure leg lengths, and as they learned to use it, she found out her one leg was significantly shorter than the other! Her hips had learned to compensate, so she never noticed. Not sure how common this is, but her chiropractor never noticed.

It could also be your horse though, if you only ride one horse. If your horse consistently carries one side of its back tight, that side will feel higher and you will want that stirrups shorter.


Do you ride in an arena with mirrors?
Have you tried changing leathers, left to right… sometimes repeat mounting stretches the left leather.
Ask someone to video your riding, from the back. This may help.
…(ask me how I know)… for a long time I felt this way and videos (mostly at shows where my nerves took over) showed that I WAS sitting crooked. My right side collapsed and to compensate I slid left a bit. It was that the right side of my body was trying to go to a fetal position, right knee to right chest. It was so bad that against advice I actually LENGTHENED my right stirrup (half an inch, one hole). That meant in order to keep that stirrup I had to sit to the right. I also spent lots of time without stirrups. But I will say that it got better with time and on ‘better’ horses or at least horses that are not as one-sided as my previous horse. But I still have to pay attention, especially when I get nervous (mostly at shows or riding new horses).

I would measure you stirrups (with a tape measure, not just count the holes) and then video a ride.


You could try Greg Best’s method to test your straightness and relaxation of your leg. Remove your leathers and buckle them together at an appropriate length for your leg. Drape them over your saddle and ride like that


That’s so interesting and nice to know it’s not just me! I’ll look into measuring my legs!

I have seen this before but never thought to try it! That’s a great idea, thanks!

1 Like

Thanks! I’ll look closely at some videos!

Are you changing which side your stirrups leathers on? As the one you mount with will end up longer than the other one.

Put one strap in front of the pommel, if you are going to do anything other than just walk.

Look up Franklin Balls, get them and use them!

I believe leg length discrepancy can only be checked by xrays… although it’s been years since I’ve had a student with this problem so new techniques may be available now.

The client that had a true leg length discrepancy did indeed ride a hole and a half longer to be straight in her hips. Her shoulders were also not level from many years of compensation. She would also “drift” when walking down the aisle.

Best of luck!

1 Like

This is somewhat common (or at least I like to think so, since I am a sufferer of this problem myself), though it’s a bit uncommon that it’s just come on rather suddenly for you. Anyway, for whatever reason, it seems that your bodies “map” is off now, which is a frustrating feeling indeed. I’d recommend some soft tissue bodywork (in particular I like Bowen with this sort of thing. But it’s not the only one… you just want something that works on integration/fascial chains, etc, etc a little more than basic massage). I’d also look at working with a Feldenkrais practitioner. There are even some who specifically work with riders, but if that’s not available to you, the general lessons will still translate over to the saddle.

@Brown_Derby, can you point me to a video or photo of this? I can’t quite picture how this set up works, and Google has thus far failed me. Thanks!


I’ve worked with Dave Thind (who is also a dressage trainer). He does Zoom if there is no one near you.

This also is what I have found out about my legs. I keep herniating a disc in my lower back. My PT was wondering if my legs were two different lengths. Got sent to a podiatrist who measured my legs - my right leg is 0.5" shorter than my left. He actually said true leg length discrepancies are rare - guess I’m one of the lucky ones…

Always wondered why I lost my right stirrup more than my left as I have my stirrups at the same length.

It would be good to check it out and see. My differential is enough that the podiatrist had to remake shoes for me and change out the soles to increase the height of the right shoe by 9mm. I am supposed to be wearing the shoes basically at all times when I am not in bed sleeping. I haven’t figured out a correction for my riding boots yet as the soles wouldn’t be thick enough to be modified.

1 Like