Why do Jockeys seem to ride with the tips of their toes in the stirrups?

I would think it would be more secure to have iron access the ball of the foot. Amazingly they seem to stay on pretty well. I’m just wondering because I just don’t know.

As a guess, because the ball of the foot allows balance and mobility in the leg and therefore the whole body. Pushing the stirrup towards the heel reduces mobility. As an experiment, try riding a push bike with balls of feet on the pedals versus arches of foot on the pedals.

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Agreed; I just watched a race where I was amazed the jockey’s foot stayed in the stirrup - to the point where I wondered if maybe it wasn’t even there and he was somehow (magically) holding that position without the right stirrup at all?

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Wouldn’t they need to lengthen the stirrup to get more of the foot in? Would that restrict their ability to sort of hover above the shoulder, stretch out and flow with the movement of the horse? Its all about enhancing the speed and power of the horse.

Don’t they ride with slightly longer stirrups in Europe? I wonder what the reasoning is behind that?

The tracks in Europe are not perfectly flat–uphills, downhills, undulating. Maybe that is the reason for the longer stirrups.

I too am amazed by how they keep the very tip of their toes in the stirrups.


Jockey boot soles are flexible and riding with the stirrups on your toes allows you to curl your toes around the stirrup irons. It helps with balance and leverage.


I would want to have a magnetic plate where the boot and the stirrup meet. Weak enough to release me in an accident but strong enough to keep my toes on the stirrup during routine jostling. But maybe I am just a great big wuss!!!. I wonder if jockeys have super strong toes?

Willesdon. I was meaning riding with ball of foot across iron like I do when I normally ride vs the toe.

Not asking about the ball of the foot here, but the toes. Try pushing a bike pedal with your toes.

I believe punchy’s answer is to the point.

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Great question. Thanks for asking. I’ve also wondered why, it seems so precarious. Jockeys are such amazing athletes.

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Fascinating. I didn’t know that. That makes a lot of sense; otherwise it seems like just mere luck that keeps them losing their stirrups at a dead gallop.

They must have SUPER STRONG TOES!!! I’m not sure I would want to rely on my toes curled around the iron to keep me on but if it works for them…

Its about the only choice in a flat racing saddle. Try sitting in one, its…awful. Made to free up the horse not cradle the rider. Jump jocks ride a bit longer.

And the thought of getting a foot caught in the iron may also be incentive, generally the leathers are set up to not slide out in an emergency.(corrected)