Stirrups. How Complicated Can They Be?! Read On…

I write the title with a smile.  The idea of writing about stirrups seems like it would take one paragraph.  Right?  Except, when I went to my trailer to photograph all of my stirrups, I started to laugh.  I have 4 saddles with 4 different types of stirrups and I have one more set on the way from Ebay and a few dormant pairs.  So, just little ol’ me, strictly a trail rider, has 8 sets!  There must be a lot to say about stirrups and I’m about to barely scratch the surface with you all today…


First, since I only know what I use, my choices are always for weight (light), safety, ease in turning the leathers, width at the neck, width at the ball of my foot and looks (maybe).   I prefer very lightweight so I like aluminum, titanium, plastic (yup, sorry) or rawhide.  I have pictured my plastic, wide mouthed, narrow foot pad stirrups that I have ridden in for years.  In these tried ‘n true but kinda ugly stirrups, I have lightweight, ease in tying up on the saddle, ease in turning the leathers because of the wide mouth and a very comfortable foot pad – for me.  So, lightweight is my #1.   If a stirrup doesn’t hit me in the shin and cause a bruise when I’m carrying my saddle, I like it.  I absolutely HATE when a clunky stirrup leaves a dent in my leg.  Grrrr.  But, even though I love the lightweight stirrups, I have gone for heavier weight if they have a purpose…


Easy turn of the leathers is one purpose that I have embraced in exchange for lightness.  I have these Herm Sprenger pre-turned stirrups that do mess with my shins but luckily, I can throw them over each side of the saddle and they stay there.  Anyway, I like my Sprengers because I can always find them.  I never, ever do the ankle dance when trying to look find my stirrup without cueing your mount to arabesque.  I have these on my Sensation Saddle


Many, many endurance riders love these stirrups with the wide footpad.  The pair I have also has a caged front for safety.  Now, I’m not saying anything is wrong with these types of stirrups.  I know that some people think they are a Godsend.  For me, they make my knees hurt.  But, if you like these, you can get them in a few different colors with a few options like height of pad, width of pad, material and safety cage.  The most popular brand is EZ Ride.


I am a sucker for the shaped stirrups because in my mind, I think they will free my foot more easily.  But, I am not really sure that is true.  I haven’t had many close calls where I thought to myself, “Gosh, I’m so glad that I had those shaped stirrups or I’d be a goner!.”  However, I think others have said this so I err on the side of other peoples’ experience and purchased a pair of the shaped stirrups.  Now, the pair I have, the Royal Rider, are made in Italy, are aluminum and shaped so you can release your foot (in theory) and also find your stirrup.  They have a narrow mouth (bummer since I like wider leathers) so I can only use them on my English saddle that has the 1″ leathers.  But, I do like them and I never have to do the search-for-my-stirrup leg dance.  They are weighted very well.  I had a heck of a time figuring out which one goes on which side until I realized that the foot pad is flush with the foot side.  Duh.  Anyway, they have a diagram on the box if anyone else has the same issue.  (Obviously others did or they wouldn’t have the diagram on the box.)  I use this on my Dressage saddle.


I have an issue here.  It seems like many stirrups are made for narrow riding boots.  I can understand that.  But, as a trail rider, I wear more rugged (just in case I need to walk/hike) boots when I’m riding.  These types of boots tend to be more wide.  Now, I don’t have a big foot, but I felt like BigFoot with stirrups I’ve tried in the past.  To me, if your foot is too snug in the stirrup, it is a recipe for disaster.  So, I have pictured here my Aussie Aluminum stirrups.  I use these on my FreeForm saddle.  When I tried to find them again online, they seem to have been replaced with several new Aussie Aluminum designs.  So, if you are interested, just do a Google search.


I know the best safety stirrups are the kind with the band on one side.  But, they are usually for English riding.

However, I just found these in my search.  They are called Side Step Safety Stirrups.  I think I will try them and report back.  The website really touts lots of great attributes.  I like that they can spring open from any torque, have an average foot pad, they are wide enough for my boots and it says that it won’t hurt my knees.  Plus a 30-Day money back guarantee!  So, I’m going to give them a whirl.

I also wanted to show these fun, colored, aluminum racing stirrups.  I think that when you want so change things up or just feel a little different, this could be a fun alter-ego fest!  The website is called, “Chick Saddlery”.  It was a huge website.  I think I’ll check out other things they sell – maybe they have some deals I can tell you about…  But for now, this is me signing off on stirrups.

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Oy. Sometimes You Just Get Emotional. Any Helpers Out there?

I have to say that I am very careful about these kinds of posts because I don’t want to become a rescue blog.  I’m not saying I’m not all for it —  I am.

So, standing on the shoulders of my byline, “Exploring the bond between equines and their people”, I’m going to post about an equine that needs people.  Now, there are many, many horses out there that need help, but babies and skinny, pregnant mares seem to really tug at my heart.  Well, they ALL tug at my heart…

I was sitting here on Saturday morning, musing about my topic for Sunday when this came into my mailbox.  Oy.  Another starved baby on Craigslist.  The sad part is the owners think the foal is just fine and want $100 for his purchase.  Luckily, a wonderful rescue in that area, Beauty’s Haven Farm and Equine Rescue, is going out to get him today.  As of right now, I have no idea if they will get there in time…  If you want to watch the progress of this rescue, you can go to the BHFER  website for updates.  Or check in with this Forum (you might have to sign up… if so, look for the header, “BHFER: Starved baby needs help” under HORSE RESCUE ISSUES) that is taking donations and keeping everyone abreast of the situation up to the minute.  It will take many man hours, man power and special care to nurse this baby back to health.  If you feel the desire to donate, I do know that BHFER is a  501(c)(3) Non-Profit Organization so the donation is tax deductible.

So, if this moves you, please go to either of the sites above to watch this story unfold or to  help with his, we hope, rehabilitation.

HOW DO YOU RE-FEED A STARVED HORSE?   Did you know that you cannot just give them a bunch of grain and hay?  There is a method to re-feeding a starved horse.

WHAT VETS SAY (I have two vet links highlighted here)

.  Most vets recommends this:

“The best approach to re-feeding a starved horse is to give frequent (every 4 hours) meals of high-quality alfalfa hay,” Stull says.

One pound or about one-sixth of a flake at each meal will provide a good source of protein to begin rebuilding the body. Because alfalfa is high in calcium, magnesium and phosphorus, it helps provide electrolytes that reduce the risk for catastrophic system failure.

This diet should be maintained for 10 days, though the amount of alfalfa can be increased (up to four pounds) and the number of feedings decreased (to three) for Days 4 through 10.

After 10 days the horse can be fed as much alfalfa as it will eat in two feedings, and it should be allowed access to a salt or electrolyte mix. Feeding grain or other supplements should be avoided until the horse is well on its way to recovery, which can take 60 to 90 days.


I’m going to tell you about his incredible feed for starved horses.  I’m not saying the vets aren’t right, I’m just saying that this works great, too!  This is an easy to digest, complete feed for horses in general —  but for starved horses in particular.  So, you will know if you ever come upon a starvation case…

I first heard about this feed when I was watching a starved horse story on one of the rescue boards.  Then, I saw THRIVE pop up several more times on other starvation cases.  What really got me is that the manufacturer of this feed, DALE MOULTON went above and beyond the call of duty.  I know he traveled the feed himself to destinations where the starved horses were being rehabilitated.  He would do whatever he could to get the feed to the horses!  I remember that he once met the rescuers half way between a far away starved horse and the Thrive distribution center in Texas.  I was amazed!  He won my heart after that!  But, not just on his grace, on the success of the feed.

One Thrive starvation story that I will site here is the case of “Dolly”.  When she came into Rainbow Meadows, she couldn’t even stand up.  The rescuers picked her up, loaded her into the trailer while she was laying down, drove her for 3 hours and tended to her like a Faberge Egg.  (This was Oct 31st pictured.)  I can remember how the first five days were touch and go as they waited for the Thrive to get to them.  (Pictured as Nov. 1st.)  As you can see by the pictures (third pic is Dolly on Nov 25th), Dolly thrived (last pic was Jan ’10)!

Here is an excerpt from the Rainbow Meadow website regarding Dolly:  “Dolly came to Rainbow Meadows in the most dire condition of any horse to arrive here. Saved by two wonderful volunteers, who trailered her in from Missouri, Dolly had almost nothing left in her. So thin and so weak, she couldn’t even stand for the three-hour trailer ride to the rescue. For the first days, she spent much of her time lying down, and could only rise when given the assistance of being hoisted up with a tractor. But by less than two weeks later, she was already trotting, gaining weight and healing from her wounds caused by her struggling as she laid in the trailer for transport. Her recovery will be a long one, but she has already proven that she has a true zest for life and Rainbow Meadows is doing everything it can to give her the chance she deserves!”

So, in conclusion, this post holds a few stories of man helping equine.  I sure hope this little nameless starved Craigslist colt will have the same happy ending as Dolly.

Thanks for reading this…

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