Western Saddle Guide
 

Western Saddle Guide > Saddle Parts > Stirrups

The Stirrups

The stirrups are an integral part of the western saddle. Originally, stirrups were cut from a single piece of wood. That method evolved into using wood that is steam heated and bent into the desired shape. From there, they can be left bare wood, covered with galvanized sheet metal for added strength, or covered with both metal and leather. They can also be made completely of metal (brass, aluminum, stainless steel), such as Monel stirrups, or out of one of the new synthetic materials.




You'll find a wide selection of stirrups in our Western Tack Shop or at State Line Tack.




stirrup A heavier stirrup will hang down in place better than a lighter one and make it easier to find with your boot. However, the heavy styles pack a real punch if you get hit in the head with one, so beware. Lighter weight models are popular on saddles for competition such as barrel racing.

Western stirrups have height and width measurements that are taken from the inside. The width is measured at the widest point, and the height is measured from the tread to the roller. The tread depth can vary from less than an inch on Ox Bows to six inches on some bell bottoms.

stirrups Intended use and personal preference determine which stirrup is the right choice for you. Deeper treads make for more comfort for long rides. Thinner treads make for more control for competition or training. It’s crucial, however, to choose a size that is wide enough for the size of your boot. Getting your foot hung up is not something you want to experience.

There are many styles and variations available. The names can be somewhat confusing because they can describe the profile shape (side view) or the front view shape. The main profile shapes are Visalia, Moran, and Bell Bottom. The main front view shapes are Roper, Oxbow, and Overshoe.

stirrups Tapadaros are a variation that came from the cowboys of the southwest. “Taps” are leather hoods that protect the boot from the heavy brush and cold. Taps started out as purely functional but developed into a highly decorated and visual piece.

A number of new inventions are now on the market. There are oversized models that are designed for heavy winter boots. There are “breakaway” versions that are designed to breakaway when the rider is falling off and in danger of getting hung up and dragged. There are also so-called “leg-saver” designs that are on a swivel and will turn to position the stirrup to the correct 90 degree angle to the fender.

Visit our How To section to learn how to determine the correct stirrup length and how to turn your stirrups.


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