The Saddle Stirrups

stirrupsThe western saddle is incomplete without the stirrups. Stirrups were originally made from a single piece of wood. That technology evolved into steam-heated wood that was bent into the proper shape. They can then be left bare wood, galvanized sheet metal for increased strength, or both metal and leather wrapped. Monel stirrups are constructed entirely of metal (brass, aluminum, stainless steel), but they can also be built entirely of one of the emerging synthetic materials.

Types of Stirrups

A heavier stirrup will stay put better than a lighter one, making it simpler to locate with your boot. However, if you get hit in the head with one of the heavy techniques, you will feel it. Saddles with lighter weight models are used for competitions like barrel racing.

The height and width of Western stirrups are measured from the inside out. The height is measured from the tread to the roller, while the width is measured at the widest point. Ox Bows have a tread depth of less than an inch, whereas some bell bottoms have a tread depth of six inches.

Which stirrup is best for you depends on your intended use and personal preference. Longer rides are more comfortable with deeper treads. For competition or training, thinner treads provide more control. However, it is critical to select a size that is large enough to accommodate the width of your boot. It is the last thing you want to do if your foot gets stuck.

There are numerous types and varieties to choose from. Because they might indicate the profile shape (side view) or the front view form, the names can be a little confusing. Visalia, Moran, and Bell Bottom are the most common profile shapes. Roper, Oxbow, and Overshoe are the most common front view shapes.

Tapadaros are a variety that originated with southwest cowboys. Leather hoods called “taps” shield the boot from heavy brush and the cold. Taps began as a simple practical item and evolved into a highly adorned and visually appealing component.

A slew of innovative technologies have recently hit the market. There are variants built for heavy winter boots that are large. There are “breakaway” versions, which are meant to breakaway if the rider falls off and is in danger of being dragged. There are other “leg-saver” types that swivel and rotate to position the stirrup at the correct 90-degree angle to the fender.

Learn how to establish the correct stirrup length and how to turn your stirrups in our How To section.

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