English Stirrup Information
Stirrups introduced after 800 BC and changed the course of history.
This seemingly insignificant piece of riding equipment changed warfare dramatically. For once introduced, warriors could attack with swords or lances because the stirrups afforded them the balance required to use such weapons. In addition mounted riders now were able to flee attackers much more rapidly. Thus the military term strategic withdrawal came into use. Instead of “run for your lives”. The first stirrups were actually toe rings and were found in India about the 2nd century BC. Stirrups designed to accept the entire foot were recorded in China about the 4th century AD. This made mounting much more safe while carrying weapons. By the 8th century the use of stirrups had spread throughout central Asia and Europe and by the 8th century had revolutionized warfare.
Today the traditional stainless steel Fillis iron is the most popular. It is sturdy and rarely breaks. It has a polished finish that remains so with little care for years and is inexpensive. Technology has recently presented riders with a number of other choices. Such as the jointed stirrup featuring a flexible foot bed. These are more popular with equitation riders because the allow heels to be lowered with ease. However, some believe that these stirrups do not provide a secure enough base. Offset stirrups place the stirrup leather slot so that it will assist the rider in placing their leg against the horses side while keeping the heel down. There are a number of safety stirrups such as the Foot Free and Peacock stirrups. Both work well in keeping the foot from getting caught if a fall occurs. Both incorporate the features of the Fillis irons. Composite stirrups are lighter in weight and may not bother the horse as much if dropped but it is harder to regain the stirrup than Fillis irons. Most recently offered is the all aluminum stirrups produced by a CNC method. Meaning that they are not casted. They are precisely cut out on a CNC machine. I believe this to be a compromise between the stainless steel irons and the composite irons.
Get the correct size stirrups.
To be safe every rider should be sure that they purchase the correct size stirrups. Fillis irons are sold in sizes from 4 inches in quarter inch increment up to 5 inches. To determine the correct size measure you boot at the widest part and add one inch. This will help to allow your foot to disengage the stirrup if you fall.