Classic stirrups are perfectly adequate for adults in normal conditions. Problems can arise when the horse rears, bucks, becomes startled and rears or bucks. Then the rider's foot can get caught in the stirrup. This is one of the most dangerous situations when riding. Safety stirrups provide a solution to this problem. They differ from the classic designs in that they release the foot quickly under such circumstances. Various techniques are used for this: safety caps, turning stirrups, stirrups with joints or stirrups with one side made of an elastic band.
Some safety stirrups have a folding mechanism. Stirrups with safety caps are particularly suitable for beginners and children. The caps prevent the foot from slipping through the stirrup and getting caught. The disadvantage is that these stirrups are visually conspicuous. All safety stirrups must be sufficiently wide.
Regardless of which stirrups you choose, getting the size right is an important safety consideration. If the stirrups are too wide, your foot will easily slip through the stirrups, unless you use stirrups with protective caps. If your foot is too wide for the stirrup, it will easily get caught in the stirrup if the horse stumbles, bucks or rears. However, the stirrup should never be too tight. Stirrups are available in different widths and there are also special stirrups for children. It is best to try out the stirrups with the shoes or boots you'll be wearing while riding, to make sure they fit properly.
Icelandic stirrups are made of metal and have a different shape than conventional stirrups. Their outer side is bent forward, while the inner side is bent backwards. This shape means that If the foot falls out of the stirrup unintentionally, it can quickly be picked up again. However, this only works if the Icelandic stirrup is attached to the saddle the right way round. Although these stirrups were not developed specifically as safety stirrups, they can be described as such. Of course you can also use these stirrups for riding horses other than Icelandic horses. After all, equipment used in Western riding is now sometimes used by riders who ride in the classical English style too.
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