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Stirrup Types: Comfort, Balance & Performance

Posted by Camarillo Staff on

By Sharon Camarillo & Donna Irvin

The type of stirrup you choose to put your boot in has a huge impact on your safety, comfort, balance and performance!

We have all heard stories or have experienced that split second when your foot hangs up and how quickly it can become a dangerous situation! Stirrup fit is crucial! A good rule of thumb is that you can place a finger between your boot and each side of the stirrup. This fit allows the rider the ability to have feel while reducing the chances of getting hung up. Stirrups can also be too large, especially for youth riders. Always be sure the stirrup is not so wide that the foot can slip through.


For balance and comfort, width of the base is a key factor. We prefer a 3 inch base as it provides a stable platform for your foot. The stirrup in this photo has a nice tread but the width is less than two inches. When performing quick movements at a high rate of speed narrow stirrups can cause the rider’s toes to point downer or the heel to drop causing the upper body to get ahead or behind the motion!

Another important safety factor is matching the type of riding boot with the type of stirrup tread. For barrel racing we prefer a smooth sole leather riding boot paired with a stirrup pad with grip. This combination allows for good feel and grip! Boots with thick rough soles paired with stirrups that have grip can get you hung up. If you tie down rope, goat tie or ride colts you may want to consider wearing smooth sole boots with stirrups that have smooth leather pads so that its easier to get out of your stirrups.

 Our stirrups of choice are the offset or crooked designs! In this photo, the rider on the left has traditional stirrups which hang at an angle. This position puts strain on your knees, ankles and hips. The rider on the right has STS stirrups which are designed to hang level allowing the rider to have a balanced platform for the foot. These stirrups are much more comfortable and our students agree that they have less knee, hip and ankle pain. These stirrups also make it easier for the rider to use their entire leg and seat with more control and balance to influence the horses body position and movement! The STS stirrups also has pegs on the underside for barrel racers that like to use rubber bands!

“Details Matter, Ride On!”

 Published in Rodeo News March 2018 

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