What are the Different Types of Stirrups?

Western Bell Stirrups

There many different types of stirrups and each have their particular functions and purpose.  In this article the different types of stirrups are described and their functions explained.


Western Bell Stirrups:  The western bell stirrup gets its name from its shape.  These stirrups are shaped very much like a bell.  They are the most common western stirrup.  They can be constructed out of wood, metal, or plastic.  The most common construction is a wood covered in a light metal that is left plain.  If the stirrup is used in a show arena the metal can be highly decorated and engraved.  This type of stirrup is suitable for general riding or showing.


Curved Western Stirrup:  Curved western stirrups come in many variations.  They can be angled in order to provide rider comfort.  They can also be angled a certain way to be safer for the rider.  These stirrups vary depending on the discipline and the fashion trend of the discipline at a certain time.  They are suited reiners, trail riders, ropers, equitation riders, and barrel racers.


Oxbow Western Stirrup:  The oxbow western stirrup is another common western stirrup.  They are named for their round shape.  The foot rest of the oxbow stirrup is very narrow, so this stirrup is not suited for long rides.  They are commonly found on antique saddles ranging in date from the early 1900’s.  The oxbow stirrup can vary from being very plain to very ornate. This stirrup is best suited for general riding or showing.


Hooded Western Stirrup:  Hooded stirrups are western stirrups with tapedaros.  This design prevents the rider’s foot from sliding through the stirrup if they fall.  They also provide protection while trail riding from branches and other elements you may encounter.  These stirrups are best suited for pleasure/ trail riders.

Abetta Leather Trail Leather Endurance Stirrups

Endurance Trial Riding Stirrup:  The endurance stirrup is great for pleasure/ trail riders who like to spend long hours in the saddle.  Endurance stirrups are very wide and well padded, this allows the rider to prevent foot soreness and numbness while riding.  They sit straight rather than sideways to avoid chafe and sores caused by the stirrup leathers.  They are typically constructed from lightweight and strong materials.  A variation of this stirrup can be hooded to prevent your foot from sliding through.  This stirrup is the number one choice for all endurance and trail riders.


English Peacock Stirrup:  The English Peacock stirrup is commonly known as a simple safety stirrup.  This stirrup is most often used by children or beginner riders.  The stirrup is designed so that if the rider were to fall the foot would pull through the elastic band side of the stirrup releasing the rider from the stirrup.  The stirrup is designed much like a normal English stirrup but the outside half hooks an elastic band instead being metal all the way around.  This elastic band piece is easily replaced and removed.  This stirrup is best suited of children and beginner riders. 


Jointed English Stirrup:  Jointed English stirrups are designed with a joint link in the upright part of the stirrup.  This makes the stirrup more flexible and comfortable for the rider.  The jointed arenas are typically covered with rubber.  This stirrup is most often used by jumpers and eventers.  The jointed part also allows for the foot to slide out of the stirrup easier.  This stirrup is best suited for jumping disciplines. 


Classic English Riding Stirrup Irons with Black RubberEnglish Stirrup:  The English stirrup has changed very little over the years.  It is possible that you may find an older saddle in which the English stirrup has a solid bottom.  Today the stirrup has an open oval bottom that is typically covered with a stirrup pad.  This pad will have a tread to help the rider maintain grip.  Some variations can be angled to relive and prevent ankle and leg pain; these types of English stirrups are called off-set stirrups.  Another variation of the English stirrup can be turned so that the stirrup sits sideways against the horse rather than flat.  This variation helps the rider to easily pickup their stirrup if lost.  This English stirrup is suitable for general riding and showing.


English Fillis Stirrup:  While similar to the English stirrup, the Fillis stirrup is referred to as the knife edged stirrup.   They are heavier and thicker at the bottom.  They were originally designed by the French military and dressage trainer James Fillis in the late 1800’s.  Because the stirrup is heavier it is easier to recover a lost stirrup while riding.  This stirrup is suitable for dressage and showing. 


Baroque Stirrup:  This stirrup is traditionally found on Spanish type saddles for breeds such as the Andalusian, Lusitano, and other baroque breeds.  The stirrup is made to hang sideways rather than flat against the horse’s sides.  Some designs are simple while others are very ornate.  The design greatly depends of the breed of horse and fashion trend.  These stirrups are best suited for baroque breed riding and showing.

Western Buddy Stirrups Youth Stirrups Kids Short Stirrups

Buddy Stirrup:  The buddy stirrup is a set of stirrups that attached to the horn of a western saddle.  These stirrups are designed so that a small child can use them while riding in front of the adult rider.  They can also do used for a small child to ride in a saddle whose stirrups do not go short enough.  This type of stirrup is best suited for very small children.