Posted: 6th December 2018 | Back to news feed

Although stirrups are a fundamental part of the saddle and have been for thousands of years, there is relatively little research on them.

Melissa Andrew Rudd and Charlotte Farmer-Day (Brooksby Melton College), Hilary Clayton, Jane Williams (Hartpury) and myself have two papers available online "in press" today (November 29 2018).

The first paper is a survey into what factors influence choice of stirrup length in over 2000 riders. All riders consistently ranked feel of stirrups once mounted, how stable stirrups feel once moving and type of saddle being used as the three most important factors when deciding stirrup length across the disciplines.

In the second paper we measured the stirrup lengths selected by novice and experienced riders on three different live horses and a mechanical horse. There was no difference in stirrup length selected between the three live horses or between the mechanical horse and live horse for either novice or experienced riders. Experienced riders consistently selected a significantly longer stirrup length as a percentage of their leg length compared with novice riders. Experienced riders demonstrated a significantly larger knee angle compared with novice riders. Novice riders had a significantly larger knee angle on the mechanical horse compared with the live horse. The relatively longer stirrup length selected by experienced riders is thought to reflect the development of an independent seat, which implies the ability to move the legs independently of the pelvis. The chair seat adopted by novice riders on the mechanical horse could be considered counter to improving their equitation skills.

Rider reported factors influencing choice of stirrup length in dressage, showjumping and eventing, and para equestrianism

Comparison of stirrup lengths chosen for flatwork by novice and experienced riders

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