"Few inventions have been so simple as the stirrup, but few have had so catalytic an influence on history.”1
Unfortunately although credited by some with the rise of western civilization modern stirrups do have a dark side: The Hang Up.
One of the most dangerous problems with the stirrup is that in the event of a fall a rider can get a boot stuck in it, which can then result in the person being dragged.
TrailMeister reader Tootie sent in a wonderful tip to help riders avoid this potentially deadly event.
“My suggestion is to wear slip on boots not lace ups. I was bucked off one time and my foot was caught in my stirrup. My horse ran up and down the trail swinging me in circles while I hung off of her. This went on long enough for me to think about how I was going to extricate myself. Since I was wearing cowboy boots, I was able to wiggle my foot out of the boot, and I fell to the ground. “
All riding boots have incorporated common features to reduce the chance of becoming caught such as:
While slip on boots certainly can come off a foot easier than lace ups there are also other methods by which to reduce the chances of having a foot caught.
First let’s discuss how a foot can become caught in your stirrup.
Improper stirrup sizing is a major contributor in instances of a rider being hung up.
Mechanical solutions to this problem are as varied as the saddles they’re attached to. All so called safety stirrups have been designed to allow the stirrup to break away, fall off or easily release the foot if the rider falls. Features often seen include hinges, breakaway bands, and swivels to either break away or pivot the stirrup for easier removal of the foot.
An easy solution to the hang up problem for trail riders, and others, is the use of tapaderos, also called Devonshire boots in English disciplines. These are essentially stirrup covers that place a physical barrier in front of the stirrup making it impossible for a boot to slide through. For trail riders these stirrup covers also help keep your feet dry and prevent branches and brush from catching the stirrups.
Ultimately it is every rider’s personal choice as to their use of safety gear, and we hope that this discussion helps to illustrate some potential options for you.
Hey! You made it all the way through. Here's a bunch more great tips to keep you on the trail and in the saddle...
1White, Jr., Lynn Medieval Technology and Social Change (1962)
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