Last winter during lessons I noticed that my feet were going numb by the end of my ride. At first, I thought nothing of it, figuring the extra layers under my breeches were the culprit. But throughout the spring and summer the numbness persisted, but I also added mild knee and lower back pain to the list of bodily complaints after riding. Naturally, I turned to Google to solve my problem. After perusing some random articles, I came across a thread on the Chronicle of the Horse Forums that suggested trying the next size up in stirrup irons.
I didn’t even know stirrups came in sizes! So I measured my tried and true Fillis irons. The came in at barely 4 ¼” long, making them the smallest size Fillis irons on the market. Doh!
I decided on the spot that I obviously needed new irons; but what to buy? I begged my friends to let me try their stirrups to see what I liked, because there are about a million options floating around nowadays. First, I tried a pair of Herm Sprengers, but the joint made my feet feel wiggly, like someone was pushing “up” while I pushed “down.” I also tried a friend’s pair of EquiWing Stirrups, as I’d read that a wide track foot bed might help alleviate knee and lower back pain. As soon as I started riding in them, I fell in love. I felt more secure, my knees and back didn’t hurt and I could feel all of my toes again!
This is where I’d like the story to end with the purchase of a pair of beautiful EquiWing stirrup irons, but naturally my life isn’t that easy.
Since I show hunters, my trainer was adamant that I buy silver or at least gray stirrups – no black. Just “in case you want to show in Equitation one day.” Okay, fine. Luckily EquiWing stirrups not only come in the black hypernylon my friend had, but aluminum as well. Brilliant! Except, as I would find out over the course of a few months, Aluminum EquiWing Stirrups are not currently available anywhere in the U.S. and are stuck in customs never-never-land, with no estimated arrival date. Fuck.
After three months of waiting, I finally gave up. I need stirrups! So I began my search again. Royal Riders came to mind immediately, but not only did I not want to spend $200+, I also wasn’t in love with the matte finish their gray stirrups had. So I continued searching and eventually stumbled across the MDC Sport Classic Stirrup. At $170 on SmartPak (with my trusty AQHA discount), it was more than I wanted to spend, plus I was skeptical of their “intelligent stirrup” marketing but with SmartPak’s easy return process and a bit of encouragement from my mother, I caved and clicked “purchase.”
And I am so glad I did.
I’m still not convinced that these stirrups are very smart, but the team at MDC who designed them have to be members of Mensa. These stirrups feature a rotatable “eyelet” for the stirrup leather to pass through. You can set this eyelet to 45 degrees, 90 degrees or leave it the way a normal stirrup would be. The eyelet isn’t hard to move, per say, but it doesn’t shift during your ride – it’s very stable. The point, you ask? It puts the stirrup at the correct angle to your foot, without YOU having to put it there, thus reducing the pressure across your shin and relieving pressure on your hips, knees and ankles as well. Supposedly it helps with leg position too. Whatever. The point is that they are magical, and I’m in love. Make sure to read my product review for full details, but the gist is, these stirrups rock!