At some point in our equestrian lives, we have all wondered... Which stirrups are best for me?
It's no secret that there are so many types of stirrups out on the market, and new doodads are emerging every day. Do we really need all the latest features? The answer, probably not.
We all have different priorities depending on which show ring we're in, who we are, and at what point we are in our lives. A common priority that comes into play with stirrups is our knees and ankles.
If you are someone who struggles with tightness, pain, or immobility of your joints (specifically your knees, ankles, and / or hips), jointed stirrups are a must for you. Jointed stirrups do the flexing for you and will compensate for any lack of mobility or flexibility. Jointed stirrups are also an extremely popular choice in the hunter / jumper / equitation world, for aesthetics and trends.
If you are someone that struggles with TOO much flexibility and has over-mobility in her joints (like me, a struggler of EDS), then jointed stirrups are an ABSOLUTE NO-NO. I used these for several years, I admit, for aesthetic purposes. It further damaged my knees and ligaments which already over stretch, and caused me a great deal of pain.
Those with over flexibility must use stirrups with stability; the best option is wide base stirrups. These stirrups do not bend, and provide a much larger platform to base ourselves on, prohibiting extra, unnecessary movement.
If you do not struggle with immobility or over mobility (lucky you!), and using stirrups appropriate for your show ring is important to you, it may please you to know that almost any stirrup "type" is allowed in most show rings. However, if you show hunters or do foxhunting, please stick to the most traditional option possible. Fillis stirrups and jointed stirrups are a classic favorite in these rings. Using something like composite stirrups, ESPECIALLY if they are colorful, is a big no-no in these sports.
The good news is, if you are a jumper or eventer, you can basically use whatever stirrup in any color that you want! In the middle ground is dressage, which is not as strict as hunters, but maybe not quite as freeform as eventing. Wide base stirrups are a popular choice, and of course, in conservative colors, or only small dashes of color, as with all else in dressage. Your stirrups should not stand out or be the focus of attention in dressage.
If you have had a fall scare in the past, or have been injured due to being stuck in a stirrup (we've all been there), the best option for you is safety stirrups, which are accepted in all show rings (pending color choices).