By Jerry Tardif
For those of you that enjoy long trail rides as I do, you may want to consider switching to endurance stirrups if you haven't done so already.
For most of us, long rides will often mean a little soreness for the soles of our feet.
And if, like me, you do a lot of half-seat riding for the occasional small jump and to quickly shift balance while rounding corners at a trot (or canter, or gallop, or, orů), ankles and knees can also get sore because we're using them as a shock absorption system (a la skiers), though, we are protecting our backs much more by doing so.
Endurance stirrups are deeper front-to-back than conventional stirrups and that distributes our weight over more of the sole of our feet.
But because they're deeper, they should also be wider or there will be a slightly increased chance to wedge your foot in the stirrup — a wider stirrup preserves your foot's ability to slip out during a fall — a good thing.
Some also have foam-padded bottoms which serve to absorb some of the pounding and reduces strain from the aforementioned half-seat riding using our legs to absorb shock.
You can get endurance stirrups in heavy-duty, black plastic, metal, leather covered metal, and wood.
I bought the heavy-duty, black plastic because it goes well with my black tack (and my horse is a bay).
They were inexpensive (~ $25.00), look fine, and work well.
I've found my legs and feet are more comfortable during and after my rides since converting to them.
I also occasionally ride the horses of friends from time to time in both western and English tack and I immediately notice how less comfortable I find other stirrups.
Besides being an avid trail rider, Jerry Tardif is a technology consultant and a horse and nature photographer in SE Connecticut — see his work at: www.jerrytardif.com.
He is also co-founder and President of QueryHorse.
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