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Horsemanship How-to: Find the Correct Western Stirrup Length

Find the right stirrup length for a secure, comfortable and effective leg.

By Cindy Hale | Oct-11

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Western riderDo you ride western? Are your stirrups too long or too short? Western stirrups that are too long will undermine your sense of security. If your stirrups are too short, you’ll pop up and down in the saddle with every stride. So how do you find the stirrup length that’s right for you?

Begin by sitting in the “sweet spot” of your western saddle: not so far back that your jeans pockets are rubbing against the cantle yet not scooted so far forward that you’re snuggling against the swell. Let your feet dangle out of the stirrups. Relax your legs so they hang against your horse’s sides. Keep your eyes forward and your upper body erect. Now that you’re sitting in a naturally balanced position, feel for your stirrups. If they’re the correct length you should only have to bend your knee slightly and merely tip your boot toe up to slip it into the stirrup. If you find yourself hiking your knee up and creating a definite bend in the joint, then they’re too short. On the other hand, if you’re forced to resituate your seat in the saddle and fish for your stirrups then they’re too long.

Keep in mind that you’ll probably need to adjust your western stirrups if you switch from riding a rotund, stocky horse to one that’s narrow and refined. And of course personal preference allows you to raise or lower your stirrups a hole providing it doesn’t adversely affect your overall position. By maintaining the appropriate stirrup length in your western saddle you’ll be a more effective—and more comfortable—rider.

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