The stirrup is often called the third revolutionary step in horse equipment, after the chariot and the saddle.
The invention of the stirrup occurred relatively late in history, since the domestication of the horse seems to date back to 4,500 BC
The earliest manifestation of the stirrup was a toe loop that held the big toe and was used in India, possibly as early as 500 BC.
This primitive Stirrup consisted of a looped rope for the big toe which was at the bottom of a saddle made of fiber or leather. Steel stirrups seemed to have entered the scene around the first century AD. The use of stirrups dramatically changed the methods of War on Horseback since they allowed the rider to be balanced, “stand up” while riding and swing a sword.
“Few inventions have been so simple as the stirrup, but few have had so catalytic an influence on history” Read More
In modern times the Stirrup has evolved into an important “tool” in the equestrian world and comes in many shapes and material. Before going further it is interesting to note that it wasn’t until the “treed” saddle was put to use that stirrups functioned well and kept the horse from “soreing”. Without a solid tree, the rider’s weight in the stirrups creates abnormal pressure points and make the horse’s back sore. Read more here
The English (flat seat) riding discipline used steel stirrups attached with relatively thin stirrup straps attached through the saddle tree. Today these stirrups are made of Steel, aluminum and other strong metals. They come in various shapes.
Buckaroo Leather Products features “Western Style” Stirrups in various shapes. The most popular in the Bell shape shown to the right. This stirrup in fashioned from Hardwood and new age plastics and then covered with quality leather (or Rawhide) and stitched with tough Indian tan leather thong laces. The shape provides the rider a secure flat surface for foot support and the transference of weight. This is a popular style for those involved in Roping activities. Buckaroo Leather number on this style is Product SKU: ST160-3 Leather and Rawhide covered stirrups laced with tough Indian tan laces. Leather is natural oiled skirting leather to match most saddles; also available covered in extra tough rawhide. 3in. neck/top to fit standard stirrup leathers on your saddle.
The Visalia style stirrup is usually lighter weight, and a more narrow “foot rest” and is favored by the ladies and used extensively in the sport of Barrel racing. This one is also popular as a cutting stirrup. The rider does not usually need to “stand up” in the saddle, as the roper does. The picture at left is showing Visalia Stirrup ST 254620 at Buckaroo Leather. It features 2″ Laminated Wood, Walnut Color Leather Wrapped 3″ Open Neck. With leather wear tread. Another model of the Visalia stirrup in the Aluminum framed Stirrup with foot leathers. This stirrup offers less wight for the true speed enthusiast and offers 2″ Aluminum Stirrups, Visalia shape with 3″ neck and wear leather tread.
Another popular Western style Stirrup is the “Oxbow” This style is favored by “Cutters” and the rider will find more comfort by insert foot through the stirrups, not just the front part of the foot. The roper is typically riding with the ball of the foot for support. The wider the foot rest, the more support you have when standing up in the saddle. The curve, however is believed to allow a faster removal of the foot in emergency. The painting by Paul Miller to the left is courtesy of Fine Art America. The Oxbow Stirrup today is leather or rawhide covered and cast from Aluminum with Leather Foot pads. Buckaroo Leather offers a quality western Oxbow stirrup and some call it the Vaquero stirrup. It is Model number
ST 254500. Remember, this style of Stirrup is considered uncomfortable for those use to riding on the balls of their feet.
In Western Riding the Bell shaped, wide roper stirrup and Visalia stirrup style seem to be most popular. An article about stirrups would not be complete with discussion of the Tapadero Style Stirrup. Many of us are used to seeing “Taps” in parades and Fancy saddlery. They were created to give the rider foot protection when riding in the thick Southwestern Sagebrush and some Tapaderos can be removed from the Stirrup.
Watch the Following Video for a close up on the three popular western style stirrups