How to Adjust the Stirrups on an English Saddle

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Put the saddle on the horse.,
Pull the buckle up against the stirrup bar.,
Take hold of the stirrup buckle and iron.,
Pull the stirrup to your left arm.,
Adjust the stirrup if necessary.,
Repeat for the other stirrup.,
Check the stirrup length after mounting.,
Adjust the stirrup leather if necessary.,
Put your feet in the stirrup irons.,
Check that your stirrups feel even on both sides.

If you are not about to ride, you may put the saddle on another surface of the same height. Face the saddle, with the stirrups hanging down.;
, If the buckle isn’t already in this position, grasp the part of the stirrup leather closest to the saddle. Pull downward until you hear the buckle click against the stirrup bar.

If your fingertips reach the buckle when your left arm is fully outstretched, the stirrup leather should be close to your ideal length. If not, use the buckle to lengthen or shorten the leather.

, Place your right hand on the stirrup iron. Place your left hand on the buckle, reaching along the stirrup leather and under the saddle’s “skirt.”

Switch the “left” and “right” if you are left-handed.

, Pull the stirrup toward your left arm until it touches against you. The exact position depends on what type of riding you’ll be doing:

If you will be jumping, the stirrup should reach your left armpit.
For dressage, the stirrup should touch your first ribs.
For ordinary riding, the stirrup should be somewhere between these positions, or touch our left arm just in front of your armpit.

, If the stirrup does not reach you or feels slacked when brought to this position, adjust the stirrup leather to a different hole. Repeat these steps until the stirrup is in the correct position.

Count the number of holes you moved, so you can do the same with the stirrup on the opposite side. (If the holes are numbered, just make a mental note of the number.)

, Move to the opposite side of the horse and adjust the stirrups using the same process. This ensures that your stirrups are roughly the same length before you mount.

, Sit in the saddle with your legs hanging down comfortably, outside the stirrups. For ordinary riding, the bottom of the stirrup iron should hit the middle of your ankle bone.

Ride with slightly shorter stirrups when jumping, to help take your weight out of the saddle when in jumping position.
Ride with slightly longer stirrups for schooling or dressage, in order to have closer lower leg contact with your horse.

, If the iron is not in the correct place, lift the ‘skirt’ covering the buckle. Pull the stirrup leather up a few inches (several centimeters) through the stirrup bar. Buckle again into a higher or lower hole on the stirrup leather as needed, then pull the part of the leather closest to the saddle down again. You should hear the buckle click up against the stirrup bar.

Keep your feet out of the stirrup irons during this adjustment.

, Make sure the leather lies smooth, not twisted, between your leg and the saddle flap. Turn your toes into the stirrup iron, then forward. (Alternatively, grasp the iron with your hand and turn it outwards, just enough to slip your foot in.) The bend of your knee should be comfortable against the knee roll. Your heels should naturally sink slightly below the level of your toes when the ball your foot is resting on the stirrup iron.

When rotating the stirrup by hand, move the left stirrup anticlockwise and the right stirrup clockwise.

, If you’re not sure, ask your horse to stand at a square halt on a flat surface, without resting a hind hoof. Ask someone to stand in front of your horse and check whether the stirrups look the same length or need further adjustment. It’s important to have them as even as possible so that your position in the saddle is centered and your weight is evenly distributed. Uneven stirrups can cause the horse discomfort and muscle damage.

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