The Dangers of Riding Without a Safety Stirrup

Many years ago I had a superintendent of a local school district call me knowing I was involved with kids and horses. Seemed his district had a school-sponsored riding program and one of the little girls had in a lesson been dragged to death by the horse she was on. In horror I responded to the news with the question; “why had the safety stirrup not deployed releasing the girl’s foot?” His response to my question was; “what’s a safety stirrup”?

I was shocked and after explaining the necessity of such precautions and shared with him the realization of how senseless the little girl’s death was I warned him that he’d better hope that the parents didn’t contact me regarding the tragedy because I would counsel them to go after the school district for blatant neglect and endangering children’s lives.

Maybe it’s because my Great Grandfather was dragged to death by a horse but I’ve always thought it reckless to be riding a horse without some type of safety stirrup. Although a typical western stirrup offers a little more protection against losing one’s foot through especially when wearing a western boot it’s just careless to ride in an English stirrup without it being equipped to release if a rider gets their foot hung up through a fall and being crazy enough to ride without a boot such as in wearing a tennis shoe is courting disaster.

There are many types of quick release stirrups on the market ranging anywhere from the most common “peacock” stirrup to those on hinges and other more elaborate designs. They start at prices as reasonable as $30 to $40 and go up from there depending on how camouflaged you want the safety features. I think the point is you still can be a slave to fashion and have the protection a safety stirrup offers so vanity is no longer an excuse. All of my students use some sort of safety “quick release” stirrup as well as helmets no matter what their age. Why take the chance of going without? In my mind, it’s just stupid!

I hope that people will stop being ignorant about this and start realizing how important a simple safety feature can be and that I’ll never witness again the sight of a little child being thrown from their pony only for it to be standing there at the jump still attached to the child by their foot hung up in the stirrup. As far as I’m concerned it should be a requirement for any junior just as is now the proper regulation helmets.

Wake up people and especially parents! Do the right thing and put you and your children into proper and safe equipment. Be determined to never ride again without those safety stirrups. I will guarantee there will be a time that you will be grateful you went to the expense and relatively little effort!