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Are your stirrups too long? Are they too short? What actually is the right length for our stirrups?

In today’s video, I’ll give you both the simple answer to this, and a few easy tips to determine your stirrup length.

The full answer to what is the right stirrup length is a bit more complex as it will vary depending on what you’re doing, the saddle that you’re riding, and the activity and discipline that you’re doing with your horse.

Stirrups provide more stability, mobility, and balance as we ride. Their history is an interesting one, as they are an invention that spread through warfare, with the mounted groups that had stirrups having a distinct advantage over those that did not.

The first stirrups were believed to be a wooden L shaped invention, originating in India, and becoming more similar to today’s stirrups through the first iron stirrups used in the time of Ghengis Khan and his Mongol armies.

Stirrups now come in many different sizes, shapes, and materials and they make our riding easier regardless of which discipline we ride.

But how much our stirrups help us depends on how we use them, and that starts with their length.

Watch the video below to learn how to adjust your stirrups to the correct length.

To learn more about stirrups, check out this video on where to place your foot in the stirrup.

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Comments

68 Responses

    1. Hi Kristine, I was a lifelong hunter rider until last year when I decided to move into the jumper ring. My best piece of advice is to use the colors of the jumps to remember the order and I find that only learning one course at a time works best for me. If you have the advantage of being able to walk the course that can also be helpful!

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  1. That was really really helpful and I would say new information in some parts. If you could make a video on something called “posting 2-point” and jumping from the trot next, that would be great. I am asked to do posting 2-point for a few strides when I am jumping from the trot as a beginner in jumping lessons. I am not totally sure how to do it. If you could help that would be great…thank you.

  2. Size of stirrup. I always have trouble with narrow stirrups. I also like the wider platform on stirrups for mounting gives a more secure feeling

    1. Hi Gary, that would definitely depend on the size of your foot! You want to have enough space on either side of the foot so that it isn’t as tight of a fit for your foot for safety reasons 🙂

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  3. Great presentation. This is the first time I learned on folding the iron up one time to measure each side for equal length. Thank you

  4. This was super helpful! I would like to know if you should adjust the length of your stirrup depending on if you are using a close contact saddle or a regular one?

    1. Hi Mary, are you asking the difference between close contact and dressage?

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  5. I am a very experienced rider, but my performance has been compromised by arthritis. I had my knees replaced, but not before gaining a significant amount of weight due to inability to ride/walk/exercise. Now, at 73, I have the best horse I’ve ever had! But I am not doing him justice, due to fatness. Also, I tend to ride with very long stirrups. Any advice is appreciated. (Dressage, western, trails)

    1. Hi Toni, can you be a bit more specific about your question so I can direct you to the best resources for your needs?

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  6. I ride an d compete in Reined Cow Horse events. A video that address Western stirrup length would be good. I know the trick about the stirrup hitting at the middle or bottom of the ankle bone, but I do ride a bit shorter length in reining and cow work than in a longer trail ride.
    Thank you for all your wonderful videos! I sdo enjoy and learn from them!

    1. Hi Lisa, you can follow the same tips for length with western stirrups!

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  7. Hi Cali,

    I have a wintec pro stock saddle and I am using Webber’s for my stirrup . Can you tell me how I should measure for these? I’m at the last hole for adjustment and I feel they’re a bit long but the next size is too short.

    Ty!

    Sue

    1. Hi Sue, another tip is you can wrap your leathers around the stirrups and that can allow for leathers that are too long now to have more adjustment!

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  8. Thank you! The stirrup hint, folding it up as well as putting you fingers under the flap and stretching the leathers to your arm pit is good to know.

  9. I can’t use the ‘armpit’ method because, at the risk of sounding like an orangutan, my arms are longer than my legs! But I am going to try the ankle test when I get to the barn. Thank you!

  10. The stirrup “armpit” method has not worked well for me because my legs are much longer than my arms but thank you for reminding me to use the ankle test to check the stirrup length. As always, thank you for another great video!!

  11. Interesting I am always struggling to find the right length I use the fingertip armpit thing but then find they are still too short , one leg always feels too short even though it is the same as the other – I broke that leg some years ago and it is the weak leg So I usually end up dropping a hole or two once on board . I o my do flat work no jumping .

  12. Thank you so much for another amazing video! As an adult learning to ride, you have made such a positive influence on my life and the lives of my horses. People will ask how I know that and I say “I saw Callie do it on a CRK training video.”

    I love your courses and ur weekly videos.

    Do you have any interest on a horse nutrition video? I am considering a complete feed and any non sponsored information would be appreciated.

  13. Nice reminder of positioning in general. I am wondering if anyone has gone more in depth on the subject of stirrup bar position and angle, as well as saddle balance since these also often seem to change the dynamic of a appropriate stirrup length and body position. I often see people trying to compensate for an unbalanced saddle by shortening or lowering their irons in an attempt to keep their leg under them. Thanks

  14. WOW Callie! Great timing. I had a problem yesterday, because either I got stupid, or someone else used my saddle (very old Stuben dressage) and I noticed my stirrups were set to hole # 8 and hole #9!! You just explained so much, so now I can figure out where each stirrup is supposed to be for me! I thought they were supposed to be on hole #9, but when I set them there, I was uneven, so had to change them back. Yes, old stirrup leathers, combined with both legs probably are not the same length, are they?
    Thank you very much!!

    1. Debbie, rarely are we even on both stirrups so they may be stretched to two different lengths but the tips from this video should help you find the place where they are the same length 🙂

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  15. I have struggled with my stirrup length due to having such short legs. This was very helpful. Thanks for addressing it.

  16. Very helpful video on stirrup length. I occasionally will switch stirrup leathers to maintain even lengths and wear of both leathers too.
    Your videos are so helpful and reassuring to me.
    Thank you Callie!

  17. I learned a trick lately if you tend to lean on one side more than other. Swap your stirrup leathers each time you clean you saddle so they stretch evenly.

    1. That is a great tip for most riders since we are all just a little uneven 🙂

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  18. f your butt hurts at the end of a ride, you stirrups are too long. If you knees hurt, your stirrups are too short. If everything hurts, they are just right.

  19. Thank you Callie that helps a lot. Especially with the stretched leathers changing the length on either side of the saddle.

  20. Great video. Yesterday I had one stirrup moving under my leg occasionally (so my foot will go inside while trotting). Wss t sure why that happened. Is it too long?

  21. Another great video! Something that I struggle with in regards to stirrups is an old knee injury. I find that, ever since I got hurt, I need my stirrup to be a little shorter on that side. It can be really frustrating to find just the right length because it seems to be a matter of millimetres!

    1. A hole puncher might be your saving grace for that, as long as they are your own stirrups 🙂

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  22. Extremely helpful. I have always wanted to know for sure what the correct stirrup length is correct. Also, when someone else is riding my horse and I have needed to adjust my stirrup length, I am always challenged to get it back to where is is correct for me when I use the saddle again. Thank you!!!! Love the easy tips

  23. Excellent information! Thank you! I would like to see guidance on saddle fit from both the horse’s perspective and the rider’s

  24. Hi Callie! Thanks for the tip to check that both stirrups are the same length. Will definitely use it. Have been trying to go by feel and actually have the stirrups at different holes. This will help to make sure they are the same.
    Adelle

    1. Adelle, glad you enjoyed that tip, it is a great one to know for adjusting stirrup leathers that have been unevenly stretched out!

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  25. Hi, I live in Melbourne, Australia and because we’re in lockdown at the moment, I’ve finally found the time to go back through the e-mails and watch your videos. Thanks Callie, they are really well presented and informative.
    Even though I don’t have any particular problems with any of my 4 horses (at the moment), it is always good to have existing ideas and methods reinforced and to hear of new ones.
    Thanks again.

  26. Learning for trail riding western saddle. I have considerable trouble mounting without mounting steps. I am 5’3″ , 71 years old with 2 hip replacements and a knee replacement. I am also have very short legs. I was able to mount up when I weighted 135 but have gained 30 lbs and now cannot mount from the ground. Our instructors insist on ground mount because while riding on the trail should we have to dismount , I wouldn’t have the luxury of mounting steps to remount . What exercises can I do to strengthen my left leg to give me the boost I need to mount from the ground. I am active otherwise and do a lot of walking and moderate hiking. I am very puzzled at my inability to mount a saddle from the ground. I thought it was like riding a bike…clumsy at first but doable!
    Thank you for all the great instructions and tips. It has helped me keep my seat and learn control and understanding. Any advise for mounting the saddle would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Hi Shane, thanks for your comment! I’m sorry to hear that you are having trouble with mounting, but I do have some resources I can recommend for you. First, we have this video on how to safely mount that might just be a good review with some good tips to help. Also, please check out our Yoga for Riders program to help you achieve more strength and flexibility in your legs so you can more easily swing them over the horse.

      Hope this helps!

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

    2. Shane. I’m 65, 6’ even, have bad hips and knees and I have trouble Mounting from the ground anything over 15HH. I could mount 16.2 bareback when I was 17. Alas no more. Which knee and hip is worse? Can you mount on the off side? Also you can purchase a small folding three legged stool that you pull up on a string and attach to to the saddle. I ride trails and have become proficient mounting from trailer fenders, truck bumpers, rocks, logs, stream banks, ditches and the high side of a slope. If you have a good patient horse you can find a place to mount. Riding a horse out of a ditch is almost as much fun as getting him to stand in one.

  27. This was great!! Would explain why I lost a stirrup after a little local jump competition! I didn’t adjust them for the class, good thing I can ride without them!! Looking forward to testing & checking them again as my saddle is quite old and broken in and the leathers very supple.. lovely video as usual… many riders from the United Arab Emirates follow you online and through YouTube – Roma

    1. This should definitely help Roma, especially if the jumps get any bigger 🙂

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

    1. Hi Mary, if you are comparing between close contact and a dressage saddle that answer is probably yes. Dressage saddles tend to have a straighter flap which requires the rider to have a longer leg and therefor a longer stirrup.

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  28. Thank you for the helpful information. I would like to see correct spacing of small jumps for me and my horse. I count the strides my horse has between jumps, but sometimes they are too short or too long. My horse has a big stride. A video would be great to see!

    Thank you.
    Barbara Beck

    1. Hi Barbara, thanks for your message! We cover that extensively in both our Building the Showjumper and Effortless Rider Jumping Course programs. Trot poles are spaced at about 4 1/2 feet apart and canter poles are usually set at 9 feet but when you are walking the strides between fences the average horse as a 12 foot stride. Although you might need to adjust based on your horse’s size and athletic ability.

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

    1. Hi Belinda, we don’t have many videos in Western tack because we simply don’t have any at the farm! Although, if you watch this video you’ll see that there isn’t too much that changes when we ride a different discipline 🙂

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  29. Thank you for the helpful videos on basics of saddle fit and stirrup length. Do you have any helpful advice for someone who continues to have a problem with “chair seat”.

  30. Excellent video as always, Callie. Thank you. I love the idea about folding the stirrup up as an additional check. I have been riding for only two years, have gained my ‘Galop 2’ in France, which means that I can jump low obstacles. At the moment I do these mostly at a trot but need to make the transition to doing them in canter. I learned to canter sitting in the saddle and making the transition by leaning slightly back and moving my outer leg back…any tips on how can I train myself to make that movement where, instead of leaning back, I am raised in the saddle (and clutching both the reins and the mane!!)

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