“What The…” Wednesday: Stirrups

My history of buying saddles from overseas (England, France, and Germany to date) has led me to be a member of some pretty damn random facebook groups. Mainly tack groups based in France, where all the good fancy stuff comes from. Sometimes I see interesting things in these groups… things that are new and different, or haven’t caught on in the US yet. We tend to be a few seasons behind them, and way more conservative in general.

Image result for french fancy gif
me, at most places in Paris

This thing I saw last week though… it had me doing a serious WHAT THE all over the internet, trying to figure out what it was all about. Behold the K’Vall stirrup.

Image result for kvall etriers

Apparently I am super late to the game on this and these have been around for a long time, because in my research I found people (Europeans, natch) talking about them as long ago as 2009. They seem to have never really gained any traction here aside from a handful of endurance riders, which I guess makes sense.

My first thought was that these things look unsafe, although further research revealed that they do have release mechanisms built in at the heel area similar to a peacock stirrup iron. And then I thought it must feel like you’re standing on an elliptical on a pair of skis. And then I was trying to figure out the biomechanics, and how they would actually work in different scenarios, especially in eventing where we need to be able move around so much. I can see them being more stable in general, but I don’t see how you’d be able to get your heel down for added stability in sports like jumping. Granted, if you’re essentially standing on a big ass platform under your entire foot, maybe you don’t need to?

Most of the reviews you see for them are pretty positive, but then again there aren’t really that many to begin with. I can’t get over how weird the whole thing looks. Guessing it’s next to freaking impossible to lose a stirrup, since you’re strapped in and buttoned down. How easy are they to get out of, if you need to dismount quickly? I have a hard time thinking these would be competition legal?

I think I’ll stick to my “regular” weird irons, Lorenzini and Royal Rider.

Anyone seen these before?




28 thoughts on ““What The…” Wednesday: Stirrups

  1. OMG i follow all your trends but if you buy those i might have to say no. HOW UGLY. But then again maybe it would stabilize me more HA HA HA

    the things you find. Never ever seen those! Thanks for sharing!


    1. I know! I mean… I know there’s that release mechanism on the back, but how does that really work if say your toe is still twisted up in the cage part? It freaks me out a bit.


  2. I am… fairly confused by this. I am not sure how you would “ground” this stirrup like we ground regular stirrups by putting our heels down. Again, probably fine for endurance or trail riders, but would be really odd feeling for jumping. Plus, putting your heel down puts your calf against your horse… I would love to ride in a set, just to wrap my head around how it would feel! hahah


  3. I feel like these would result in a lot of bracing/skiing around, since you have so much foot stabilized? But maybe I’m not interpreting them correctly. They sure seem like a broken ankle or drag hazard.


  4. My first thought is those would be a good adaptive stirrup for someone whose ankle is fused and needs the support. I’m not going to automatically dismiss them because of that. It appears they could be a very good device for the right person who has some physical limitations but still wants to continue to ride.

    I also ride in caged stirrups for trail since it lets me use a non-heeled shoe, especially in winter so that part doesn’t bug me and I have a pair of regular for non trail or endurance events.


    1. I agree, I also thought they were either adaptive stirrups, or they look similar to a “child’s stirrup” I once saw on a rustic donkey saddle. (It was basically just a board along the donkey’s side). Easier for someone who doesn’t know how to properly put just the ball of foot into the stirrup.


  5. I’m not against innovation, but some of the gizmos and gadgets that are becoming popular (cough*equiband*) it really just seems to be dumbing down riding, not improving it. Heaven forbid people just work hard and achieve shit. Nope, gotta have the 21st century fixit. Maybe i’ll invent a spring that pushes people’s butts out of the saddle so they don’t have to post.



  6. The comparison of the riders position when jumping around the 14 minute mark of that video does nothing to convince me that these help/improve riding. Give me a bigger sample size with more riders on different horses over many more jumps. I know how differently my position can be from one jump attempt to the next, so comparing one rider on one horse over one jump a handful of times (it looks like just 2x, but I’ll give them benefit of the doubt here) is CRAP science.


  7. Those are so ugly, they’d have to turn me into McLain Ward and my horse into a unicorn for me to wear them! Have you seen BUA saddles? I discovered them a few days ago and am still scratching my head about them…either an amazing innovation or the biggest saddle gimmick ever. http://www.buasaddles.com/


    1. I just clicked that link, and every single picture on their site has the riders leg back and heel up… Definitely doesn’t make me want that saddle! Though it looks like a squishy couch.


  8. Oddly enough, I have tried these. Got to ride one of those equisizers (the robot horses). It was very awkward at first! But after a while it got comfortable. The first thing I wanted to do was push my foot against it which pushed me out of the saddle. After some serious rethinking on my part I was able to just rest my foot on it and it did get better. I don’t recommend jumping on a robot horse but it made balancing over fences a little easier because the base I was built on was bigger that the traditional stirrup pad. To use these properly you have to use more of biomechanics approach versus a traditional heels down approach. They were awful to get in and out of! It was cool to try but not something that I would ride in normally.


  9. I have seen something similar at a clinic before. She does biomechanics stuff and uses them to help riders find their feet and not brace against the stirrups.

    They weren’t suggested for every day riding, but as something to help rider body awareness.


  10. Looks like a ski boot skeleton. 🙂

    I’ve thought about a toe piece on English stirrups for a while, for the same function as Western tapaderos. Keep the foot from going through. Even brush off some flags at the skinnies.


  11. There is actually a tiny amount of precedent for them. Some cultures have had stirrups that look more like slippers than we have evolved to. The Japanese in particular have a style like that as you can see in this set from the Met: https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/35376

    Though, granted, no one else that I’ve seen has been dumb enough to attach extra straps to the back. That makes my skin crawl to look at.


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