I have owned and loved my Royal Rider Flex stirrups for over 4 years now with no complaints. Before they came along I had used HS 6 way irons for 9 years, and didn’t realize until I tried the RR just how unstable the HS had made my leg. It was love at first ride and we’ve been together ever since.
Of course now USEF has come along and thrown a wrench in our romance by no longer allowing black stirrups in equitation classes. Really this wouldn’t normally effect me much… my equitation is more reminiscent of Quasimodo than Lillie Keenan, but I have had my eyeball on some medal classes lately. Ya know, personal challenges outside of one’s comfort zone (ie masochism and terrible ideas) and all that. Our local circuit offers a medal at both 2’6″ and 3′, both of which are appealing enough for me to at least want to try it out a few times. Hence that would mean new stirrups. If I’m being really honest I also can’t blame it 100% on USEF – I have to admit that I’m a little “over” the black plastic look. Metal is just so much prettier and more classic.
I have had ankle and knee issues my whole life, and even just 5 minutes in regular stirrups makes my ankles feel like they’re on fire and I slowly lose circulation to my feet. My flexibility is also not that great (read: horrendous). I’ve had a lot of success with the wide footbed and really like the more cheesegrater-esque pad for stability. What I’m not sure about is if the “flex” part of my Royal Riders or the super lightweight composite really makes a difference for me. Hence why I have been ogling new irons like an indecisive lunatic for months now.
I’ve narrowed it down to a few options. I wish some genius tack shop out there offered a trial program on things like this, so I could get two or three different pairs at a time and compare them. Alas that’s not the case so instead I will become maniacally obsessive and take forever to make up my mind. We’re lucky I haven’t made an excel spreadsheet yet. Here are the finalists I’ve got so far:
MDC S Classic
These have the features I’m really looking for: metal, wide footbed, lots of traction. Do I need the 45 degree “forward stirrup positioning technology”? Not a damn clue. Would I like the fact that these have a little more weight to them, like a traditional iron? Also not a damn clue. At $150 I’d call these moderately priced.
Also metal, also wide footbed, also lots of traction. But these are aluminum. Again – do I like how lightweight my Royal Riders are or do I prefer more weight? Still not a damn clue. I do like that the footbed is slightly angled, that sounds helpful. But at $265, these things are expensive.
If I were picking based solely on looks, these would be my winner. I think they’re pretty and sleek but still modern. Like the Jins these are lightweight aluminum. Still wide footbed, still super grippy. They ring in around $230… still crazy expensive, but not quite Jin crazy expensive.
Amidale Jin knockoffs
I’ve never been one to shy away from a good knockoff. These are also made of aluminum, have the wide footbed and lots of traction. I like that they offer a kind of a matte/flat metal coating so they aren’t super shiny. But as with all knockoffs the question is – are they comparable to the original or just a sad wannabe? The price on these is really appealing though at only $75.
Knowing me, I will waffle back and forth on this for months before eventually making up my mind. That’s my standard MO for any kind of “big” purchase. Then I’ll compulsively online shop to find the best price, so we’re not looking at any kind of immediate decision here. What do y’all think? What’s your favorite stirrup at the moment and why?