Stirrup SOS

I might only be in my mid-30’s, but I’m pretty sure I have the knees of a 65 year old. Last week at work I sat down briefly at my desk to write an email, perched with one leg bent under my butt, and when I went to stand up and walk away, the damn thing wouldn’t even straighten all the way. There’s no way I would pass a flexion. I’m like 5/5 lame. Almost 30 years of riding (and far more running that I ever intended for my life) have taken their toll on my joints.

HollyHillXC18
It’s fun though, so whatevs.

Leg issues aren’t new to me. I have compartment syndrome too, which has always caused problems with my ankles. Wide footbed irons helped that a lot, even though I’m pretty sure it will never go away entirely. But over the past 6 months to a year, now that we’ve been jumping bigger fences on a regular basis, and I’m spending more time doing conditioning work (which equals more time spent in my jump saddle, with short stirrups, often in a half seat), my knees are starting to suffer. They’re definitely sore after jump schools especially, which makes me think that impact has something to do with it.

I’ve been using my Lorenzinis for a few years now with no complaints, but now, with my knees aching pretty regularly, I’m wondering if there’s something else out there that might help. Especially on the shock absorption front. Stirrup technology has come so far. Of course, there are also now approximately one million options to try to wade through. It’s a little overwhelming, trying to figure out which ones might work the best.

Here’s what I need:

  • Wide footbed
  • Extremely grippy. Like… for as decently grippy as the Lorenzini’s cheesegrater footbed is, I want something grippier than that.
  • Whatever will help my knees. Guessing some shock absorption maybe?

Here’s what I want:

  • Navy. Like for real everything should come in navy. I can live without it, but big bonus points if they’re navy.
  • Some kind of safety feature. Not a must have, but it would be nice.

I’ve already tried MDC, Jin, and Royal Rider. They were all fine, but I like the Lorenzinis more than any of those. Right now I’m most intrigued by a few in particular…

Tech Stirrups Venice

Big perk about these is that I can buy them from Riding Warehouse. I always prefer to buy stuff from them whenever possible. They are stupid expensive though, and don’t come in navy (big sads). They seem to get really good reviews though, from what I’ve seen.

Freejump Classic

I was not the biggest fan of the design of Freejump’s SoftUp Pro model, but this Classic model seems more my style. I’m definitely intrigued by the studded footbed. I can’t really find anyone that’s using them yet though, and again they’re pretty expensive. But they do come in navy AND I can also buy them from Riding Warehouse.

Flex-On

FlexOn

The eventer in me is screeching in delight at all the options you can get with these things (whoever decided to put a configurator on the website, they need a hefty raise). You can pick your colors, you can pick your grips, and you can pick whether you want a flat or inclined footbed. The shock absorption is supposed to be excellent. In theory, I love these. They would also be the cheapest of these three options. But I don’t really know very many people using them yet, nor have I seen them in person, nor can I really find any reviews of them, so they remain a bit of an enigma. They also don’t have the added safety features of the first two.

These definitely aren’t the only 3 options I’m looking at… I’m still perusing what’s out there, keeping my eyes peeled. These are the 3 leaders at the moment though. Does anyone have any of these? Or is there something else you can recommend for me to check out? My knees thank you.

34 thoughts on “Stirrup SOS

  1. I’m not if any help since I just have plain stirrup irons right now, but I am interested in the Tech irons, I’m just not sure I can afford them. The tack store where I work doesn’t carry them, but we’re an ERS distributor, so we could order them. Issue is that even our cost is $200 and that’s likely outside of my budget.

    Free Jump stirrups have always looked cool to me, but just a bit too out there looks wise for my taste.

    I have crappy ankles, but luckily my knees are ok. Back in the day I had the Sprenger jointed irons and they caused my knees to hurt a lot, so I eventually got rid of them.

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  2. Keep me posted! I am in a similar situation as well. I have MS and I’m on the hunt for the perfect stirrup as well. Grippy, shock absorbing for my bum knees and supportive for my nerve damaged muscles. I’m currently looking at MDC, but the Flex-On is intriguing.

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  3. Oh those classic free jumps…. I have always found “springy” stirrups to mess with my balance really badly, so have stayed about way from. The free jump classics tho… those are tempting. 😉 Stirrup Review series? For us cripples?

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  4. I’m interested in the Flex-Ons too. I have a bad left foot, thanks to breaking it twice. Any anything that helps in shock absorption is a big plus in my book. Interestingly enough, the cheese graters on my RRs were too grippy and I had to swap them out for the rubber, which works better for me.

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  5. I still love my MDCs you are responsible for making me buy 🙂 But i have horrible knees too and if i ever start riding again would be interesting to see what you end up with. The MDCs definitely help me with the pains I had though, my right foot does have a tendency to go numb after a while tho (in any stirrup) if I am trail riding but I think that is me not the stirrups. Anyway yes you need to try ALL three of the ones above and let us know what you think 😉 snap to it 🙂

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  6. I have horrible joints, as well. Hips and knees have been shot for years. I see the first two choices have a quick release mechanism which I find interesting. I would not want that to malfunction somewhere out on cross country; but if I needed it to release, I am sure that would be a lifesaver. Although in my 50+ years of riding, I can probably count on one hand where I saw someone dragged after falling off. I have Herm Sprenger Jointed Stirrups. I hated them when I first rode in them. I felt unstable. As my hip pain progressed, I tried them again and they allowed me to keep riding. I only have them on my jump saddle as it does not seem to bother me to ride in regular irons in my dressage saddle probably due to the fact that there is not as much impact (or possibly that I hate to ride in my dressage saddle and hardly ever practice in it!).

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  7. I love my Free Jump Pros, so I imagine the Classics could only go up from there? From what I’ve seen/read they have all the good features of the originals and they made them stronger at the core and this design makes it easier to run up your stirrups (a minor inconvenience of the original Freejumps). I may be a little (okay a lot) biased, but I vote you try the Freejumps.

    Also, it’s worth trying Millbrook leathers as well imo. I realized a lot of my knee pain came from the instability of my leathers always twisting and jerking my knees around, and the leathers made leaps and bounds of difference. Plus they usually have killer Black Friday deals, so it’s the perfect time to try them 👌

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  8. I have flex-ons. Ordered them from Europe 3 yrs ago. I have bad ankle from a fall yrs ago and now arthritic knee on the other side. I love the flex-ons-no more pain. I used to get off and not be able to stand because of knee pain. Didn’t think MDCs helped much. I also have free jumps and they are nice but don’t have the give of flex-ons plus they scratch the saddle.

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  9. I’ve tried a lot with my old leg injury, nothing beat the Lorenzinis. Obviously haven’t tried these new ones though. I found free jumps so heavy, that turned me off.

    What about looking at your insoles in your boots to add absorption?

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  10. The freejumps have always freaked me out after seeing a rider catch the lip of the stirrup on the leather. I think it was a beezie… Maybe not. But it was an unfortunate incident, even if a fluke, I nope them.

    The flex on I think look interesting. I also have wanted a brand called nu angle. From South Africa. I think they are just angled more than anything though.

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  11. People have gone crazy for the flex-ons here in Ontario. Seems like every second H/J trainer around here is sponsored by them. I know that doesn’t say anything about the quality lol…but they certainly are the fad up here.

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  12. I too have been thru many stirrups to try and find something that keeps my position secure but doesn’t leave me feeling broken when I dismount. I initially really liked the Lorenzinis, especially for galloping. After a while I felt like they made things worse because I couldn’t flex down thru my heel when jumping. I also found them too grippy. I find all the flex type stirrups really mess with my jump position. For the last 6 months I’ve been really happy with the Acavallo Opera Stirrups. They have good grip without making me feel trapped. They are very lightweight which I think makes it easier for me to keep my leg in a place because I don’t feel like I’m trying to push them forward. The foot bed is just wide enough to give nice support in a gallop position but leaves enough space that I can still flex down when jumping. Alas, no navy.

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  13. From the engineer side, the safety stirrups are prone to fail more than the standard stirrups so plan on replacing them, Free jump only tests a million cycles which a pro can go through in a year, casual riders are 3-7 years depending. So be prepared to replace them regularly, really any plastic stirrups should be monitored for the same reason, maybe the same time you replace your helmet. I really like the last ones, like really really like. Such neat, much cool.

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    1. I seem to replace mine at least that often anyway, so not an issue for me. Although my composite Royal Riders are now like 11 years old and still kicking (on my dressage saddle, anyway)!

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  14. I feel so uncool, I have like $15 fillis irons with the basic plastic footbeds (that are literally falling apart). I’m scared to try anything fancier because im 100% sure I’ll really like literally anything else more than this, but reeeeally don’t want to spend money on that right now haha. I’m fine with losing my stirrups every once in a while, it’s FINE.

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  15. I had the MDC Super Sport (wide tread, twist top, flex sides) and got rid of them as I realized 1. they were contributing to my knee problems and 2. they were SO heavy! I hate the super light stirrups that bounce around when you lose them, but I ended up with Free Jump Pros. They have enough weight to not bounce around and I love them. I am never stiff or sore anymore. I was interested in the Flex Ons and found a place in Europe that offers them on trial but I can’t remember the name of the site. There just weren’t enough reviews of them and I was worried they would give too much and cause issues like the flexible sided irons.

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  16. I’m afraid of new things so not much help regarding your needs in most of your wants department. The wide foot beds don’t work for me because my feet are really small. Pretty much my whole foot winds up on the stirrup. I like a little weight to my stirrup, so I’m not interested in any of the aluminum or plastic options. I have stupid knees too though, and the bendy ones have been wonderful for me. Not the ultra bendy ones like the Herm Sprenger, but the cheaper ones with just one joint. So they only flex back and forth, don’t twist if that makes sense. Not sure if they even make wide bed bendy stirrups though. I think the last one you posted looks really interesting with the shock absorbers. I hope someone has them and can report back.

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  17. Seriously consider trying the FreeJump SoftUp Pros. The Classics are nice, but they don’t put your stirrup at a 90 degree angle to where it’s automatically sitting in the correct position for your foot. This made a WORLD of difference to me for knee and ankle pain. I started with the adjustable MDCs and worked my way up to the FreeJumps. I used to by a die hard Herm Sprenger user. Now….you can pry those FreeJumps out of my cold dead fingers.

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  18. I’m gonna throw out a different option. I have a really bad ankle and a knee that gets screwed up from protecting the ankle. I really like my icelandic stirrups. The main part of them solving things for me is the 90 degree turn in the stirrups. I finally added stirrups turners to my endurance stirrups when I was doing endurance with the mule and it was incredibly helpful. You’d be surprised how much of the knee pain may be coming from the torque on your legs from the stirrup leathers. The partially twisted Herm Sprengers didn’t help me, but the full 90 of the icelandics really helped. There’s an MDC that goes 90degrees and might work. I’ve never tried them though. The icelandics cost like 50$ and you can add the metal pads. My husband has the tech stirrups and loves them, but he has no joint issues. They don’t really have any spring to them or anything that would really help for joint. Super safe though.

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  19. The tech stirrups come with a shock absorbing footbed option as well.

    I haven’t brought any Vencies in, but a test rider on the regular Athena jump model attests that there is more give. Not terribly specific, but helpful? I’m not sure.

    Vencie Light Plus would be the model with added shock absorbtion.

    The grip on these is insane from a static holding them in hand perspective. Theyre sharp. I could see them wrecking shit.

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  20. I never knew there were so many options for stirrups! At 24 my knees have been starting to give me some issues over the last couple of years. I love jumping and mostly just do it for fun, no idea if I will ever get back in the show arena. I guess it would be good for me to check some of these out as well. Please write an update when you try out some New stirrups as I am totally knew to anything other than iron!

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