How To Adjust the Stirrups on Your Saddle

Knowing how to adjust the stirrups on your saddle is an important part of horsemanship.  If your stirrups are not adjusted right it will throw off your balance and make it harder to control your horse properly.  Because balance is very important when riding, you want to be able to adjust your stirrups to help you achieve your best balance possible.  While adjusting stirrups feels awkward at first, with practice it will become a part of your routine.

You can adjust your stirrups either from the ground or when mounted on your horse.  If you are adjusting your stirrups from the ground, the first step is to locate your stirrups.  They will be on each side of your saddle and this is where your feet will sit when you are riding.  You want your stirrups long enough to be comfortable, but short enough to give you optimal control over your horse.

In order to keep a slight bend in your knees, the stirrup should sit right below your ankle when you are mounted.  When you first adjust your stirrups on the ground, place your hand where the stirrup leather attaches to the saddle.  Stretch the stirrup until it reaches from the saddle to your armpit.  This will come very close to where you need the stirrups to be and any small adjustments can be made when you are mounted.

Once you are mounted you can adjust your stirrups by making sure that if your legs are hanging out of the stirrups they should be slightly below your ankle.  By standing in your saddle you can check the width of the space between you and your saddle.  There should be a roughly 4” space.  If you are a beginning rider, it would be safer to shorten your stirrups until you are more experienced.  If you find that your feet are falling out of your stirrups when your feet are down, they are definitely too long.

Once you know the length of the stirrups, locate the sliding buckle on the inside of the stirrup leather.  Pull the leather that attaches your stirrup by pulling the lower end up towards the saddle.  When you have the stirrups adjusted comfortably, slide the clip back onto the leather to lock the leather in place.  Some saddles have buckles that adjust the stirrup leathers, with this type of saddle, pull the leathers where you need them and refasten the buckles.  Place your foot in the stirrup and press down gently to set the stirrups after adjusting them.  If you need to lengthen your stirrups pressing down with your foot will help move the stirrups into position.

While it seems like a simple thing, having correct length in stirrups is really very important in horsemanship.  And since there won’t always be someone to help you with your horse, it is important to know how to adjust the stirrups on your saddle yourself.  Always remember when riding to never put your whole foot deep in the stirrup.


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