This article has been written by @saddleseekshorse
My interest in safety stirrups skyrocketed this summer after learning about an accident in which the rider got caught, foot in stirrup and the result was a tragedy. It shook me. I knew peacock irons were a thing for children–you know, those half metal stirrup irons where the outside part is like a big rubber band. I wasn’t sure if safety irons existed for adults, so I began to research. Flex-On’s Safe-On stirrups sprang onto my radar, and I knew I had to find out more.
Thank you to Flex-On for partnering with me to spread the word safety stirrups.
Before I share my experience riding in my Flex-On Safe-On stirrups for a little over a month, I’ll tell you what makes these irons special. These traits jumped out at me early on in my search.
What I liked before I even rode in the Flex-On Safe-Ons is that it is a completely enclosed iron. The side branch is made to pop out from a screw should an emergency occur. These irons seem to be extremely safe in their design. When I looked at other safety irons on the market, the majority of them have an open space that allows for the rider’s foot to release should she get caught (literally) in a dangerous situation.
***Heads up! This is the first installment in a safety stirrup series. I have more brands to feature in coming weeks and months. Consider joining my email list so you’ll be in the loop regarding future blog posts on this important topic.***
I felt skittish about any opening since I picture all the things that can go wrong if an iron with an opening gets tangled up on a rein, a fence railing, a piece of someone else’s tack from a nearby horse. That will never happen with these Safe-On stirrups.
Next, the irons are made with features of the modern irons used for sport. We’ve come a long way from having the fillis iron as our only option, and the Safe-On stirrups embrace innovation with their extra wide footbed, grippy options and customization possibilities.
To summarize: I liked that the irons were closed on all sides and possessed the more modern features that make for rider comfort.
Now here’s the funny/embarrassing part of the story.
LOOK FOR THE L AND R ON THE FLEX-ON IRONS!
I had a photoshoot set up with the fabulous Lady Photographic to get gorgeous pics of my new irons. I had ridden in them a few times prior to the shoot. They were great!
I felt like my foot was very secure in them. I felt like they even helped promote a proper lower leg position. I have one weak leg and frequently during lessons my trainer will remind me to get that one leg in the right spot with my heel down. When using these irons I never heard that admonition and I thought, “Wow! My lower leg is so still and these irons are really helping me to have a solid base. These things are magic.”
Well, we got several gorgeous photographs and when I glanced through them after the shoot I was super excited.
However, a few days later, I rode again and when I dismounted and was going to run my irons up, I realized the angle of the foot bed was going in the wrong direction. This was confusing because the safety screw for the iron was on the outside. I looked up pictures on the Flex-On Instagram account. Yep, the screw should be pointed to the outside.
Then I noticed an R on the iron.
It dawned on me that meant “right.” The company is French and the irons are made in France so I tried to figure it out, “Can this be R for ‘right?’ What’s ‘right’ in French?”
Now I don’t speak French, but I’ve traveled to France a few times, so I was legitimately wracking my brain to see if I ever knew the French words for left and right. (Are you embarrassed for me yet?)
I looked at the other iron and sure enough, there was an L. And I felt like the L was for “loser” or “lame.” Oh my word! They were designed to be idiot-proof when you put them on your leathers. Well, uh, yeah. Lol! As it turns out, I posted this on Instagram and had more than a handful of comments of riders with irons or other pieces of tack being used the wrong way and they didn’t realize it either. One gal said she rode in her stirrups wrong for six months! So I felt better knowing I’m not alone.
Anyway, I navigated getting the Flex-On stirrups into the proper position and I like them even more! Can you believe it?
About the footbeds. I tend to get weird intermittent pain on my right ball of my foot (I think it’s from years of swing dancing and turning/spinning on the right ball of my foot wearing thin leather-soled dance shoes). I have not noticed any foot pain after riding with these irons.
The other feature I’m a huge fan of is the grip of the footbed. My foot feels extremely stable in these irons–like I can’t fathom losing an iron riding with these.
A few other aspects worth mentioning are the stirrups are built with a shock-absorbing system, and made with environmentally-sound polyamide. The irons contain a flexible steel reinforcement and are easy to clean with just water.
If you scroll back up you’ll notice even though my heel is down, the angle is going the wrong direction–that was my user error and the irons are now situated the correct way on my saddle. And if you scroll all the way back up to the first image, you can pretty clearly see the L (that was a picture I took after I learned my mistake).
MULTIPLE CUSTOMIZATION OPTIONS FOR FLEX-ON STIRRUPS
Another fancy aspect: there are several ways these irons can be customized. I think eventers and show jumpers with personal color schemes will be excited. You can choose the color of the stirrup iron frame (mine are black but they come in navy, green, red, even white), the footbed color and the shock absorber colors.
Also, you can customize the footbed to have an incline (like mine), be flat and there’s even an endurance choice.
TO SUM IT ALL UP REGARDING SAFE-ON STIRRUPS
These irons are extremely comfortable and even though they’re safety irons, their profile is similar to a regular modern stirrup iron. The closed design for the safety branch is smart. I have demonstrated for friends how the safety feature works by pulling the iron apart. I had to take a good tug (it won’t come apart easily, but it will come apart when necessary) and it was very simple to remove the screw, insert the branch back onto the footbed and then screw the iron back together.
I love the irons and plan to ride in them for everyday. I’ve jumped in them once and they were perfect. Now I just need to find out if they will pass the dress code for my ultra conservative hobby of fox hunting. We ride in sunglasses and some of us in field boots here in California. I’m hoping a safety iron will be acceptable for safety’s sake.
You should definitely check out the Flex-On Safe-On irons. You will have fun designing your own customized stirrups on their website. It’s like Minecraft for equestrians.
Visit Flex-On and play with all the color options. In so doing you might just find your new favorite stirrups.
Thanks for reading and tally ho!