Finding the correct stirrup length is crucial to riding safely, having proper control over your horse, and keeping a good, balanced form. When you're riding, your ear, shoulder, hip, and heel should all be in alignment. If your stirrups are too long or too short, your heels will be too far forward or back.
However, is not a simple mathematical process. The length can also depend on your body conformation, your horse's barrel, the type of saddle you're using, what discipline you're performing, and your own preference. Many beginning riders need the extra security of a shorter stirrup.
With that in mind, pay attention to the way your leg hangs when you're on the horse. Are you consistently getting pinched? Are your knees knocking against the knee roll? Are you dropping your heel to get your knee in the right spot? Your stirrups are too short. Are you pointing your toe to stay in the stirrup? Is your foot consistently falling out? Your stirrup is too long.
The following methods are what many trainers use to judge stirrup length. Try one or all of them to determine yours.
But I'm extremely tall!
Method 1: Stirrup to Armpit
Stand next to the fender of your saddle. Using your forearm, place your hand to the stirrup bar. The end of the stirrup should end at your armpit. This method might need some adjustment once you mount.
Method Two: Stirrup to Ankle
Have someone eyeball this one for you. Once you're on your horse, put your leg straight down. The bottom of the stirrup should be even with your anklebone.
I'm the shortest person I know!
If your legs do not fit normal stirrups, you may need to order a pair that are shorter or have more length. Many of our manufacturers sell sets of fenders in different sizes specifically for this purpose. Get your saddle's make and model handy and give us a call for some options.