I recently decided it was time for new stirrups when I found myself struggling over fences. My form was always “okay” (getting that perfect fold at the hips is my problem; I’m long in the body and long in the arms) but after I picked up a rockin’ new jumping saddle, it was obvious something wasn’t right with my form more than ever. My lower leg was super secure, and not budging an inch over the fence. So why was I have trouble with my upper body?
Chatting with a friend who manages an A-barn outside of Spruce Meadows, she pretty much has seen it all and when I described my problem, she recommended trying the Wildkart Jin stirrups, manufactuered in Italy. I also had a pair of MDC Super Sport stirrups which I received as a gift last year, so decided to put them both to the test for a little comparison/review!
RIDER: 5’10”, long in the body. Lower leg secure, upper body unbalanced and struggling to fold/give enough through the arms. No problems with ankle/knee/lower back pain.
MDC SUPER SPORT STIRRUPS
These stirrups are pretty sporty looking. They are designed in the United States and feature a wide footbed, grippy metal pad and flex at the joint. They also have a patented adjustable top, that allows the stirrup to fall at the traditional angle (flat against the horse’s side when left hanging), a pivot at a 45º degree angle, and then pivot again to a 90º degree angle (perpendicular to the horse’s side).
The adjustable top is certainly secure. I played around with the click-y top over fences, and then tried them at the 90º degree position doing dressage. The amount of “bend” in the joint over fences felt pretty comfortable, and I know many riders love jointed stirrups for the relief it can provide to the knee/ankle/etc. areas.
The weight of the stirrup was certainly robust; I wouldn’t call it heavily weighted but it’s a substantial amount of metal for sure. Over fences, I couldn’t tell much of a difference between these stirrups and my Herm Sprenger 4-F System Stirrups that I had been using for the last 5 years. I did enjoy the wide tread that made me feel like I really had a solid connection into the stirrup.
On the flat, I clicked the angle to 90º degrees and really liked the feel it gave me. Under the tutelage of a classical dressage instructor who asked me to reposition in my leg in a very different place than I was used to, putting the stirrup in this position made my leg lie correctly against my horse with more ease.
WILDKART JIN STIRRUPS
No doubt that these stirrups are pretty recognizable in the show ring, and have been around for a few years now. They come in a variety of colours and can be custom engraved if you wish.
My first ride in these stirrups was at a cross country school with my coach after I had a three-week absence from the saddle (my horse was kept in work while I was away on vacation), so I was a bit nervous how they would feel. There wasn’t a remarkable change in my form, however they gave me the feel of standing on solid ground, even over fences. This made it super easy to work on my upper body and what my arms were doing.
I didn’t have any problems losing the stirrup (something that has been reported by some riders due to the light weight), and selected the conservative black colour since I don’t step into the equitation ring (but maybe should to try and improve my form ha ha!).
I haven’t tried these stirrups on my dressage saddle, but if anybody uses them for dressage then throw up your opinion in the comments section! I’d be interested to hear what others thought of them for the flat.
There were some pretty big differences between the stirrups. The original Wildkart Jin stirrups are not jointed (but apparently the newer Kinko model has a slight incline to the footbed to help keep your heel down) and super lightweight. The MDC Super Sport stirrups are heavier with an impressive, secure grippy footbed and the option of adjusting the stirrup’s angle for the rider’s maximum comfort.
Since my primary concern was more aesthetic, I will keep riding with the Jin stirrup over fences and see if my coach notices more improvements over the next few months. I love the MDC’s on my dressage saddle and will play around with the angles to try and maximize my lower leg position.
If you have any pain in your joints or numbness in your foot while riding, definitely take MDC up on their free trial offer. They also offer a consultation service for riders. The Jin stirrups are pretty popular right now, so if you buy them and don’t like them, you can easily sell them on a Facebook group like English Tack Trader or on Ebay for close to your purchase price.
Love/hate your current stirrups? Share your story in the comments below!