Ok, I feel a little silly, but I have never asked before and no one has ever told me so, I am calling on the wisdom of CotH...
How should a stirrup fit your foot? BY that I mean what determines whether you ride in a 4 1/4" or a 4 1/2" etc? I know some of the super obvious stuff- your foot needs to be able to come out of the stirrup, but can anyone enlighten me on the finer points of deciding which stirrup size is right for you?
I recently rode in a pair of smaller irons than what I normally ride in, that also happened to be the flexible irons. I liked how they fit around my foot, but I didn't like the flexibility as I have a tendency to overflex my ankles (put them down too far- it is possible and rather painful and puts more stress on the joints. Not good for my arthritis; I was hoping the flexibility would be easier on my knees and they might have been if it weren't for than ankle issue) I liked that my foot seemed less likely to twist around than they do in my stirrups. I have no idea how I got my stirrups- somehow they just came to be my stirrups and I have always ridden in that size for who knows what reason.
So, is it bad to ride in a smaller iron? Am I making things up, or is there really a difference in feel from one size to the next?
TIA- this is one of those things I feel like I should know, but I don't, so I'm finally asking
Honestly I don't think it matters. I think I have a couple pairs of each and I don't really notice a difference. Also, I have knee issues, and my royal riders seem to really help with that. Not sure why, but I remember a reading a thread about it a while ago. Maybe it's the wider foot bed. And if you don't want to dish out the money for RRs, there are "knock off" ones I've ridden in on a friend's saddle and they feel exactly the same.
I think I remember reading somewhere that the general rule of thumb is 1/2 inch on each side of your foot? I usually ride in 4 3/4 or 4 1/2 and I have a pretty normal width foot. It does leave plenty of room. On, and I find I can feel only a very slight difference when riding in a significantly smaller iron. I would say if its more comfortable for you and does not affect your ability to get your foot out, go with the smaller one.
My trainer sat in my saddle recently and remarked about how small my irons were--they are 4 1/2. I don't think they are particularly small, they feel just right to me. I used to have a pair of huge stubben irons 5" and I felt like they didn't offer as good consistent balance, they could sort of tip left or right. I replaced them with smaller stirrups and I prefer them greatly. The difference isn't huge, but it makes a difference to me.
I've always been taught that you measure the bottom of your boot, where the ball of your foot would be, then add an inch to that for the irons. My boots are 3.5 inches, my irons are 4.5 inches. I think that goes along with the "half inch on each side" rule. Love the way my irons fit, I think it's a pretty accurate guideline.
My foot is narrow, but it is still in a normal size 8 boot, and I hate riding in anything bigger than a 4 1/4". My trainer made me get rid of my 4" even though my foot was able to slide out easily. I really want to try some of the composite stirrups just to see what they feel like. I HATE the HS 4-way or whatever they are called. My heel gets so deep that it slides out. Go with what is comfortable and still reasonable.
Thanks- I used to have 5" quick outs- those were huge!! Hated them! So I got 4 1/2" regular irons- don't remembr why 4 1/2" as I said. I have trouble with one stirrup in particular twisting around , it seems like it happens in both my paddock boots and my tall boots, and I can't figure out if its something I'm doing or if it has to do with the stirrup being able to wiggle around too much. It drive me nuts though, as having my iron in the wrong place across my foot going into a large fence is honestly a worse feeling to me than no stirrup at all, so I will commonly just pull my foot out. It may be caused by nodules (a swollen bump basically) that come and go in my feet (from RA), that may be contributing to it as it is kind of like having a largish rock in your boot...but I can't exactly get rid of them permanantly so I need to figure out how to make it work. Hmmm....I will have to measure my boots and see what that tells me. Thanks for the info everyone!