up or down for the stirrup bar

Stirrup bars – keep them up or down?

YES is the answer to that question! All sarcasm aside, there’s no correct answer. Both positions have benefits and drawbacks, it’s up to you to decide.


stirrup bar in the down or open slot


When the stirrup bar is UP, the stirrup leather is “locked” and, in theory, not going anywhere.


  • This is great if you are so inclined to want your stirrups to remain with you as your horse carries on. This is NOT great if you take a tumble towards Earth and your foot gets stuck, that stirrup is not going anywhere and you risk being dragged. Some horses will run away, and you will be right there, too. I have heard that some people like to keep the stirrup bars UP when the saddle is being transported or packed away so the leathers and irons don’t fall away.


When the stirrup bar is DOWN, the leather is free to release in an emergency situation.


  • It’s also free to release in a non-emergency situation. This equates to an “embarrassing situation” while in a clinic, in front of the judge, trying to impress your crush. I can deal with embarrassing stuff, I can’t deal with emergency situations where I’m tangled in my tack. Most people prefer the stirrup bar in the DOWN position.


stirrup bar that is always open

Some stirrup bars don’t give you a choice – they are sort of both. In that case, never mind.


It’s always a good idea when cleaning your saddle to make sure that the hinge on the stirrup bar is in good working order.


  • Does it easily switch from up to down? Is the hinge too greasy? Is the stirrup bar rusty? Is the hinge stuck? Is the leather around the stirrup bar damaged or in good shape?


  • It’s an even better idea to check the stirrup bars before you swing a leg over to make sure it’s in the position that you like. I tend to prefer the stirrup bar to remain down for an easy release. You can also do a quick check to be sure the leather is as snug as possible before you start your ride.



stirrup bar in the open or down position

The safe way to do things – the stirrup bar is in the down position. You can see part of the hinge to the left of the stirrup leather.



What’s your preference? Stirrup bars up or down?