How To Put Stirrups On An English Saddle

Last Updated on March 10, 2022

If you’re looking to learn how to put on an English saddle, don’t worry, it’s easy once you know how. Here we will cover how to do this in simple steps. It is much easier to do than putting stirrups on a western saddle.

What You Need

You only need a few items to get started.

  • An English Saddle
  • A matching pair of stirrup leathers
  • A matching pair of English stirrups

How To Put Stirrups On An English Saddle

English saddles have a metal bar located under the saddle skirt. The skirt is a small flap of leather, located on each side of the saddle, at the top of the flap, and below the seat. The skirt protects the rider’s leg from the buckle of the stirrup leather.

First, thread the stirrup leather through the hole at the top of the stirrup. Let the stirrup fall roughly at the midway point of the leather and hold both ends in your hand. Check if you have a left or right stirrup.

While some stirrup styles don’t have specific left and right foot, many newer styles do. You will want to make sure you put the correct stirrup on the right side of the saddle. You will find an ‘R’ or ‘L’ on the stirrup itself.

Once you’ve determined what foot you have, lift the skirt and push the end of the stirrup leather under the bar, moving upwards. When enough leather comes out of the top, grab it and pull it through. Select a hole and do up the buckle.

When the buckle is secure, take hold of the section of leather closest to the saddle. Pull this part of the leather down so the buckle slides up under the skirt until it can’t anymore. You will hear a sound similar to a click.

Take a look and pull the stirrup forward into the bar so it is as close to the front of the stirrup bar as possible. One very important thing to note is that some saddles have a stirrup bar with a section that you can turn up. Putting this up might look like the sensible thing to do to keep the stirrup leather in place.

Important Safety Tip

However, never, ever put this part of the stirrup bar in an upward position. Doing this is actually a safety hazard. If you fall off and your foot gets stuck in the stirrup, you want the best chance of the stirrup leather sliding off the bar. There is little to no risk of the stirrup leather slipping off the bar when you are in the saddle, as your weight will keep it in place.

Important Safety Tip - English Stirrups

Alternative Method For Putting On Stirrups

Sometimes it is difficult to push the stirrup leather up under the bar. If you find this too difficult, there is an alternative method. Put the saddle on a saddle rack of about waist height. You can do this when the saddle is on a horse, but it is harder.

Put the stirrup on the leather as covered above and grasp it in two places on the part that you would have pushed up under the bar. Use both hands. Basically, you are making a kind of loop with a section of the stirrup leather.

Hold one side of the leather above the bar and one below it. Pushing down into the saddle try and slide the stirrup leather behind the bar pulling sideways toward the front of the saddle. Once you have the stirrup leather behind the bar, follow the same steps set out above to secure it.

Total Saddle Fit Stability Stirrup Leathers Jump & Dressage Styles

What Is The Right Length For English Stirrups

Once you have your stirrups on your English saddle, you need to adjust them to the correct length for your leg. You can do this in two ways. First, put both stirrups on the same hole on each side.

This is usually easy, as most English saddle stirrup leathers have numbered holes. The first way is when you have the saddle on the horse, but you stand on the ground.

Put the tip of your fingers under the skirt and place them at the top of the buckle. Pull the stirrup out with your other hand, flat against your arm, and place it under your arm. The bottom of the stirrup should touch your armpit.

Make the stirrups shorter or longer based on this result. Then do the arm test again. Always keep the leathers buckled on the same hole number on each side.

What Is The Right Length for English Stirrups

The second way to check for the correct stirrup length is when you’re on the horse. This method is sometimes easier with a helper on the ground. Stop the horse and try to stand it square. Take your feet out of the stirrups.

Let your leg relax and drop it down, but don’t stretch your leg down. The bottom bar of the stirrup should touch your ankle bone. Your helper can stand in front of the horse and tell you if the stirrups look even.

Conclusion About How To Put Stirrup Leathers On An English Saddle

As you can see, putting stirrups on an English saddle is easy. Getting the leather behind the bar is, at times, a little frustrating, but a little work will get it on. Make sure to check out the videos included in the article, as they will really help you see how it’s done.

Do English saddles have stirrups?

Yes, they do. But the English showing saddle has a stirrup bar set farther forward, compared to Western saddle, and a cutback pommel that falls behind rather than over the withers. The seat of an English saddle is less flat and the center of balance for a rider is more similar to that of a dressage saddle. The English riding saddle is not as popular as the Western riding saddle. However, the English saddle is a very versatile saddle, and is also much lighter than the Western saddle, which can be a problem for some riders.

How do you put stirrups on an English saddle?

First you need to locate a metal bar under the saddle skirt. The skirt sits on top of the saddle flap under the seat and it helps keep the stirrup’s buckle from interfering with the rider’s legs. Next, take a stirrup for the right leg and run the stirrup leather through the hole at the top of the stirrup. Hold both ends in your hand as if you were making a loop. Raise the skirt, push the leather end under the bar, pull it through on the other side and buckle it up. Carefully secure the buckle. Then grab the part of the leather that is closest to the saddle. When you pull it down, the buckle should slide under the skirt and upward. If you hear a click sound you did it correctly. Finally, pull the stirrup into the bar so that it sits close to the front of the stirrup bar.

Is English or Western riding safer?

English riding can be a bit more challenging for a beginner. It requires more balance and coordination of the reins and legs compared to the western style. Because of that the rider can feel a bit insecure in the saddle at the beginning, before he get used to it. This is not always a bad thing, because it teaches you how control your body and your horse. On the other hand the Western saddle is larger and more comfortable and therefore easier for beginners to sit on and feel secure. 
So, which one is safer? I guess that both can be considered safe as long as you ride correctly and follow the rules of riding. It’s true that English riding is harder than western riding, but I don’t believe that it’s more dangerous than western riding.

Can a horse ride both English and Western?

People who enjoy both English and Western riding often think they need a different horse for each discipline. The two disciplines share some similarities and some breeds of horses can work well in both styles of riding.
There are four breeds that can be ridden in both English and Western, the Clydesdale, the Percheron, the American Paint Horse, and the Morgan. Clydesdales are very versatile horses. They have good gaits, great endurance, and are very easy to ride. They have a long history of working and competing in both English and Western events. Percherons are gentle, intelligent, and well-suited to both Western and English riding. The American Paint Horse is an excellent choice for the rider who wants to compete at a high level. It is also a very versatile horse. It is gentle and easy to ride. Morgans are strong and powerful, with a wonderful sense of balance. They are often used in show jumping.