What stirrup range does the sixth-ranked showjumper in the world ride in, and advocate? Royal Rider Stirrups ambassador, McLain Ward, says the Royal Rider Sport Flex stirrups are ideal for showjumping.
“They have stainless steel cables in the body of the stirrup, which are covered in technical rubber, allowing flexibility; they have a nice wide, ergonomic arch,” he explains.
“They help me achieve an optimum riding position, and allow me to balance as required for technical courses and jump offs. I do advocate riding with sufficiently short stirrups; they allow you to keep a light seat, and a secure lower leg.
Royal Rider Sport Flex stirrups are lightweight, but highly resistant…
“I ride with short stirrups, with my heel noticeably lower than my toe, as this acts as a shock absorber.
Royal Rider Sport Flex stirrups are lightweight, but highly resistant, with high structural integrity that’s vital when you’re contesting technical courses of showjumps.”
“Their flexibility also offers shock absorption, which is useful when you’re riding multiple horses! I would suggest avoiding using too much force to achieve this ‘ideal’ heel position, as this then stiffens the rider’s ankle joint, and reduces flexibility. The ‘heels down’ position should come naturally!”
“I find that if you can comfortably keep your heels down, this helps ‘lengthen’ your lower leg, and creates an increased contact area on your horse’s sides.
“It’s very easy to bring the heel up when trying to apply more leg pressure (eg. with a horse that isn’t sharp enough), but this actually makes your leg less effective, as it reduces the area of coverage.”
“Also, by angling your toe in slightly, you will enable the whole inside of your calf to be in contact with your horse’s side.
In my mind there are three key areas of connection; the rider’s hands via the horse’s mouth; the rider’s seat; and their lower leg, against the horse’s side.”
“By using a highly engineered pair of stirrups that work WITH your position and bodyweight, you can achieve having the inside of your calf in contact with your horse’s side, which increases the contact area, and subsequently maximizes communication, and your security in the saddle.”
McLain Ward is a leading American showjumper, currently ranked sixth in the world. His top string of horses includes Rapidash, a nine year old gelding owned by McLain; HH Azur, a 13 year old mare owned by Double H Farm and Francois Mathy; and Noche De Ronda, an impressive new ten year old mare owned by McLain, Marilla Van Beuren and Bob Russell, who was victorious with McLain in recent CSI4* CSI3* Speed Stakes classes.
Another top ride, Contagious, a ten year old gelding owned by Beechwood Stables LLC, carried McLain to victory in the recent Nations Cup CSIO4* at the 2019 Winter Equestrian Festival, and also clinched victory at the recent Upperville Jumper Classic CSI 4*.